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Finite and Infinite Games

Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
Length: 4 hrs and 11 mins
4 out of 5 stars (140 ratings)

Regular price: $17.00

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Publisher's 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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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but not well explained

There are frustratingly few examples of the complex ideas the author is trying to communicate, which detracts from the listener's ability to comprehend. The book is rife with phrases like "the finite game is played within boundaries, while the infinite game plays with boundaries." After about 5 phrases in a row like this, you'd really like an example to fully illustrate what he means, which the author adamantly refuses to provide. It's a real shame because I thought the themes the author plays with really do explore some interesting ways of viewing the world and shaping one's view of the world.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

A brilliant book - every sentence is thought provoking. Enjoyed every moment. The book is not easy, and the narration is somewhat fast - would consider also having the kindle version for deep diving into these ideas.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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I can’t stand this book

So annoying, it is like reading the instructions of a very long boring board game. Definitely no at all for me!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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a horribly long confusing riddle

I quit after about 40 minutes. And after scanning ahead the whole book is exactly the same. it doesn't seem like there's any point to any of this.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

maybe not what you think?

this was more of a philosophical treatise than anything else. I was hoping to glean some advice in regards to business and the idea of playing the infinite game vs finite game that is starting to be more common in business circles due to Simon Sinek and others. This is something completely different. this is like a modern day Nietzsche or other some such philosophical book. it perhaps will be viewed as important or timely and fall in line with a Proverbs type remembrqnce. or it might get lost in time. either way, unless you're prepped for his specific type of talk you won't pull much useful and applicable content, though you might find a point or two worth mulling over in your head.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Deep perspective of life!

The format of the book follows a narrative of rules, laws and observations. Surely an Interesting read as it views the world from a different perspective.

There are so many things we tend to do that are very short sighted or as the book says finite games. Switching up to the infinite game mindset, such as the ones played by ancient Egyptians created legacies that outlived the players. They definitely played an infinite game and death was only a part of it and not the end of it.

It touches upon society, relationships, religion, politics, war and even sexuality. With many examples to demonstrate finite/infinite games in those chapters.

Deep book and will definitely read it again. Probably after reading Simon Sinek simplified version.

Quotes I pondered:

“I must study politics and war, that my sons may study mathematics and philosophy…in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, music and architecture.”
~ John Q. Adams

A short excerpt on Explanations:

“Explanations succeed only by convincing resistant hearers of their error.
If you will not hear my explanations until you are suspicious of your own truths you will not accept my explanations until you are convinced of your error. Explanations is an antagonistic encounter that succeeds by defeating an opponent.
It posses the same dynamic of resentment found in other finite plays.
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.

Whoever wins this struggle is privileged with the claim to true knowledge.
Knowledge has been arrived at, it is the outcome of this engagement.
Its winners have the uncontested power to make certain statements of fact.
They are to be listened to.

In those areas appropriate to the contests now concluded, winners possess a knowledge that can no longer be challenged.
Knowledge therefore is like property. It must be published, declared, or in some other ways so displayed, that others cannot but take account of it. It must stand in their way!
It must be emblematic, pointing backward at its possessors competitive skill, so close are knowledge and property, that they are often thought to be continuous. Those who are entitled to knowledge. Feel they should be granted property as well and those are entitled to property, believe a certain knowledge goes with it. Scholars demand higher salaries for their publishable successes, industrials sit on university boards.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good Theory, Longer than Necessary

Philosophically the book was very good, I was entertained by the notions and see some heuristics I can apply to make sense of our crazy world. That being said it could have ended 50% of the way in and had the same value. 5 Stars if it was more concise. The extra 50% was just redundancy that the author had done good philosophy

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

great fundamental concept BUT

it's really hard to listen to the same exact concept be analogized at me in 30 different ways. No I haven't finished it, but seriously the concept of infinite games in the realm the free market is a great concept to communicate but it feels like alot of monotonous repetition of analogies to get you to truly understand what the author is communicating.

I GET IT thank you.

I hope the author is successful and finds more success through writing. no hard feelings. good kernels of knowledge but just alot of chaff to fill in the gaps in my grain of salt opinion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

This is so philosophical that any logical implication doesn’t make sense

The author strives to use words because, therefore, but thus without actually making any logical sense.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Miklos Tibor
  • 05-06-18

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 04-15-19

Tedious and pointless

Gave up in first chapter. concept sounded great but content was a blur of noise that was a machine gun of seemingly random information. wasn't sure what the point was. might have been good but I couldn't face any more confusion.

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  • P A Coates
  • 02-24-19

Tedious!!

Once the point is made the author goes on and on and on with what are obvious implications of finite and infinite games

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • aleshia kitchener
  • 03-05-19

Great concept but a tedious read..

Would not recommend this book for someone who wants a simple read that they can listen to whilst driving. You need to ponder over things and this makes it not the best for driving in my experience

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 10-26-18

Try the paperback

Great narration and I think the content was good, but it felt like it would've been better as a paperback in which you can write notes, highlight passages, etc.

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  • Damien Hudson
  • 05-14-18

Dense and poetic

Had to push through the heavy prose at times but came together in beautiful disturbing clarity in the final chapters.