Royce, Josiah

Royce, Josiah,

1855–1916, American philosopher, b. California, grad. Univ. of California, 1873. After studying in Germany and at Johns Hopkins, he returned to California to teach (1878–82). From 1882 until his death he was at Harvard, becoming a professor in 1892. Among his works are The Spirit of Modern Philosophy (1892), The World and the Individual (1900–1901), The Philosophy of Loyalty (1908), and Lectures on Modern Idealism (1919). Royce, thoroughly grounded in history and cognizant of scientific thought, was the foremost American idealist. He held that reality is the life of an absolute mind. We know truth beyond ourselves because we are a part of the logos, or world-mind. Science successfully depends on description, but appreciation must precede description and consequently ideals must be deeper than the mechanism of science. The natural order of the world must be also a moral order. Our ethical obligation is to the moral order and takes the form of loyalty to the great community of all individuals.


See biography by B. Kuklick (1972, repr. 1985); studies by G. Marcel (tr. 1965), P. L. Fuss (1965), T. F. Powell (1967), B. B. Singh (1973), F. M. Oppenheim (1980), and J. Clendenning (1985).

Royce, Josiah


Born Nov. 20, 1855, in Grass Valley, Calif.; died Sept. 14, 1916, in Cambridge, Mass. American idealist philosopher.

In 1892, Royce became a professor of history and philosophy at Harvard University. He was strongly influenced by German classical idealism, chiefly the philosophy of I. Kant and G. Hegel, and by the English neo-Hegelian philosopher T. Green. Royce developed the concept of absolute voluntarism, according to which individual selves constitute in their totality a universal community that fulfills the will of the Absolute Self, drawing us into the “other” world of divine harmony. By joining in political, economic, and religious communities, individuals form a perfect order. Royce regarded American bourgeois society as the embodiment of the will of the Absolute and loyalty to the existing order as the supreme virtue.

Royce also wrote works on mathematical logic and the foundation of mathematics. His philosophy exerted an influence on American neopragmatism and personalism.


The Religious Aspect of Philosophy. Boston-New York, 1885.
The World and the Individual. New York-London, 1901.
The Hope of the Great Community. New York, 1916.
Lectures on Modern Idealism. New Haven, Conn., 1919.
Logical Essays. Dubuque, Iowa, 1951.


Iakovenko, B. “Filosofskaia sistema Zh. Roisa.” In the collection Novye idei v filosofii, collection 17. St. Petersburg, 1914.
Bogomolov, A. S. Burzhuaznaia filosofiia SShA XX veka. Moscow, 1974. Pages 24–35.
Buranelli, V. Josiah Royce. New York, 1964.
Fuss, P. The Moral Philosophy of Josiah Royce. Cambridge, Mass., 1965.


Royce, Josiah

(1855–1916) philosopher: born in Grass Valley, Calif. The son of poor parents who had journeyed to California in the 1849 gold rush, he graduated from the University of California (1875), then studied in Germany, where he was influenced by post-Kantian idealism, and at Johns Hopkins University. In 1878, at William James's invitation, he joined the Harvard faculty, becoming one of its most celebrated teachers. In such works as Religious Aspects of Philosophy (1885) and The World and the Individual (1900–01), he developed a religiously oriented brand of absolute idealism. In later years he devoted increased attention both to technical problems of logic and mathematics and to moral and religious issues of broad interest.
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