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    #1

    Permutations of consciousness

    Dear teachers:

    Again a whole paragraph for only one short question.

    Could you fine tune the red phrase in the follwing paragraph for me, that is, bring out the contextual meaning here? Thanks a million.

    Ian2
    ********************************************

    Conceptions of the past are far from stable. They are perennially revised by the urgencies of the present. When new urgencies arise in our own times and lives, the historian’s spotlight shifts, probing at last into the darkness, throwing into sharp relief things that were always there but that earlier historians had carelessly excised from the collective memory. New voices ring out of the historical dark and demand to be heard.

    One has only to note how in the last half-century the movements for women’s rights and civil rights have reformulated and renewed American history. Thus the present incessantly reinvents the past. In this sense, all history, as Benedetto Croce said, is contemporary history. It is these permutations of consciousness that make history so endlessly fascinating an intellectual adventure. “The one duty we owe to history,” said Oscar Wilde, “is to rewrite it.”

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    #2

    Re: Permutations of consciousness

    Quote Originally Posted by ian2 View Post
    Dear teachers:

    Again a whole paragraph for only one short question.

    Could you fine tune the red phrase in the follwing paragraph for me, that is, bring out the contextual meaning here? Thanks a million.

    Ian2
    ********************************************

    Conceptions of the past are far from stable. They are perennially revised by the urgencies of the present. When new urgencies arise in our own times and lives, the historian’s spotlight shifts, probing at last into the darkness, throwing into sharp relief things that were always there but that earlier historians had carelessly excised from the collective memory. New voices ring out of the historical dark and demand to be heard.

    One has only to note how in the last half-century the movements for women’s rights and civil rights have reformulated and renewed American history. Thus the present incessantly reinvents the past. In this sense, all history, as Benedetto Croce said, is contemporary history. It is these permutations of consciousness that make history so endlessly fascinating an intellectual adventure. “The one duty we owe to history,” said Oscar Wilde, “is to rewrite it.”

    ie the different ways in which a set of things can be ordered. The possible permutations is the possible combinations. Rewriting history is considering those permutations which were not considered before. Mathematically speaking the permutations of x, y and z are:
    xzy, yxz, yzx, zxy and zyx

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