Rob's Reviews > Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse
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's review
Sep 04, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction-for-humans
Recommended for: everyone
Read in April, 2008

amazing. amazing!

one of those books that doesn't really teach you anything, but page after page you want to shout, "yes!, that's what i've always known, but i never had the words!".

hard to summarize, because it covers such a wide range, but the basic distinction is drawn between seeing life as a series of "finite games" and seeing existence as a single infinite game.

finite players play their finite games with the goal of "winning", which of course means that their goal is to actually BRING THE GAME TO AN END. they actually enter into everything they do hoping to end it, i.e. to stop doing it. the rules of the game are very important to them and keeping score and giving a prize or title to the winner. war, sports, contests, competitions, grasping after social status, etc., are finite games. it is theatrical, with everyone playing not as themselves, but playing a predetermined role with strict guidelines.

infinite players play with the goal of continuing the game. they do not approach boundaries as they move. the only limit is the horizon, which moves with them everywhere and can never be reached. it is dramatic, with surprises around every corner and constantly changing rules, with everyone just playing for the sake of continuing the game, to discover the possibilities.

if this all sounds squishy and new-agey, all i can say is that it isn't. he actually addresses very deep issues and brings up the titans of western thought, from plato to jesus to augustine to copernicus to nietzsche to heidegger to einstein to freud. good and evil, self and other, sex, machines and nature.
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02/19/2016 marked as: read

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