Finite Games Are All We Know

Nick Williams
6 min readApr 8, 2024
Image credit — Polarity by Bergionstyle on

In a Finite Game everything is always strictly ‘black and white’ — you’re either with us or against us, you’re either part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem, etc., etc. This is its limitation, of course — a finite game’s limitation is this idea that stuff either has to be either RIGHT or WRONG, if the answer isn’t YES then it has to be NO. We are given no leeway, no slack in this regard at all — we are provided with no possibilities other than WIN versus LOSE. If you aren’t winning then — by definition — you must be losing. This is ‘logic’ to be sure, but logic is artificial, which is to say, it has nothing to do with the way things actually work in the natural world.

Logic only holds good in the Formal World, in the world that we ourselves have invented, the world that we have ‘agreed upon’. No one agrees with the world ‘as it actually is’ — it’s just not possible to do that. That’s the one thing we absolutely can’t do. It’s not possible to ‘agree with the natural world’ for the simple reason that we don’t know what it is, and if we don’t know what it is then we can’t ‘agree’ with it. It’s not possible to know what the natural (or informal) world is, not for any vague metaphysical reasons but simply because what we’re looking at here is emergent (rather than being something that is static). We’re talking about an open-ended system here.

How can we know what an emergence system ‘is’ ? This sentence doesn’t even make any sense — ‘IS’ is a static word, a meaningless word. How could we have any way of knowing what’s going to emerge when it hasn’t emerged yet? The whole point of emergence is that we can’t predict what is going to happen on the basis of what has happened so far — this isn’t logic (i.e., lawful extrapolation from a fixed point) we’re talking about here but chaos. In common parlance ‘chaos’ just means that everything’s a terrible mess but in a technical sense what it means is that there is no predictability — things don’t occur according to rules (or according to precedence). When we don’t have any way of knowing what’s going to emerge then we can’t say anything definitive about what has already emerged since whatever we say could be proved wrong later on. There can’t be any such thing as certainty, in other words. At the risk of stating the ridiculously obvious, there can’t be any such thing as certainty when the picture is emergent.

We might try to get around this ‘problem’ by arguing that if we think about it long enough and hard enough then we will be able to come up with a formula to enable us to predict what’s going to emerge. We can’t help believing that we can find a theory of everything’ because that’s the way our minds work, by identifying patterns. If we could do this however then it wouldn’t be an emergent system that we’re talking about, it would be something different. Logic can’t conceive of a type of reality that isn’t logical — if something can’t be modelled (or theorized) then this is proof that it doesn’t exist, according to logic. Thought’s prejudice is to say that if something can’t be modelled then it can’t exist — if we can’t form an idea of something then we won’t take it seriously as a proposition. What the thinking mind can or cannot understand or model has nothing to do with anything however — the limitations of logic have no impact whatsoever on reality, which is alogical, which is not a model, not a theory or hypothesis.

In a finite game everything has to be either about winning and losing, affirming or denying. This is its ‘no nonsense’ edge — anything else apart from ‘win or lose’, ‘affirm or deny’ is airy-fairy bullshit, we say (speaking from the point of view of whatever finite game it is we’ve sold our souls to). Anything else other than YES or NO is a cop out, evidence of a weak and avoidant mind. The important thing is to get real (we say) and to stop looking for some kind of ‘non-existent escape from the facts’. The irony here is that there couldn’t be anything less real than ‘success versus failure’ — this is the ultimate bullshit, the ultimate avoidance. We pulled the terms <positive> and <negative> out of our hat and then conned everyone into playing our stupid game. The whole thing is a big scam, we have been coerced (or bullied) into believing a whole heap of crap.

There’s no such thing as ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ — that’s a ridiculous pointless meaningless projection on our part. How can there be such a thing as ‘succeed’ or ‘fail’ when the Cosmos is an emergent phenomenon? There aren’t goal posts — goal posts are our own invention. We like to say that there is a goal (and thereby make everything into either fail or succeed) but that goal which we keep blabbering on about isn’t there by itself — we made it be there, we invented it, and then we made everything to be about it. We impose our categories on life and then get everything to fit into them; this is how thought works — it works by imposing categories and then saying that anything that isn’t in a category doesn’t exist. The truth is however that it is our categories that don’t exist!

This is a finite game in a nutshell — an FG where we are corralled into a narrow pen and then are told (most authoritatively) that this narrow pen is ‘what it’s all about’, that is ‘the whole of everything’, ‘the essence of life itself’, and that we have to ‘cop on’ and ‘get with the programme’. We are bullied and browbeaten into accepting this dismal scheme — we’re are made to feel stupid if we dare to suggest that there might be anything else other than his crappy little game. We are made into life-long captives of the finite game and yet the finite game doesn’t really exist. It’s a null domain — it’s a null domain (just like ‘the set of all lobsters that play professional basketball’ or ‘the set of all avocados that have a master’s degree in medieval history’) within which we are expected to live out the course of our lives. In this null domain we spend all our time grimly struggling to achieve the imaginary outcome called winning (and trying to avoid the equally imaginary outcome called losing). We have been conned into worshipping a god that doesn’t exist, a non-existent god that we don’t have the courage to question. Fear means that all our resources go into ‘obeying the rules of the game’, and none at all into trying to find out what’s really going on here, in this deceptive realm of attractive / repulsive appearances.

Finite games are all we know. Every time we think we create a finite game, which we then get trapped in. Society — which is made up entirely of our thinking — is a finite game. Finite games are compulsive situations that aren’t real, coercive situations which we have been frightened into accepting as real. Everything that is intrinsically / inherently ours has been taken away from us in a finite game and we are forced to compete viciously for prizes that are thoroughly meaningless. Everything we do is for the sake of validating an idea of ourselves which isn’t who we are, which could never be who we are; the worst thing in the world would be for ‘who the game says we are’ to be de-validated in some way, and the greatest thing is for it to succeed, for it to be showered with honours, for it to be glorified. But even if we do achieve this glory, the so-called glory belongs to the finite game, the finite game is worshipping (or glorifying) itself and it can only do this by trickery — it can only do it by denying reality, by denying the transcendent truth of who we really are.