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Summary

“There are at least two kinds of games,” states James P. Carse as he begins this extraordinary book. “One could be called finite, the other infinite.”

Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life; they are played in order to be won, which is when they end. But infinite games are more mysterious. Their object is not winning but ensuring the continuation of play. The rules may change, the boundaries may change, even the participants may change - as long as the game is never allowed to come to an end.

What are infinite games? How do they affect the ways we play our finite games? What are we doing when we play - finitely or infinitely? And how can infinite games affect the ways in which we live our lives?

Carse explores these questions with stunning elegance, teasing out of his distinctions a universe of observation and insight, noting where and why and how we play, finitely and infinitely. He surveys our world - from the finite games of the playing field and playing board to the infinite games found in culture and religion - leaving all we think we know illuminated and transformed. Along the way, Carse finds new ways of understanding everything, from how an actress portrays a role to how we engage in sex, from the nature of evil to the nature of science. Finite games, he shows, may offer wealth and status, power and glory, but infinite games offer something far more subtle and far grander.

Carse has written a book rich in insight and aphorism. Already an international literary event, Finite and Infinite Games is certain to be argued about and celebrated for years to come. Listening to it is the first step in learning to play the infinite game.

©2011 James Carse (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good listen with an important view on ourselves

It flowed really organically and I finished it in obe sitting. It triggered many ideas and touched on quite some numerous subjects that are quite necessary for the idea to take root and for it to uphold itself and flourish.

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  • Philo
  • 19-05-18

Some brilliant nuggets. Sometimes quirky.

I had expected something a bit more mathematized and very nerdy-structured. This is philosophical, floating above the little stark technical forms I expected. The title itself was very evocative and the content takes off well from there. It is fun to scrutinize a thousand things I do every day for the features of one or both of these game types. I will never look the same way at goals, titles, all sorts of signposts in human affairs, or their absence. The infinite games idea is more diffuse and I'm still wrapping my head around that. The finite games idea is rich in examples. It bends the way I think and interpret (and strategize) in new ways.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • jg
  • 21-08-18

Interesting

The message is interesting, at times clever. However, the content seems highly abstract and the writing style (sometimes pompus, convoluted, philosophically technical) does NOT help to make the insights easier to grasp. It would be best for anyone interested in the book (and in philosophy in general) to purchase the printed book.

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  • William Oakley
  • 10-08-18

great ideas, language gets repetitive

this book has some phenomenal concepts but the language is very repetetive. I imagine this is one that might be better in book form

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  • Luke
  • 07-08-18

Enlightening

In the past, at the time when increasingly felt very iffy about the "Book of Revelation", and in the mean time, felt deeply moved by the sayings in the "Gospel of Thomas", I stumbled across this little book(1991 Eighth Print). And that settled it for me. It let me see clearly how and why the two different game playing personality traits had lead people to become the two different types of followers of Jesus... (you can certainly see the trait differences among the followings of Buddha, Laotzu and ... as well)

I feel the need to read this book once every few years.

This book is still very current as we are now entering the age of AI. As Artificial Intelligent machines are becoming more and more human and Human Beings are becoming more and more artificial, we need to read/listen and think hard about those words (such as Ch.84-89) in the book.

The future is rushing toward us. So really hope this book to have a sequel...soon enough.


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  • Andre
  • 16-05-18

To Be Infinite

This book is a quintessential set of words with the power to unlock your perception of life. Enhance your vision by reading this book, play as an infinite player.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • JB
  • 19-05-18

You need to be a taoism master to understand this

Jesus Christmas, I want to like this book but I feel like I'm in Kung Fu training by a Taoist master with 7 PhDs in philosophy and a lot of weed.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • John Holland
  • 24-05-18

This book was terrible...

No idea why it had such good reviews. It reads like a boring text book and it was painful to try to listen to.

The author immediately starts making claims based on nothing and states them as if they are fact when they appear only to be his opinion.

He tries to support his arguments with "logic" but really only twists the words of the English language to make it sound like what he's saying has some basis.

This is why I like computer programming languages... your logic is either right or wrong... you can't manipulate it with twists of the tongue. Unfortunately many people are easily fooled by bending words or leaps of logic or that sort of thing.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful