Josiah Royce

THE Royces came to California during the gold rush days of 1849 and, after many privations and adventures, settled down in Grass Valley, a small but prosperous mining town, where their fourth child and only son Josiah was born on November 20, 1855. For eleven years he knew no other life but that of typical pioneers. Were it not for his mother, his name would probably be totally unknown in our days. Fortunately, however, she was a woman of high ideals, many interests, and strong ambitions for her son. In order to give him proper education, she organized a school in their own house. And finally, largely through her patient insistence, the family moved to San Francisco, where Josiah could go to a regular school and eventually to the University of California at Berkeley. There the young man began to attract his teachers' attention because of his seriousness, intelligence and abilities.

It was at this time that Royce's interest turned from religion to which he always felt sincere devotion to a search of understanding, which resulted in the discovery of philosophy. Though the university curriculum included no instruction in philosophy whatsoever, Royce succeeded in getting some sympathetic help from his instructors in geology ( J. Le Conte) and literature ( E. R. Sill). In 1875 he received an A.B. degree, and the University was able to arrange for him an additional year of study in Goettingen, Germany, where he specialized in philosophy under Lotze, Wundt, and Windelband.

On his return from abroad, D. C. Gilman, president of Johns Hopkins University and previously president of the University of California, offered Royce a fellowship to continue his graduate work, which was, of course, gratefully accepted. Two years later he was granted his doctor's degree and went back to California to teach English in his alma mater.

However, his heart was already set on philosophy. While at Johns Hopkins, Royce had met William James who promised the young man to help him in his ambition. After a couple of years a vacancy occurred at Harvard -- for just one year -- but Royce did


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American Philosophy
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