Posted by: CJ | April 7, 2009

Awesome Quote

Found this today. It’s from Felix Holt:The Radical by George Elliot. It was quoted in the context of the gulf between the academic study of social/political/policy phenomena and the actual practice.

Fancy what a game at chess would be if all the chessmen had passions and intellects, more or less small and cunning: if you were not only uncertain about your adversary’s men, but a little uncertain also about your own; if your knight could shuffle himself on to a new square on the sly; if your bishop, in disgust at your castling, could wheedle your pawns out of their places; and if your pawns, hating you because they are pawns, could make away from their appointed posts that you might get checkmate on a sudden. You might be the longest-headed of deductive reasoners, and yet you might be beaten by your own pawns. You would be especially likely to be beaten, if you depended arrogantly on your mathematical imagination, and regarded your passionate pieces with contempt. Yet this imaginary chess is easy compared with the game a man has to play against his fellow-men with other fellow-men for instruments. He thinks himself sagacious, perhaps, because he trusts no bond except that of self-interest; but the only self-interest he can safely rely on is what seems to be such to the mind he would use or govern.

Now I want to figure out if a game like that exists. I half expect that if I spent some time checking the academic literature some variatoins of this exact game have been studied. Any game theorists in the audience have a clue?

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Responses

  1. Yes, the game is called Life. And you’re a pawn.

  2. Yes, read about the chess game in Alice in Wonderland, (or through the looking glass ) gpaw


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