Royce, a (Very) Brief Introduction


In early December I started reading The Philosophy of Josiah Royce.

Before I go any further in this post, I must confess I’m only half way through, so I reserve the right to modify my opinion in the future, but as it stands now, I feel that the philosophy of Josiah Royce will be the new baseline from which I continue all my future work. When I search for words to describe my feelings on discovering Royce, I keep thinking of Nietzsche’s sentiment on his discovery of Spinoza, “I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor!”

Royce is a forgotten, one may say almost unknown, American philosopher. He is generally considered to belong to the school of American Pragmatism. Pragmatism has sadly been neglected as a philosophical school in the modern age, although it still has some cache as an influence in psychology, due to the valuable work of founder William James, and in the largely misnamed social “sciences”, due to the fake pragmatist and general communist villain John Dewey.

You’d never know it from the wikipedia page, but Royce is one of the founding three members of American Pragmatism. I believe Royce has largely been excised because his philosophy is decidedly Idealistic and religious. By Idealism I mean philosophical Idealism, not the colloquial sense of being “well meaning but naive”. While the full implications of Idealism and by extension Royce’s philosophy go far beyond what I can express in a single post, Idealism generally assets that the fundamental nature of reality is consciousness or mental phenomenon. By religious I mean that Royce is most concerned with the profound questions of metaphysical significance and the nature of the supreme and absolute Being, aka “God” – both unfashionable avenues of exploration in today’s intellectual climate.

I would like to say more, and will in the future, but that’s all the time I can devote to the blog today.

Best wishes,

– B

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