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Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life…

Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility (original 1986; edition 1987)

by James P. Carse

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7871511,689 (3.9)8
Title:Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
Authors:James P. Carse
Info:Ballantine Books (1987), Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James P. Carse (1986)



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Frankly, I'm not sure what to think of this. There are some fascinating ideas, but there's also some less than solid chains of logic. Then again, maybe I just didn't understand it. ( )
  hopeevey | May 20, 2018 |
"There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play."
~~back cover

I read a trade paperback, with this ISBN & cover.

I've had this book for 20 years or more, and every time I read it, I get more out of it. It's not an easy book to read -- it takes a lot of thought to begin to understand the author's meaning. But it's well worth the effort! I first read this book when my metaphor for living was 'to be in the world as a warrior', and this book drove me to understand that metaphor is an infinite game. ( )
  Aspenhugger | May 17, 2018 |
This was definitely a worthwhile read. In fact, I should read a second time before reviewing.

That said, I found the opening premise quite interesting, and some of the expansion on it quite worthwhile. But... frankly, I did not follow everything here. I think part of it is that I'm not sure I agree with all of it.

I don't know that infinite players are actually 'better', and that is clearly the judgement expressed. A sincere religious fundamentalist seems an infinite player; so does a sincere terrorist. Though Carse clearly would not agree, I think a 'true believe' in almost any thing would fit... even though embracers of ideology are called out here.

Yeah... disagree on points AND need to reread. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Oct 17, 2016 |
“Finite Players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries. Finite players are serious; infinite games are playful. A finite player plays to be powerful; an infinite player plays with strength. A finite player consumes time; an infinite player generates time. The finite player aims for eternal life; the infinite player aims for eternal birth.”

Carse starts by defining two kinds of games: finite and infinite. The basic difference between the two is that finite games are played for the purpose of establishing a winner and ending the game while infinite games are played for the purpose of making sure play continues without ending. He goes on to apply this metaphor to many aspects of life, including business, religion, society and culture, war, sex, and nature.

I struggled with deciding how to rate this book. I was convinced that it would be a five star book and a favorite within the first few pages, and I had post-it notes stuck all over it marking passages I wanted to go back to. Then as I got further into it, there were more and more sections that either confused me or didn’t resonate with me at all. There were still quite a few wonderful tidbits interspersed throughout, so I was waffling between four and five stars. Then I got to the ending, which I really did not appreciate, so the four star rating turned out to be an easy decision. What I did appreciate was that Carse spent the whole book explaining the differences between finite and infinite games and players without casting any judgment about which is better. Regardless of my dislike of the ending, it’s still an excellent book, and I can see why many people have said that it changed their whole outlook on life. This is a book that I will go back to multiple times throughout my life.

And yes, I am completely aware of and thoroughly amused by the fact that I just read a book about playing games as part of playing a game. At the risk of making this review so long that no one wants to read it, have some quotes:

“What will undo any boundary is the awareness that it is our vision, and not what we are viewing, that is limited.”

“Each new school of painting is new not because it now contains subject matter ignored in earlier work, but because it sees the limitations previous artists imposed on their subject matter but could not see themselves. The earlier artists worked within the outlines they imagined; the later reworked their imaginations.”

“Genuine travel has no destination. Travelers do not go somewhere, but constantly discover they are somewhere else.” ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
A profound book which has changed the way I look at everything. I suspect that some of the changes will be permanent. (I agree with dogrover that he overuses chiasmus though.) ( )
  dazzyj | Jun 7, 2011 |
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This book is dedicated to Alisa, Keene, and Jamie, of course.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345341848, Mass Market Paperback)

An extraordinary book that will dramatically change the way you experience life.
Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life, the games we play in business and politics, in the bedroom and on the battlefied -- games with winners and losers, a beginning and an end. Infinite games are more mysterious -- and ultimately more rewarding. They are unscripted and unpredictable; they are the source of true freedom.
In this elegant and compelling work, James Carse explores what these games mean, and what they can mean to you. He offers stunning new insights into the nature of property and power, of culture and community, of sexuality and self-discovery, opening the door to a world of infinite delight and possibility.
"An extraordinary little book . . . a wise and intimate companion, an elegant reminder of the real."
-- Brain/Mind Bulletin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:07 -0400)

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