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James P. Carse quotes (showing 1-30 of 317)

“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
“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
“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
“Only that which can change can continue.”
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
“Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“I can explain nothing to you unless I first draw your attention to patent inadequacies in your knowledge; discontinuities in the relations between objects, or the presence of anomalies you cannot account for by any of the laws known to you. You will remain deaf to my explanations until you suspect yourself of falsehood.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“if we cannot tell a story about what happened to us, nothing has happened to us.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
“...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
“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
“To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility whatever the cost to oneself.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
“Genuine travelers travel not to overcome distance but to discover distance. It is not distance that makes travel necessary, but travel that makes distance possible. Distance is not determined by the measurable length between objects, but by the actual differences between them. The motels around the airports in Chicago and Atlanta are so little different from the motels around the airports of Tokyo and Frankfurt that all essential distances dissolve in likeness. What is truly separated is distinct; it is unlike. "The only true voyage would be not to travel through a hundred different lands with the same pair of eyes, but to see the same land through a hundred different pairs of eyes" (Proust).”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“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
“In the complex plotting of sexual encounter it is by no means uncommon for the partners to have played a double game in which each is winner and loser, and each is an emblem for the other's seductive power.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“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
“The strategy of infinite players is horizontal. They do not go to meet putative enemies with power and violence, but with poiesis and vision. They invite them to become a people in passage. Infinite players do not rise to meet arms with arms; instead, they make use of laughter, vision, and surprise to engage the state and put its boundaries back into play.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Infinite speakers do not give voice to another, but receive it from another. Infinite speakers do not therefore appeal to a world as audience, do not speak before a world, but present themselves as an audience by way of talking with others. Finite speech informs another about the world-for the sake of being heard. Infinite speech forms a world about the other-for the sake of listening.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Storytellers do not convert their listeners; they do not move them into the territory of a superior truth. Ignoring the issue of truth and falsehood altogether, they offer only vision. Storytelling is therefore not combative; it does not succeed or fail. A story cannot be obeyed. Instead of placing one body of knowledge against another, storytellers invite us to return from knowledge to thinking, from a bounded way of looking to an horizonal way of seeing.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
“Gardeners slaughter no animals. They kill nothing. Fruits, seeds, vegetables, nuts, grains, grasses, roots, flowers, herbs, berries-all are collected when they have ripened, and when their collection is in the interest of the garden's heightened and continued vitality. Harvesting respects a source, leaves it unexploited, suffers it to be as it is.”
James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

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