The problem of the relation between historical understanding and contextualization (or contextualization as a kind of understanding) contains a double difficulty. First, when it is a matter of the understanding of a historical phenomenon, there is the problem of the identification of the thing (event, institution, person, etc.) to be understood. Since all things historical must be taken to exist (or to have originated) in a past, such things are no longer open to observation by which to compare different descriptions with their putatively common 'original.' As Louis O. Mink argued, when it is a matter of comparing different descriptions of the same historical event, it is difficult to know what 'same historical event' might mean. So, our first problem concerns the cognitive status of historiological descriptions. Some historians seek to deal with this problem by setting the event to be described (and thereby 'understood,' if not 'explained') within its original context. Here a second problem arises. The term 'context' and the idea of contextualization as a way of explaining or comprehending a historical event derive from the practice of textual analysis. Here to comprehend the meaning a word or phrase by setting it into its 'context' presupposes knowledge of the rules of the grammar, syntax, and rhetoric and diction of the language in which the text under analysis is cast. But it has to be said that, when it comes to the past, it is the very rules of selection and combination — the very 'grammar' and 'syntax' — of a given event and its context that have to be determined. Indeed, the idea of historical development, change, or evolution presumes that not only are events and things in history continually changing, but that the principles by which events and things are related to each other are changing as well. This means that the description of the relations between events and their contexts is as problematical as the description of the events that are supposed to be 'understood' by 'contextualization' themselves. All this suggests that we might approach the problem of understanding (by contextualization) by way of a theory of modes of relationship. Obviously, things in real life (as against texts) are related to one another in a variety of modalities, of which that of material or mechanistic causality is only one. They may be related also antithetically (by opposition), by similarity (generically), or merely by contiguity (relative proximity or as parts to wholes) — or all of these at once. An adequate description of a thing of the past that can be discerned only by way of documents, monuments, remains, etc., and of the thing's relationship to its context(s) would utilize all of the modalities of relationship presumed to exist among things which are undergoing changes within contexts which are themselves constantly changing. The 'understanding' of such things would consist of various kinds of 'recognition,' not of the essence or substances of the things described but of the modalities of their possible relationships.