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The philosophical outlook seemed to find its confirmation in science, and science provided materials for the development and working out in detail of the philosophical outlook.

-- Materialism and the Dialectical Method - Maurice Cornforth

I find some meaning of "work out" in the dictionary but I don't know which one fits best. Could you tell me what "working out" means in the context?

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  • 1
    Heh heh. It obviously is referring to doing your political science homework at the gym.
    – BillOnne
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 15:42
  • 3
    Please post your research for the word "work out". Thanks.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 15:43

2 Answers 2

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The term "work" in this context refers to details of analysis. In this case, it is some sort of political or philosophical analysis.

There is an instruction one often hears on taking a test, especially in maths or subjects involving a lot of maths. "Show your work." It means, don't just give the answer, but show how you got the answer. Because the marking of the exam will include evaluating how the answer was produced.

So "working out" in this context means the details of the analysis that produced the result. In this case, it is probably such things as giving the basis of an argument, giving the implications drawn, giving the support for those implications, then giving the conclusion.

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  • So, could I place "unfolding" instead of "working out" without changing the meaning?
    – XVI
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 16:11
  • If you have more questions, ask them as questions.
    – BillOnne
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 19:50
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Consider the following definitions (given by Merriam-Webster) of the verb 'to work out':

  1. to bring about by labor and exertion
  2. to solve (something, such as a problem) by a process of reasoning or calculation
  3. to devise, arrange, or achieve by resolving difficulties
  4. develop

An 'outlook' cannot logically be solved, or brought about by labor and exertion, so definitions 1. and 2. do not apply here.
The 'development', as per the fourth definition, of the philosophical outlook has already been stated explicitly in the sentence.
What we are left with is definition 3.
I interpret the sentence to point out that the philosophical standpoint can be developed and structured (in the sense of 'arranged') by the materials that science provides:

(The philosophical outlook seemed to find its confirmation in science, and) science provided materials for the development and [structuring] in detail of the philosophical outlook.

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  • "What we are left with is definition 3". You mean definition 4?
    – XVI
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 12:53
  • 1
    @XVI No, 3. But another mistake, which has been rectified, probably confused you. Thanks :)
    – Joachim
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 14:54

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