Vocabulary from Sartre

23:47 Mon 12 Mar 2007
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Reading Sartre (specifically Essays in Existentialism) tends to be fairly frustrating, primarily because comprehending what he’s talking about isn’t easy (at least for me). One of the reasons that it’s not easy is vocabulary. I’m not even counting explicitly foreign words like ebschattungen, or explicit (foreign) neologisms like négatité.

Much of it is difficult regardless of individual vocabulary. Much of the time we can understand the individual words but still not get what the hell he’s talking about.

Recently, though, three words in particular have made understanding difficult:

* thetically
* noetically
* hodological

The first isn’t that bad. We eventually worked it out by figuring that it had the same relationship to thesis that hypothetically has to hypothesis, and this shed a small amount of light on what Sartre was talking about (the way that consciousness experiences emotional states without being conscious of itself in the sense of making theses about what’s going on).

Seth is sure he’s come across the second before, but we couldn’t tease its meaning out. “Of or pertaining to the mind”, apparently. That actually seems like it could be useful at some point.

Lastly, though, we have “hodological”. I had no clue at all about this one, and neither did Seth. I couldn’t think of any other words with that root—impressively, Seth did come up with one: “odometer”. We couldn’t make it fit in with Sartre’s usage (“hodological map”, which sounds rather like something you’d hear on the bridge of the Enterprise), but it wasn’t that far off. “Hodos” is Greek for “path” or “way”. According to this article on the Anthropological Concept of Space, “‘hodological space’ is based on the factual topological, physical, social, and psychological conditions a person is faced with on the way from point A to point B, whether in an open landscape or within urban or architectural conditions”.

I suspect we might have understood that section of Sartre a lot better if we’d known that.

It’s definitely a learning experience, if a frustrating one at times.

As comic relief we came up with the following cycle of five “nihilating” MTG cards, all titled with phrases from the book: Nihilating Judgment (W), Nihilating Consciousness (U), Nihilating Refusal (B), Nihilating Power (R), Nihilating Ground (G). (Just names, no abilities as yet.)

4 Responses to “Vocabulary from Sartre”

  1. NiallM Says:

    Nihilating Consciousness – instead of drawing a card, you get to discard as many cards from your hand as you have untapped land, and randomly choose a corresponding number of cards from your opponent’s hand. These cards go to the graveyard.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    Heh, I know you haven’t included a casting cost, but that seems like it would be either way too good or unplayable, without much room in between. Also, discard effects are generally Black, not Blue… still, I can’t think of a better alternative for the card offhand, so who am I do criticize?

  3. NiallM Says:

    Casting cost 5?

    Nihilating Power: enchantment, cost 3, upkeep 1 per turn.. An enervating beam strikes a caster selected creature of the other player. The opposing player must consequently nominate another creature on the caster’s side. Thereafter, the two creatures fates are linked; the targetted creature can only act if the other creature acts, and will always act last.

  4. Tadhg Says:

    That’s rather different from my thought on it, which is:
    Nihilating Power
    Nihilating Power deals 5 damage to target creature. If that creature would go to the graveyard this turn, remove if from the game instead. If you do, Nihilatiing Power deals damage equal to that creature’s converted mana cost to that creature’s controller.

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