As is well known, or at least, as is much said, Michelangelo described himself, in sculpting, as merely removing the marble obscuring the sculpture latent within it. (Or perhaps as removing the parts he didn't want. But let's go with the formula previously given.) We can give this a strong reading: the sculpture is already there in the marble and has only to be revealed by the sculptor. In that case, the sculptor can do well or poorly according to how well the thing, when declared done, actually does align with the latent sculpture. That is, the sculpture already in the marble gives the standard of correctness for the sculptor's activities, and it is a valid question, both for the sculptor and for appreciators of the result, whether the sculptor got it right. And that question stands regardless of how satisfied with the sculpture, considered as it were in its own right, anyone might be. Michelangelo's David: a masterpiece, without question, a virtuoso work with which anyone ought be satisfied. But perhaps in that block of marble there lurked—a statue of Perseus. Michelangelo, and we, might be perfectly satisfied with the sculpture. But it's wrong; irretrievably so, in fact.
No one really cares whether or not the sculpture in fact produced corresponds to what lay within the marble, which is as good a sign as any, I suppose, that no one actually believes that there is such a latent sculpture. The example occurred to me, though, during a talk at the APA on the subject of articulating one's thoughts, in which it was presumed that there is a real thought, had but not known, prior to its being put into words. The leading example was: after a seminar, or a colloquium, one is nagged by an inarticulate objection one can't quite put one's finger on, to which one wants to give words, and the leading presumption was a realist one: in such a case, there is a fully formed, determinate, articulated-in-itself (the way a skeleton is articulated; it has joints, verbal parts) thought that one really does have. The only problem is that one doesn't know its articulation. The task of "articulating one's thought" is the task of finding out what words correspond to the thought.
There are several consequences of this presumption. One is that when you think back about the subject matter of the seminar/colloquium, the point of doing so isn't (or isn't just) to figure out what you think about it, to formulate a thought about it. You think about the subject matter because you think it will help you accomplish the task you are actually set, which is to uncover the content of a thought you already had. If you work through the subject matter and come to an understanding with which you are wholly content, which you have articulated (you have given words to it), there's still the question: but is this the thought that I previously had?
I think that no one, when they've come to an understanding, a formulation, with which they're satisfied as regards the subject matter, actually goes on to ask that question. No one cares about it, any more than they care about whether Michelangelo got it right. Good thing, too, because how could you tell? People take having arrived at a response that presently satisfies them as a reason to stop deliberating; it resolves the mental itch that got them started. People speak as if they're trying to get at a thought already had, but they act as if they're trying to give shape to something as yet indeterminate, based on the hunch: there might be a thought to think here. And I think this is a pretty good reason to think that, really, people don't think that they have fully determinate, but unknown, thoughts, in this sort of case, anyway.
(Long-time readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that I, of course, think that there is no determinate thought prior to the conclusion of the process of deliberation, and that the same goes for desires, as my several posts about Krista Lawlor's paper on desire probably suggested or possibly even said outright—it's been a while. Many years ago I actually used the same line of thought in talking about desires with her, for dissertation-related reasons: you might wonder "what flavor of ice cream do I want?", decide to get vanilla, be perfectly happy with it—and yet, on the view that holds that there was already a fully determinate but unarticulated desire, be wrong! You actually wanted chocolate.)