Power and Freedom – A Brief Re-Review

finite and infinite gamesThere are wonderful elegances in this book, Finite and Infinite Games, by James P. Carse. The first elegance is his writing style: laying out straightforward premises and proceeding from there, describing implications. These implications address society, economics, arts, healthcare, education, individuals, and organizations.

The second elegance is Carse’s expressive word play. For example, “He who *must* play cannot *play*.” (asterisks indicate his italics). This phrase memorably summarizes, in six words, a whole introductory discussion examining freedom and power in living. The word play is engaging.

A third elegance is Carse’s pattern of following his premises and arriving at major “thought bombs” again and again, such as the paradox of a person (player) being both of a culture and in a society. Paraphrased, “A society lives for a past of repeated knowns; a culture lives for an ongoing future of surprises.” One is finite; the other infinite.

The organization of the book invites reading it in small sections: 101 small discussions, each about a page, divided into 7 “chapters.” An example chapter is, “No One Can Play A Game Alone.” An example discussion addresses healing.

Perhaps most elegantly, Carse is not prescribing one way of living over another. We are infinite and finite players both. Carse is playing, freely, sharing his ways of seeing newly ourselves and society. This invites us to see newly for ourselves. Here there is power and freedom.

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One Response to “Power and Freedom – A Brief Re-Review”

  1. elbrusconsulting Says:

    I am always looking for some interesting conversation starters to go over with my colleagues at JRSmedical This seems like a philosophy book. I’m interested, I like the concept of “thought bombs” Thanks for the post.


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