The Relevance of Royce

The Relevance of Royce

The Relevance of Royce

The Relevance of Royce

Synopsis

This collection represents the rediscovery of Josiah Royce's rich legacy that has occurred over the past decade. The first part presents a series of historical explorations. The second takes up practical extensions of Royce's work, bringing his ideas and methods to bear on contemporary philosophical matters. Among the topics addressed are the paradoxes of individualism; loyalty, democracy, and community; Royce's efforts to respond to historical American racism; his contributions to engaged inter-faith religious discourse; the promise of his theory of error for a feminist account of knowledge; and his ethics of loyalty as a component in medical ethics.

Excerpt

Kelly A. Parker and Jason Bell

In his own day, at Harvard University at the turn of the twentieth century, Josiah Royce was one of America’s premier philosophical exports, as well as a prominent interpreter of European and Asian thought to a domestic audience. Royce and his colleague William James were probably the two most prominent figures in American philosophy. Indeed, the arguments between Royce and James were played out for an international audience in numerous lectures, publications, and classrooms (the dialogue is evident, for example, in their respective Gifford Lectures, delivered between 1898 and 1902). But after Royce’s death, and after two world wars, the topics dear to him—loyalty, idealism, and systematic metaphysics among them—faded from mainstream philosophical discussion. Part of the reason for this eclipse is that Royce baptized no disciples, preferring instead to engage his students and readers in the provocations of dialectical exchange. Then, too, the vagaries of history and intellectual fashion intervened. Just as the “new realist” challenges to his core positions were gaining ascendancy Royce passed away, at age sixty-one, without having offered a proper published response.

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