Catalogue


Jane Austen, game theorist [electronic resource] /
Michael Suk-Young Chwe.
imprint
Princeton ; Oxford : Princeton University Press, [2013]
description
xii, 272 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780691155760 (cloth : acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Princeton ; Oxford : Princeton University Press, [2013]
isbn
9780691155760 (cloth : acid-free paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
11667718
 
Includes bibliographical references (pages 235-249) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Michael Chwe shows that Jane Austen is a strategic analyst--a game theorist whose characters exercise strategic thinking. Game theorists usually study war, business, crime and punishment, diplomacy, politics, and one-upmanship. Jane Austen studies social advancement, romantic relationships, and even gamesmanship. Game theorists will enjoy this venture into unfamiliar territory, while Jane Austen fans will enjoy being illuminated about their favorite author's strategic acumen--and learn a little game theory besides."--Thomas C. Schelling, Nobel Laureate in Economics "Jane Austen's novels provide wonderful examples of strategic thinking in the lives of ordinary people. In Jane Austen, Game Theorist , Michael Chwe brilliantly brings out these strategies, and Austen's intuitive game-theoretic analysis of these situations and actions. This book will transform the way you read literature."--Avinash Dixit, coauthor of The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life "Jane Austen, game theorist?! You will cry, how absurd! But you will be wrong. Michael Chwe's beautifully written and argued book makes the case, crushingly, that Our Jane was fascinated by human prudent interaction--what the game theorists call strategy. Based on deep familiarity with the novels and their scholarly literature, his book will instruct and delight both literary critics and economists. Combining the humanities and social sciences for mutual illumination, Chwe practices a 'humanomics' masterfully."--Deirdre N. McCloskey, University of Illinois, Chicago "Whether you're an intelligent strategic thinker or a clueless bureaucrat, this book will teach and delight you. The merger of game theory and Jane Austen, with extended examples from African American folklore and U.S. foreign policy, provides the best study I know of motive and cluelessness. Michael Chwe, a rare breed of political scientist, has raised the game of two disciplines. This is a genuinely interdisciplinary work that avoids the reductionism of much game theory and the provincialism of many Austen admirers."--Regenia Gagnier, author of The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society "It would be useful for everyone to understand a little bit more about strategic thinking. Jane Austen seems not only to get this, but to explore it obsessively. Looking at Austen and other works, this persuasive book shows that the game theory in historical sources is not inherently opposed to humanistic thinking, but embedded within it."--Laura J. Rosenthal, University of Maryland "Polished, organized, and well-documented, this book demonstrates the existence of well-defined game theory in historical texts. Jane Austen, in particular, develops a clear model of strategic thinking in her novels. Michael Chwe shows the efficacy and pitfalls of such thinking in her characters' actions, and in their perceptions and understanding of the actions of others. An enjoyable read."--Susan Skeath, coauthor of Games of Strategy
Flap Copy
"Michael Chwe shows that Jane Austen is a strategic analyst--a game theorist whose characters exercise strategic thinking. Game theorists usually study war, business, crime and punishment, diplomacy, politics, and one-upmanship. Jane Austen studies social advancement, romantic relationships, and even gamesmanship. Game theorists will enjoy this venture into unfamiliar territory, while Jane Austen fans will enjoy being illuminated about their favorite author's strategic acumen--and learn a little game theory besides."-- Thomas C. Schelling, Nobel Laureate in Economics "Jane Austen's novels provide wonderful examples of strategic thinking in the lives of ordinary people. In Jane Austen, Game Theorist , Michael Chwe brilliantly brings out these strategies, and Austen's intuitive game-theoretic analysis of these situations and actions. This book will transform the way you read literature."-- Avinash Dixit, coauthor of The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life "Jane Austen, game theorist?! You will cry, how absurd! But you will be wrong. Michael Chwe's beautifully written and argued book makes the case, crushingly, that Our Jane was fascinated by human prudent interaction--what the game theorists call strategy. Based on deep familiarity with the novels and their scholarly literature, his book will instruct and delight both literary critics and economists. Combining the humanities and social sciences for mutual illumination, Chwe practices a 'humanomics' masterfully."-- Deirdre N. McCloskey, University of Illinois, Chicago "Whether you're an intelligent strategic thinker or a clueless bureaucrat, this book will teach and delight you. The merger of game theory and Jane Austen, with extended examples from African American folklore and U.S. foreign policy, provides the best study I know of motive and cluelessness. Michael Chwe, a rare breed of political scientist, has raised the game of two disciplines. This is a genuinely interdisciplinary work that avoids the reductionism of much game theory and the provincialism of many Austen admirers."-- Regenia Gagnier, author of The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society "It would be useful for everyone to understand a little bit more about strategic thinking. Jane Austen seems not only to get this, but to explore it obsessively. Looking at Austen and other works, this persuasive book shows that the game theory in historical sources is not inherently opposed to humanistic thinking, but embedded within it."-- Laura J. Rosenthal, University of Maryland "Polished, organized, and well-documented, this book demonstrates the existence of well-defined game theory in historical texts. Jane Austen, in particular, develops a clear model of strategic thinking in her novels. Michael Chwe shows the efficacy and pitfalls of such thinking in her characters' actions, and in their perceptions and understanding of the actions of others. An enjoyable read."-- Susan Skeath, coauthor of Games of Strategy
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2013-09-01:
Game theory, developed by mathematician John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern in the 1940s, is about strategic decision making. UCLA social scientist Chwe (Univ. of California, Los Angeles) argues that 19th-century English novelist Jane Austen may have beaten them to the punch. His book's first several chapters introduce basic game theory concepts and constructs and provide a CliffsNotes-like review of Austen's six major works. Then Chwe sets about, omitting the quantification that usually accompanies one of economics' more model- and math-laden subfields, to dissect her writing, and aspects such as intentions, manipulation, persuasion, and "cluelessness," in observing human behavior and relationships. Well researched and with an excellent index, the book will appeal to Austen fans who can see her characters in another light, and to students of game theory who will see vindication for the Nobel committees having awarded economic prizes in 1994, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2012 to game theorists. (Chwe's applications to African American folktales and US military mistakes are more speculative and ideological in nature and, in this reviewer's opinion, detract.) But make no mistake: this is not light reading, and it is first and foremost an intellectually rigorous exposition and analysis of game theory. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Students at all levels, faculty, general readers. A. R. Sanderson University of Chicago
Reviews
Review Quotes
Jane Austen, Game Theorist . . . is more than the larky scholarly equivalent of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.'. . . Mr. Chwe argues that Austen isn't merely fodder for game-theoretical analysis, but an unacknowledged founder of the discipline itself: a kind of Empire-waisted version of the mathematician and cold war thinker John von Neumann, ruthlessly breaking down the stratagems of 18th-century social warfare.
" Jane Austen, Game Theorist . . . is more than the larky scholarly equivalent of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.'. . . Mr. Chwe argues that Austen isn't merely fodder for game-theoretical analysis, but an unacknowledged founder of the discipline itself: a kind of Empire-waisted version of the mathematician and cold war thinker John von Neumann, ruthlessly breaking down the stratagems of 18th-century social warfare."-- Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times
This is such a fabulous book--carefully written, thoughtful and insightful . . .
"This is such a fabulous book--carefully written, thoughtful and insightful . . ."-- Guardian.co.uk's Grrl Scientist blog
"[A] convincing case for how mathematical models and fictional narratives can work towards reciprocal illustration."-- Jonathan Sachs, Times Literary Supplement
"[B]lends two very different subjects--game theory and literature--delightfully."-- Siddarth Singh, Mint
This item was reviewed in:
Guardian UK, June 2013
Choice, September 2013
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Game theory--the study of how people make choices while interacting with others--is one of the most popular technical approaches in social science today. But as Michael Chwe reveals in his insightful new book, Jane Austen explored game theory's core ideas in her six novels roughly two hundred years ago. Jane Austen, Game Theorist shows how this beloved writer theorized choice and preferences, prized strategic thinking, argued that jointly strategizing with a partner is the surest foundation for intimacy, and analyzed why superiors are often strategically clueless about inferiors. With a diverse range of literature and folktales, this book illustrates the wide relevance of game theory and how, fundamentally, we are all strategic thinkers. Although game theory's mathematical development began in the Cold War 1950s, Chwe finds that game theory has earlier subversive historical roots in Austen's novels and in "folk game theory" traditions, including African American folktales. Chwe makes the case that these literary forebears are game theory's true scientific predecessors. He considers how Austen in particular analyzed "cluelessness"--the conspicuous absence of strategic thinking--and how her sharp observations apply to a variety of situations, including U.S. military blunders in Iraq and Vietnam. Jane Austen, Game Theorist brings together the study of literature and social science in an original and surprising way.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. xi
Abbreviationsp. xiii
The Argumentp. 1
Game Theory in Contextp. 9
Rational Choice Theoryp. 9
Game Theoryp. 12
Strategic Thinkingp. 15
How Game Theory Is Usefulp. 19
Criticismsp. 25
Game Theory and Literaturep. 30
Folktales and Civil Rightsp. 35
Flossie and the Foxp. 43
Jane Austen's Six Novelsp. 49
Pride and Prejudicep. 50
Sense and Sensibilityp. 54
Persuasionp. 60
Northanger Abbeyp. 67
Mansfield Parkp. 75
Emmap. 86
Austen's Foundations of Game Theoryp. 97
Choicep. 97
Preferencesp. 102
Revealed Preferencesp. 105
Names for Strategic Thinkingp. 107
Strategic Sophomoresp. 111
Eyesp. 113
Austen's Competing Modelsp. 115
Emotionsp. 115
Instinctsp. 119
Habitsp. 121
Rulesp. 124
Social Factorsp. 127
Ideologyp. 128
Intoxicationp. 130
Constraintsp. 130
Austen on What Strategic Thinking Is Notp. 133
Strategic Thinking Is Not Selfishp. 133
Strategic Thinking Is Not Moralisticp. 134
Strategic Thinking Is Not Economisticp. 135
Strategic Thinking Is Not About Winning Inconsequential Gamesp. 137
Austen's Innovationsp. 141
Partners in Strategic Manipulationp. 141
Strategizing About Yourselfp. 153
Preference Changep. 158
Constancyp. 167
Austen on Strategic Thinking's Disadvantagesp. 171
Austen's Intentionsp. 179
Austen on Cluelessnessp. 188
Lack of Natural Abilityp. 188
Social Distancep. 198
Excessive Self-Referencep. 200
High-Status People Are Not Supposed to Enter the Minds of Low-Status Peoplep. 202
Presumption Sometimes Worksp. 205
Decisive Blundersp. 205
Real-World Cluelessnessp. 211
Cluelessness Is Easierp. 211
Difficulty Embodying Low-Status Othersp. 213
Investing in Social Statusp. 217
Improving Your Bargaining Positionp. 219
Empathy Preventionp. 224
Calling People Animalsp. 225
Concluding Remarksp. 228
Referencesp. 235
Indexp. 251
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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