Philosophic Thought in France and the United States: Essays Representing Major Trends in Contemporary French and American Philosophy

By Marvin Farber | Go to book overview

PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION IN THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Daniel Sommer Robinson*


I. THE STATE OF AFFAIRS AT THE DAWN OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

In 1895 a notable symposium was held at the Philosophical Union of the University of California ( Berkeley). The participants were Professors Josiah Royce ( 1855-1916), J oseph Le Conte ( 1823-1901), G. H. Howison ( 1834-1917), and Sidney E. Mezes ( 1863-1931); and the general theme under consideration was The Conception of God. When the book containing the original contributions of these distinguished philosophers was published in 1897 it bore the subtitle, "A philosophical discussion concerning the nature of the divine idea as a demonstrable reality," and it also included a long supplementary essay by Professor Royce entitled, "The Absolute and the Individual," in which he amplified his position and replied to his critics. The importance of this supplementary essay is indicated by the facts that it restates the author's earlier argument of The Religious Aspects of Philosophy, and contains the germ of his well- known Gifford Lectures, The World and the Individual ( 2 vols, 1901), as well as that of his significant later works, The Philosophy of Loyalty ( 1908), The Sources of Religious Insight ( 1912), and The Problems of Christianity ( 2 vols., 1913).

An introduction by Professor Howison, who was also the editor of the book, not only contains an excellent summary of the discussions, but succinctly states the status of the philosophy of religion at the end of the nineteenth century. He pointed out that attempts to establish religion

____________________
*
Born in 1888. Ph.D. Harvard University, 1917. Professor and Director of the School of Philosophy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. President of the Western Division American Philosophical Association, 1942-1944. During both World Wars he served as a chaplain in the United States Navy. His most recent book is The Principles of Conduct -- An Introduction to Theoretical and Applied Ethics ( 1949).

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