Summary[ edit ] Finite vs. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play. Finite games are those instrumental activities - from sports to politics to wars - in which the participants obey rules, recognize boundaries and announce winners and losers. The infinite game - there is only one - includes any authentic interaction, from touching to culture, that changes rules, plays with boundaries and exists solely for the purpose of continuing the game. A finite player seeks power; the infinite one displays self-sufficient strength.

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It definitely needs to be re-read times. 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. We cannot play alone, in finite games, we must have an opponent to play against and usually teammates to play with.

Not everyone can be a CEO, but there are other positions. Finite games can be played within an infinite game, but an infinite game cannot be played within a finite game. The rules of a finite game are the contractual terms by which the players can agree on who won. Rules are valid only if and when players freely play by them. In a finite game, the rules are fixed until there is a winner, but in an infinite game, the rules must change during the course of play. The rules of an infinite game are changed to prevent anyone from winning the game, and to bring as many other persons as possible into play.

The rules of a finite game are like the rules of a debate, infinite game, like language. Finite players play within boundaries, infinite players play with boundaries. No one is forced to be a lawyer, but once you decide to be a lawyer, there are rules you must follow to continue being a lawyer. Since you play a finite game to win, every move must be in the goal of winning, and so you believe you must make whatever moves are necessary to win.

It may seem that the prizes of winning are indispensible, that life is meaningless without them, but few games are life and death. The fields of play do not impose themselves on us, all limitations of finite play are self-limitations. A degree of self-veiling self-deception is necessary in all finite games, since we must forget they are optional in order to be motivated to win.

This is true with all roles. You step freely into the role of mother, but once in it, you must suspend your freedom to give the role the attention it requires. Infinite players do not avoid finite games, they enter into them with the appropriate energy and self veiling, but without the seriousness of finite players.

They embrace the abstractness, and take them up playfully. Finite players avoid surprise and try to plan around them, infinite players expect to be surprised and continue their play in pursuit of it. To be prepared against surprise is to be trained, to be prepared for surprise is to be educated. Training regards the past as finished and the future to be finished. Education leads toward a continuing self-discovery; training leads toward a final self-definition.

People who take on special diets and regimens to extend their youth and postpone aging choose to hate their life now in order to have it later. We do not eliminate weather or nature, we accept them as realities that establish the context of play. If you accept death as inevitable, you do not struggle against morality, you struggle as a mortal. All limitations of finite play are self limitations.

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.

The fluidity of change gives us a challenge: how to keep all of our finite games in infinite play. This is misunderstood as needing to find room for playfulness within finite games. Inevitably, seriousness creeps back into this kind of play, the executive vacation, like a football team time out, because a device for refreshing the conestant for higher competition.

Even childrens playfulness is exploited through sports, and artistics regimens. Schools are a form of finite game, to the degree that they give ranked awares to those who win degrees from them. Those awards qualify graduates for competition in still higher games, like pretigious colleges, and then professional schools beyond that, with a continuing sequence of higher games in each profession, and so forth.

The law is powerful for persons only because they obey it. We display the success of what we have done by not having to do anything. The more we use up, the more we show ourselves to be winners of past contests.

It is apparent to infinite players that wealth is not possessed as much as it is performed. Poietai: the storytellers, inventors, sculptors, poets, any original thinker. We do not watch artists to see what they do, but watch what persons do and discover the artistry in it.

A boundary is a phenomenon of opposition. A horizon is a phenomenon of vision. You cannot look at it or reach it, you can only extend it.

Every move an infinite player makes is towards the horizon. Every move a finite player makes is within a boundary. It is I, not the mind, that thinks. It is I, not the will, that acts. It is I, not the nervous system, that feels. Winners, especially celebrated winners, must prove repeatedly that they are winners.

The script must be played over and over again. No one is ever wealthy enough, honored enough, applauded enough. A Master Player of finite sexuality chooses not to take disinterested attitudes as a way of refusing the sexual game, but takes them to be part of the game.

We enter into societal arrangements by way of sexual roles. The king is the father of the country, your father is rarely considered the king of the family. Society is where we prove to our parents qua audience that we are not what we thought they thought we were. Since the emphasis is not on what they thought, but on what we thought they thought, they become an audience that survives their death, and an audience whose approval we can never win. The most serious struggles are those for sexual property, but who wins empire, fortune and fame but loses love has lost everything.

Whoever chooses to compete with another can also choose to play with another. Infinite players do not play within sexual boundaries, but with sexual boundaries. They cannot be said to be heterosexual, homosexual, etc. The triumph of finite sexuality is to be liberated from play into the body. The essence of infinite sexuality is to be liberated into play with the body. In finite sexuality, I relate to you as a body; in infinite sexuality, I relate to you in your body.

The fact that it must be limited temporally, numerically, and spatially means that there is something against which the limits stand. Its limits are meaningless unless there is something to be limited, unless there is a larger space, a longer time, a greater number of possible competitors. Some worlds pass quickly in and out of existence, some sustain for longer, but no world lasts forever.

There is an indefinite number of worlds. Finite play also occurs within a time frame. Time is a diminishing quantity. For the finite player, freedom is a function of time. We must have time to be free. The infinite player does not consume time but generates it. Because infinite play is dramatic and unscripted, its time is time lived and not time viewed.

An infinite player does not begin working for the purpose of filling time with work, but for the purpose of filling work with time. Work is a way of moving towards a future which itself has a future.

It has no voice of its own, and nothing to say. We experience the unspeakability of nature as its utter indifference to human culture. I can explain nothing to you unless I first draw your attention to inadequacies in your knowledge.

You will remain deaf to my explanations until you suspect yourself of falsehood. Explanation is an antagonistic encounter that succeeds by defeating an opponent. It possesses the same dynamic of resentment found in other finite play.

I will press my explanations on you because I need to show that I do not live in the error that I think others think I do. Those who are entitled to knowledge feel they should be granted property as well, and those entitled to property believe some knowledge goes with it.

Storytellers invite us to return from knowledge to thinking, from a bounded way of looking to a horizonal way of seeing. Historians become infinite speakers when they see that whatever begins in freedom cannot end in necessity. The control of nature advances with our ability to predict the outcome of natural processes.

Inasmuch as predictions are but explanations in reverse, it is possible that they will be quite as combative as explanations… It follows that our domination of nature is meant to achieve not certain natural outcomes, but certain societal outcomes.

Machine vs. It is a place for growth, maximum spontaneity. Gardening is a horizonal activity. A machine can exist in the garden, but you must ask whether a machine serves the interest of the garden. The machine is driven by a force which must be introduced from without, the garden is grown by an energy which originates from within itself.

The more power we exercise over natural forces the more powerless we become before them. To operate a machine is to operate like a machine, we not only operate with each other like machines, we operate each other like machines. Machinery is meant to work changes without changing its operator, while gardening transforms its workers.


Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse

It definitely needs to be re-read times. 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. We cannot play alone, in finite games, we must have an opponent to play against and usually teammates to play with. Not everyone can be a CEO, but there are other positions.


Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility




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