Hypothesis and the Spiral of Reflection

By David Weissman

Subjects: Metaphysics
Series: SUNY series in Systematic Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791401316, 241 pages, September 1989
Hardcover : 9780791401309, 241 pages, September 1989

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


One. The Spiral of Reflection
1. Maps, Plans, and Interpretations
2. What is Missing in a Phenomenology of Experience
3. Thought is Speculative
4. The Maps of Practice as Extended and Tested Within Science
5. The Beginnings of Metaphysics in Practice and Science
6. Assigning Responsibility for a Comprehensive Account of Categorical Form
7. A Theory of Categorical Form
8. Confirming that a Theory of Categorical Form Applies to Human Beings
9. Nature's Conditions
10. Being
11. Conclusion

Two. The Intuitionist Alternative
1. The Intuitionist Notion of Reality and Inquiry
2. "Empiricism" as a Kind of Intuitionism
3. The Socialization and Autonomy of Intuiting Mind

Three. Hypothesis
1. Interpretation
2. Hypothesis
3. Why We Need to Think Hypothetically
4. The Metaphysical Uses of Hypothesis
5. Hypothesis Used as Description and Explanations
6. The Testing of Metaphysical Hypothesis
7. Objections
8. Conclusion

Four. Sufficient Reason
1. Completeness
2. Being as a Bounded Whole
3. The Principle of Sufficient Reason, and Its Reformulation
4. Proving That the Principle of Sufficient Reason is Valid
5. A Conflict Between Metaphysics and Science
6. An Error to be Averted
7. Conclusion

Five. Ontology
1. Thoughts or Sentences Representing Possible, Sometimes Actual, States of Affairs
2. A Two-part Ontology
3. Actuality and Possibility
4. Alternative Ways of Accounting for Possibility
5. Some Problematic Possibilities
6. Conclusion

Six. Hypothesizing Mind
1. Inferring From Mind's Activities to Its Character
2. Vulnerability and Security
3. Sources of Our Vulnerability
4. Plan-directed Activity as a Security-enhancing Response to Vulnerability
5. Submission and Control, Dependence and Self-sufficiency
6. Provocations to Thought and Action
7. Constraining Values and Ideals
8. Cognitive-affective Balance
9. Selfhood
10. The Faculties Required for Making and Testing Hypotheses
11. What Metaphysics Contributes to Our Well-being
12. Conclusion

Seven. A Forced Choice
1. Criteria for Deciding Between Intuition and Hypothesis
2. Why Intuitionism Survives
3. Alternative Methods

Eight. Facts Obscured by Values




This book describes a realist, fallibilist alternative when intuitionism and its psychocentric ontology are rejected. Weissman proposes an agenda for metaphysical inquiry and also a method for testing metaphysical claims. Arguing that science and metaphysics are successive refinements of the maps and plans used in practical life, he affirms that metaphysics is to complete our self-understanding by locating us within a world we have not made.

This book is a sequel to Intuition and Ideality which surveys the many versions of intuitionism—intuitionism as it prescribes that reality be identified with mind itself or with the things set before our inspecting mind.

David Weissman is Professor of Philosophy at City College of New York. He is the author of Intuition and Ideality, also published by SUNY Press.


"It is without any doubt Weissman's most mature, richest work and builds nicely on his earlier volumes, especially Intuition and Ideality. It is downright delightful to see a careful thinker unabashedly engaged in the great speculative enterprise of metaphysics and to observe with what skill he avoids the minefields that had blown up his predecessors. Hypothesis and the Spiral of Reflection is an important book by a rapidly developing major voice in this country. " — John Lachs, Vanderbilt University

"Written with clarity and elegance, it is a well-argued defense of an important alternative to both analytic philosophy and phenomenology. " —Panayot Butchvarov, The University of Iowa