Conversation: An Infinite Game

Conversation, says philosopher Michael Oakeshott, “is an unrehearsed intellectual adventure. It is with conversation as with gambling; its significance lies neither in winning nor in losing, but in wagering.”

It is a game one plays neither to win nor lose.The point is, rather, to play for play’s sake,  to wager for the sake of wagering. James Carse calls this kind of activity an infinite game. Conversation is an infinite game done for its own sake. Keeping the conversation going, be it at that moment or over the span of weeks, is the point.

I have had the pleasure to be a part of recorded and unrehearsed intellectual adventures about music and philosophy with a dear friend. If there was anything I got from these, it was conversation as an infinite game. Some of the ideas presented here have stuck with me while others have contorted and disappeared. Our minds change all the time. Change can also help us find what sticks. Conversation amplifies this individual process.

And is not this personal journey done for itself?  In the exchange of ideas we find our infinite game.


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