Finite and Infinite Games

The wisdom held in this brief book now informs most of what I do in life. Its key distinction–that there are two types of games, finite and infinite–resolves my uncertainties about what to do next. Easy: always choose infinite games. The message is appealing because it is deeply cybernetic, yet it’s also genuinely mystical. I get an “aha” every time I return to it.

-- KK  

Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
James P. Carse
1987, 192 pages
$36

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Sample Excerpts:

A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.

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Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.

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To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.

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The death of an infinite player is dramatic. It does not mean that the game comes to an end with death; on the contrary, infinite players offer their death as a way of continuing the play. For that reason they do not play for their own life; they live for their own play.

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I can be powerful only by not playing, by showing that the game is over.

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Infinite players do not oppose the actions of others, but initiate actions of their own in such a way that others will play by initiating their own.

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Evil is the termination of infinite play.

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No one can play a game alone.

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There is but one infinite game.