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When one is thinking of a certain 'idea' one is making certain implicit assumptions perhaps without even realizing it. Some of these assumptions become much harder to find out if the idea is used frequently or is used to build more complicated ideas. Is there a philosophical method that can help one find some of these implicit assumptions?

  • Analysis. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 28 at 10:29
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    A correction first. Treating elements of later elaborations as "implicit" in the original ideas is a very common and very naive reification after the fact. Vague ideas are just that, they do not have hidden genetic codes for what is made of them later. And they can be and often are developed into a multitude of variants with mutually incompatible assumptions (calculus is a typical example). Carnap named this elaboration process explication. – Conifold Apr 28 at 11:12
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    There is an important method or frame-of-mind and it would be vital at all times. It's called 'Cartesian doubt'. – user20253 Apr 28 at 12:50
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    The content is as vague, unformed, sometimes even incoherent. It is not like Fermat had one of modern theories of infinitesimals or limits buried in the recesses of his mind when he was finding tangents. And his manipulations were rather indifferent to the assumptions that were invented to ground them. On another note, Husserl's phenomenology was always attentive to uncovering stereotypes of thought and "suspending" them in epoche to get to "pure" phenomena. But it is open to the parallel criticism of falling into the myth of the given. – Conifold Apr 28 at 13:10
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    Vagueness is very useful, Peirce made a big point out of it. It allows to make progress before real understanding is achieved. He even rehabilitates the opium's "sleep-inducing power", derided by Moliere, as setting up a study project that leads towards the actual alcaloid responsible for it. But it means that this content, such as it is, does not lend itself to breakdown into "implicit" assumptions and inferences. Explication is not a process of illuminating and clarifying a "given", something already there. Despite the fact that textbooks often present it as such. – Conifold Apr 28 at 23:25

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