an essay in retrieval

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Senior Member
In order to reconstruct a conception of justice focused on the character of relations among persons that could play a significant role in shaping our ideas, we must first recover some of the intellectual materials out of which earlier conceptions were fashioned. In this sense, the present book is an essay in retrieval as well as a survey of the past.(A Brief History of Justice, David Johnston)

What does "essay i
n retrieval" means? It seems to me to mean "in retrospect". But still I cannot make full sense of "an essay in retrospect".Please give me some advice.
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  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Apparently the author is going to not only describe the materials he found, but will also describe his efforts to find those materials.
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