The Grasshopper

The Grasshopper : Games, Life and Utopia

4.14 (342 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Introduction by  , Illustrated by 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 6-11 business days.


Not ordering to the United States? Click here.

Description

In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. "Nonsense," said the sensible Bernard Suits: "playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles." The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Through the jocular voice of Aesop's Grasshopper, a "shiftless but thoughtful practitioner of applied entomology," Suits not only argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a central part of the ideal of human existence, and so games belong at the heart of any vision of Utopia.

This new edition of The Grasshopper includes illustrations from Frank Newfeld created for the book's original publication, as well as an introduction by Thomas Hurka and a new appendix on the meaning of 'play.'
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 215 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 17.78mm | 340.19g
  • Peterborough, Canada
  • English
  • Revised
  • 3rd Revised edition
  • illustrations
  • 1554812151
  • 9781554812158
  • 209,836

Back cover copy

In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. "Nonsense," said the sensible Bernard Suits: "playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles." The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Through the jocular voice of Aesop's Grasshopper, a "shiftless but thoughtful practitioner of applied entomology," Suits not only argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a central part of the ideal of human existence, and so games belong at the heart of any vision of Utopia.

This new edition of The Grasshopper includes illustrations from Frank Newfeld created for the book's original publication, as well as an introduction by Thomas Hurka and a new appendix on the meaning of 'play.'
show more

Table of contents

Introduction by Thomas Hurka
Preface
Acknowledgments
The Players
One: Death of the Grasshopper
Two: Disciples
Three: Construction of a Definition
Four: Triflers, Cheats, and Spoilsports
Five: Taking the Long Way Home
Six: Ivan and Abdul
Seven: Games and Paradox
Eight: Mountain Climbing
Nine: Reverse English
Ten: The Remarkable Career of Porphyryo Sneak
Eleven: The Case History of Bartholomew Drag
Twelve: Open Games
Thirteen: Amateurs, Professionals, and Games People Play
Fourteen: Resurrection
Fifteen: Resolution
Appendix 1: The Fool on the Hill
Appendix 2: Wittgenstein in the Meadow
Appendix 3: Words on Play
show more

Review quote

"Like Erasmus's Praise of Folly and Diderot's Rameau's Nephew, Suits's The Grasshopper sparkles with wit and fun; and outranks those wonderful works in clear, firm philosophical conclusions. Defying certain discouragements, Suits constructs an illuminating definition of games, which he defends in lively dialogues, amusing parables, and cascades of subtle analytical distinctions. That is achievement enough to make a new classic in the history of philosophy. Suits offers more: an application of his definition in a discussion of how much we may have to rely on games--deliberately using relatively inefficient means to reach freely stipulated goals--if life is to continue to have meaning. We may be able to regain thereby the meaning lost as advances in technology enable us to escape one by one the tasks that necessity used to impose on humankind." -- David Braybrooke, Dalhousie University / The University of Texas at Austin

"The Grasshopper is an amazing book. Philosophically profound, yet genuinely funny. While primarily an articulation and defense of a highly plausible definition of games (and we all know what Wittgenstein said about that), it also manages to raise some of the deepest and most challenging questions about the meaning of life. All in the form of dialogues between an insect and his disciples! There is simply nothing else like it." -- Shelly Kagan, Yale University

"Philosophers are not generally known for fine writing, but once in a generation or two a book appears out of nowhere, unclassifiable, inspired, amazing, mesmerizing, wonderful, classic ... " -- Philosophy and Literature
show more

About Bernard Suits

The late Bernard Suits was Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo.

Thomas Hurka is a Canadian philosopher who serves as the Jackman Distinguished Chair in Philosophical Studies at the University of Toronto.
show more

Rating details

342 ratings
4.14 out of 5 stars
5 44% (150)
4 34% (115)
3 16% (56)
2 5% (17)
1 1% (4)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X