Josiah Royce

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Josiah Royce (1855-11-20 - 1916-09-14) was an American objective idealist philosopher.

Royce was born in Grass Valley, California, studied philosophy at Johns Hopkins University under Charles Peirce, and taught it at Harvard. His key works include The Religious Aspect of Philosophy (1885) and The World and the Individual (1900-01).

Royce liked to tell a story about his conversation with a ship's captain. The captain confessed that although he had no education in philosophy he had often wondered whether the whole ocean on which he sailed, and the land and sky, might not be a dream. Royce confessed that he had such thoughts, too.

"What do you teach about that at Harvard?" the captain asked. "I teach that the ocean and stars are real, but not as real as we might be tempted to think," Royce replied.

The heart of Royce's idealist philosophy was his contention that the apparently external world has real existence only as known by an ideal Knower, and that this Knower must be actual rather than merely hypothetical. He offered various arguments for this contention in both of the aforementioned key works. He appears never to have repudiated this view even though his later works are largely devoted to exposition of his philosophy of community.

Philosophers influenced by Royce include Brand Blanshard in the United States and Timothy L.S. Sprigge in the United Kingdom.


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