An Idealistic Pragmatism the Development of the Pragmatic Element in the Philosophy of Josiah Royce
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Beatrice H. Zedler
Francis J. Collingwood
It was about two years ago, while taking a graduate course in American philosophy, that I first became interested in the philosophy of Josiah Royce. At the time two factors in his thought particularly intrigued me. The first was Royce's claim that the notion of community was his main metaphysical tenet; the second was his close association with the two American pragmatists, Charles Sanders Peirce and William James. Regarding the first factor, I was struck by the fact that a philosopher who died in 1916 should emphasize a topic of such contemporary significance not only in philosophy but also in fields such as sociology, psychology and theology. Regarding the second, I was curious as to whether the pragmatism of Peirce and James might have influenced Royce during the course of their professional and personal contacts. Similarly, I wondered whether the idealism of Royce might have affected the thought of Peirce and James. To have appeased my curiosity in regard to all three thinkers, however, would have required three dissertations. In the interest of efficiency, I selected one.
In researching the writings of Royce I had necessarily to find my way to the Houghton Library and to the Archives of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the unpublished manuscripts of Royce are preserved. Since Volumes 1 through 52 are fro the most part the manuscripts of Royce's published books and articles, my time at Harvard was spent mostly on Volumes 53 through 98. While I found no startling divergence from Royce's published positions in the unpublished material, I was able, by researching the latter, to discover certain texts more suited tot the purpose of my dissertation. On one point in particular (the social aspect of the knowing process), I found a great deal more material in the unpublished writings than in the published works. On the whole, the access to both published and unpublished sources lent more cogency to basic evaluations of the thought of Royce.
In pursuing the topic which titles this dissertation I have also explored Royce's notion of community to the extent of having become greatly appreciative of the contemporary relevance of his philosophy. As a result the present resurgence of interest in the works Royce seems more than justified. I delight that some of the vital insights of this American thinker are being shared today to a greater extent than ever before.