Finite and Infinite Games

One part of the Planetary project I’m doing now involves sharing resources that help us find new casts of mind, and see our surroundings in new ways. The first book I’m sharing as part of Planetary is Finite and Infinite Games

The future is to a large extent unknowable; when we contemplate an action and attempt to foresee its future consequences, we cannot predict with any strong confidence that any specific action we undertake today will have a certain result in the distant future, and the more distant the future we try to foresee, the greater our uncertainty. This is made even more true when we’re not clear on the nature of the present, when status quo assumptions about what is realistic or not blind to actual reality.

Does this mean that thinking about the future is a pointless exercise? No, absolutely not. For one thing, shorter-term foresight is definitely possible, especially if our goal is to find actions that will likely be beneficial under a range of possible future circumstances. For another thing, it turns out creating options — expanding the realm of the possible — is far more within our power than controlling outcomes. We can see our goal not as the building of a singular best future, but finding ourselves with the best set of options.

Finite and Infinite Games is a book essentially about what it means to view life through the lens of expanding possibility, and giving future generations more options. It’s also a book about how competitions and conflicts — in our daily lives and in the economic and political arenas and in our society’s cultural debate; what Carse calls “finite games” — relate to and inform our larger, collaborative goals — what Carse calls “the infinite game.”

If you’re seeking to erect a framework on which to build a planetary view of things, Finite and Infinite Games is a key piece of scaffolding.