From an Infinite Game to a Philosophy of Will and Drive

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This interview took place on May 27, 2017, as part of the program entitled “A Night of Philosophy,” organized by the Institut Français du Japon in Tokyo. Prior to the interview, Bernard Stiegler gave a lecture entitled “Finite Games, Infinite Games” (Jeux Finis, Jeux Infinis). Thislecture was discussed during the interview, moderated by Stiegler’s friend, the media information scholar Hidetaka Ishida; Hiroki Azuma participated as a panelist.
In the lecture, Stiegler discussed the book Finite and Infinite Games (1986) by the scholar of religion James P. Carse. Carse argues that two types of games exist: “finite games,” which expend time within a closed set of rules with the aim of victory; and “infinite games,” which create time by changing the rules in response to player action, with the goal of continuation. Steigler stated that the contemporary media environment desires the realization of infinite games, as finite games turn users into the proletariat.
Moreover, Stiegler criticized interfaces such as smartphones that simplify communication and turn our desires into calculable data through statistics, emphasizing that these interfaces make humans poorer. Azuma sympathized with Stiegler’s proposal to introduce humanism into contemporary political philosophy through the introduction
of complex interfaces that would lead people to infinite games. However, Azuma indicated that in the present, where globalism and nationalism run parallel, both a humanistic will and an animalistic drive influenced by sensitive pleasure are important.
This dialogue articulated a large gap between the tradition of Western philosophy, based on the primacy of humans over animals, and the tradition of Japanese thought, described by Kojève as “Japanese snobbism.” The panel ended the discussion by acknowledging this divergence and questioning how a political philosophy based around will and drive can be constructed as their next topic of focus.