2

This quote was revealed to exemplify Definition 1, but working backwards, how would you determine the meaning of contingent? Even after seeing the context, I'm still vacillating between definitions 1 (not 1.1, the one above 1.1) and 3. Don't they both look right?

But, while personal biographies and group histories are mutually immanent, they are relationally irreducible. The same context may produce several different collective 'histories', differentiating as well as linking biographies through contingent specificities. In turn, articulating cultural practices of the subjects so constituted mark contingent collective 'histories' with variable new meanings.

Source: PP 177, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities, by Avtar Brah

1

The two definitions (1 and 3) are actually very different: in a way, they may be closer to being antonyms than synonyms: subject to change vs true... However, this passage is indeed confusing, and as @Peter has commented the verb mark does not match the subject [of the last sentence], adding to the confusion.

For the first contingent instance, the phrase true specificities does not make a lot of sense; subject-to-change specificities, however, is perfectly logical given the context:

The same context may produce several different collective 'histories'.

The second contingent instance also does not lend itself to definition 3: true collective histories? However, the subject-to-change definition does indeed make sense, given the

variable new meanings

context.

-1

I find it helpful to break down the sentences into their logical elements.

In turn, articulating cultural practices of the subjects so constituted mark contingent collective ‘histories’ with variable new meanings.

Statements:

A = "Articulating cultural practices of the subjects"

B = "Constituted mark contingent collective ‘histories’ with variable new meanings."

Elements contained in the statements:

X = "mark contingent collective ‘histories'"

Y = "variable new meanings"

If statement A is true then statement B is true

Therefore X = Y

Therefore the only definition that supports this statement is "Subject to chance."

The second example sentence associated with the definition, provides a more complicated application of this approach.

That the emotions have a history implies that subjects are historically contingent and open to the possibility that they are hence culturally determined.

Statements A = "Emotions have a history."

B = "Subjects are historically contingent."

C = "Subjects are culturally determined.

Elements contained in the statements:

X = "subjects"

Y = "historically contingent"

Z = "culturally determined"

If statement A is true then statement b is true AND statement C is true

Therefore X = Y is True and X = Z is True

Therefore Y = Z

Once again, the only usage that supports this statement is the first defintion.

  • 1
    While this is a complicated sentence, I think it should be analyzed as (1) "In turn, articulating cultural practices of the subjects so constituted" (2) "mark contingent collective ‘histories’ with variable new meanings." (1) is the subject, and (2) is the predicate. The verb is mark, not constituted. With this analysis, unfortunately, the subject and the verb don't match in plurality. But in your analysis, the word "so" is missing, and the words following the verb make no sense to me. – Peter Shor Jul 24 '14 at 17:54
  • -1 This seems to follow interpretation "by logical necessity" rather than "by virtue of the way things in fact are." Lol. 3. at oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/… – Kris Jun 25 '15 at 12:02

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