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James P. Carse quotes (showing 1-30 of 195)

“A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Strength is paradoxical. I am not strong because I can force others to do what I wish as a result of my play with them, but because I can allow them to do what they wish in the course of my play with them.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“We are playful when we engage others at the level of choice, when there is no telling in advance where our relationship with them will come out-- when, in fact, no one has an outcome to be imposed on the relationship, apart from the decision to continue it.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Because infinite players prepare themselves to be surprised by the future, they play in complete openness. It is not an openness as in candor, but an openness as in vulnerability. It is not a matter of exposing one's unchanging identity, the true self that has always been, but a way of exposing one's ceaseless growth, the dynamic self that has yet to be.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“No one can play a game alone. One cannot be human by oneself. There is no selfhood where there is no community. We do not relate to others as the persons we are; we are who we are in relating to others. Simultaneously the others with whom we are in relation are themselves in relation. We cannot relate to anyone who is not also relating to us. Our social existence has, therefore, an inescapably fluid character... this ceaseless change does not mean discontinuity; rather change is itself the very basis of our continuity as persons.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“It is a highly valued function of society to prevent changes in the rules of the many games it embraces... Deviancy, however, is the very essence of culture. Whoever merely follows the script, merely repeating the past, is culturally impoverished. There are variations in the quality of deviation; not all divergence from the past is culturally significant. Any attempt to vary from the past in such a way as to cut the past off, causing it to be forgotten, has little cultural importance. Greater significance attaches to those variations that bring the tradition into view in a new way, allowing the familiar to be seen as unfamiliar, as requiring a new appraisal of all that we have been- and therefore all that we are. Cultural deviation does not return us to the past, but continues what was begun but not finished in the past... Properly speaking, a culture does not have a tradition; it is a tradition.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Titles are public. They are for others to notice. I expect others to address me according to my titles, but I do not address myself with them-- unless, of course, I address myself as an other.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“War presents itself as necessary for self-protection, when in fact it is necessary for self-identification.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as if nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful… everything that happens is of consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcome of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for unlimited possibility.”
James P. Carse
“Of course, immortality of the soul-- the bare soul, cleansed of any personality traces-- is rarely what is desired in the yearning for immortality... More often what one intends to preserve is a public personage, a permanently veiled selfhood.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
“Therefore, poets do not 'fit' into society, not because a place is denied them but because they do not take their 'places' seriously. They openly see its roles as theatrical, its styles as poses, its clothing costumes, its rules conventional, its crises arranged, its conflicts performed and its metaphysics ideological.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“...if vision is restricted to a belief system, or if it is divorced from all belief systems, it ceases to be vision. What is necessary is that it not restrict itself to a belief system but that belief systems always fall within the scope of poetic horizons... Visionaries (what we shall refer to as poets) do not destroy the walls, but show the openings through them. They do not promise what believers will see, only that the walls do not contain the horizon.”
James P. Carse, The Religious Case Against Belief
“In attempting to say who Jesus is, the best we can do is to utter words provoked by the collective attempts to do so over the centuries-- a choral work we cannot possibly translate back into a few phrases, any more than we can assume that a concert is adequately described by its listing in the program, or that a painting is interchangeable with its title. Reading the program or the museum's catalogue, we have no notion of what actually was performed or displayed. We can extend the metaphor: a literal reading of the Bible amounts to little more than what we learn from a concert program, or even the score. It is the symphonic whole that bears the meaning that nothing less can remotely capture.”
James P. Carse, The Religious Case Against Belief
“It is with this thought that many believers would call up Kierkegaard's famous phrase, the 'leap of faith,' pictured perhaps as a leap from here to there, leaving out the in-between... What is usually overlooked, however, is that Kierkegaard said nothing about a safe landing; there was only the leap, and no guarantee of solid ground beyond it.”
James P. Carse, The Religious Case Against Belief
“Because horizon is the end of vision, and because every move we make gives the field an aspect we couldn't have noticed before, what lies beyond the horizon cannot be known. (Otherwise it would be within the horizon.) As with the angelic messenger, there is no control over what comes into our vision... There are experiences and new information that will show the familiar as strange the comforting as dangerous, the adjacent as distant. Moreover, not every shift of the viewer will reveal something significant. It can be just more of the same, or nothing worth reflecting on. And yet without that shift, we begin to lose our vision altogether: what is seen over and over again ceases to be seen. What doesn't appear in a fresh way will be thought changeless and ordinary, no longer a stimulus to thought. Learning is reduced to mere repetition and can only confirm what has already been known. Friendships become static, empty of expectations of the future. The outcome of all our efforts become predictable. All mysteries can be explained. All dimensions and measurements hold. To be aware of our horizons is to live in wonder.”
James P. Carse, The Religious Case Against Belief
“What will undo any boundary is the awareness that it is our vision, and not what we are viewing, that is limited.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“NO ONE CAN PLAY a game alone. One cannot be human by oneself. There is no selfhood where there is no community. We do not relate to others as the persons we are; we are who we are in relating to others. Simultaneously the others with whom we are in relation are themselves in relation. We cannot relate to anyone who is not also relating to us. Our social existence has, therefore, an inescapably fluid character.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
“if we cannot tell a story about what happened to us, nothing has happened to us.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
“Therefore, for infinite players, politics is a form of theatricality. It is the performance of roles before an audience, according to a script whose last scene is known in advance by the performers. The United States did not, for example, lose its war in Southeast Asia so much as lose its audience for a war.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
“It is, therefore, this fluidity that presents us with an unavoidable challenge: how to contain the serious within the truly playful; that is, how to keep all our finite games in infinite play.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
“Plato suggested that some of the poets be driven out of the Republic because they had the power to weaken the guardians. Poets can make it impossible to have a war-unless they tell stories that agree with the "general line" established by the state. Poets who have no metaphysics, and therefore no political line, make war impossible because they have the irresistible ability to show the guardians that what seems necessary is only possible.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“It is the impulse of a finite player to go against another nation in war, it is the design of an infinite player to oppose war within a nation.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Because it is address, attending always on the response of the addressed, infinite speech has the form of listening. Infinite speech does not end in the obedient silence of the hearer, but continues by way of the attentive silence of the speaker. It is not a silence into which speech has died, but a silence from which speech is born.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Nature does not change; it has no inside or outside. It is therefore not possible to travel through it. All travel is therefore change within the traveler, and it is for that reason that travelers are always somewhere else. To travel is to grow.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“If as a people infinite players cannot go to war against a people, they can act against war itself within whatever state they happen to reside. In one way their opposition to war resembles that of finite players: Each is opposed to the existence of a state. But their reasons and the strategies for attempting to eliminate states are radically different. Finite players go to war against states because they endanger boundaries; infinite players oppose states because they engender boundaries.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“The strategy of finite players is to kill a state by killing the people who invented it. Infinite players, however, understanding war to be a conflict between states, conclude that states can have only states as enemies; they cannot have persons as enemies. "Sometimes it is possible to kill a state without killing a single one of its members; and war gives no right which is not necessary to the gaining of its object" (Rousseau). For infinite players, if it is possible to wage a war without killing a single person, then it is possible to wage war only without killing a single person.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“The danger of the poets, for Plaot, is that they can imitate so well that it is difficult to see what is true and what is merely invented. Since reality cannot be invented, but only discovered through the exercise of reason-according to Plato-all poets must be put into the service of reason. The poets are to surround the citizens of the Republic with such art as will "lead them unawares from childhood to love of, resemblance to, and harmony with, the beauty of reason."

The use of the word "unawares" shows Plato's intention to keep the metaphysical veil intact. Those who are being led to reason cannot be aware of it. They must be led to it without choosing it. Plato asks his poets not to create, but to deceive.

True poets lead no one unawares. It is nothing other than awareness that poets-that is, creators of all sorts-seek. They do not display their art so as to make it appear real; they display the real in a way that reveals it to be art.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

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