Royce's Social Infinite: The Community of Interpretation

Royce's Social Infinite: The Community of Interpretation

Royce's Social Infinite: The Community of Interpretation

Royce's Social Infinite: The Community of Interpretation

Excerpt

A study of the literature reflecting the philosophical influence of Josiah Royce reveals that at least three very important and valuable parts of his thought have, up to the present time, not been sufficiently treated. These are: the theory of the community of interpretation, the debt to Charles Peirce's thought, particularly his logic, and finally the interpretation of Christianity. Each of these has consequences worthy of note both in philosophy and in related fields of thought. Besides the fact that the community theme furnishes a vantage point from which Royce's entire thought may be surveyed and understood, the theory of the community of interpretation has interesting implications for philosophy which have yet to be explored. Royce's debt to Peirce is not only important historically, but it provides as well an illustration of the important use to which the results of certain logical analyses may be put, and shows that although modern logic may often seem to be barren where synthetic philosophy is concerned it is not so necessarily. In some respects, as the body of this study will show, Royce's interpretation of Christianity is the most significant of all. Unfortunately it has often been believed that Royce only offered some idealistic substitute for traditional Christianity, as Santayana thought, and this, it may be added, has contributed to the neglect of his religious thought. That he offered no such substitute a reading of The Problem of Christianity will demonstrate. His view of Christianity has a peculiar significance at present, for, while he should not be called "neo-orthodox" in one of the senses of that rather vague term, he did try to steer a middle course between naive Fundamentalism on the one hand and that liberalism which hoped to confine itself to the "religion of the historical Jesus," on the other. It would certainly not be incorrect to say that Royce's Christianity is in accord with the main drift of certain leading Protestant thinkers at present.

Although my main purpose has been to set forth Royce's . . .

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