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By Gerda Reith

This attention-grabbing and large research, enlivened via interviews with British and American gamblers, can be spell binding analyzing not only for these attracted to the cultural and social implications of playing - researchers in sociology, cultural reports and the background of rules - yet for someone attracted to how we create which means in an more and more insecure international.

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Extra resources for Age of Chance: Gambling in Western Culture (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought, Number 22)

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By the twentieth century, chance had been stripped of its sacred and metaphysical attributes to become a secular tool of scientific explanation, so that what were once regarded as divine laws came to be understood as statistical probabilities. 14 THE AGE OF CHANCE For the first time, chance became radically autonomous; an ontological category in its own right. This process can be regarded as a secularisation of chance, and it is this, as well as its implications for the removal of metaphysical meaning from the world, that are the subject of this chapter.

137). The result of these early, deterministic studies was the swift removal of chance from the real world and its location firmly within the human mind. In the Age of Reason, everything had a cause, whether material or transcendental, and so chance had no place in the world. It was an irrational aberration which could be banished by the application of reason and the advance of knowledge. Chance thus had no real being, and existed only in an epistemological sense as a deficit, a lack of knowledge.

It is here that the dynamic of 12 INTRODUCTION gambling itself—the tension between uncertainty and order, chance and meaning —is to be found. Thus players’ deliberate seeking out of the gambling environment is portrayed as a symbolic testing of their luck, whose implications reach far beyond the immediate game and into the wider uncertainty of life in an Age of Chance. In this way then, The Age of Chance attempts to examine the phenomenon of gambling in both its historical and contemporary forms; in relation to social structure and to individual consciousness, and, from the analysis of its many separate fragments, attempts to arrive at a picture of it that is a ‘totality not a collection’ and which, in its essential form, reveals something fundamental about western society.

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