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Yes, But Not Quite

Encountering Josiah Royce's Ethico-Religious Insight

Dwayne Tunstall

Publication Year: 2009

This book contends that Josiah Royce bequeathed to philosophy a novel idealism based on an ethico-religious insight. This insight became the basis for an idealistic personalism, wherein the Real is the personal and a metaphysics of community is the most appropriate approach to metaphysics for personal beings, especially in an often impersonal and technological intellectual climate. The first part of the book traces how Royce constructed his idealistic personalism in response to criticisms made by George Holmes Howison. That personalism is interpreted as an ethical and panentheistic one, somewhat akin to Charles Hartshorne's process philosophy. The second part investigates Royce's idealistic metaphysics in general and his ethico-religious insight in particular. In the course of these investigations, the author examines how Royce's ethico-religious insight could be strengthened by incorporating the philosophical theology of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Emmanuel Levinas's ethical metaphysics. The author concludes by briefly exploring the possibility that Royce's progressive racial anti-essentialism is, in fact, a form of cultural, antiblack racism and asks whether his cultural, antiblack racism taints his ethico-religious insight.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xii

This book began its life as my master’s thesis at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, entitled ‘‘Josiah Royce’s Personalism.’’ To appreciate how all the diverse threads of philosophic argumentation in this book hang together, one must see how I initially conceived of the topic that became my master’s thesis. I first...

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pp. xiii-xv

If I had followed the conventions of academic philosophy, this book would not exist.Who would advise a second-year graduate student to revise and expand his master’s thesis and submit it to a university press? My thesis committee—Randall E. Auxier, Kenneth W. Stikkers, and Stephen Tyman—did just that. I thank...

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Introduction: Encountering Josiah Royce’s Ethico-Religious Insight

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pp. 1-6

While this book neither mentions nor examines Josiah Royce’s philosophy of literature and literary criticism, I begin this introduction with an epigram that characterizes Royce’s general philosophical temperament. Royce is a poet-philosopher in the sense of being a philosopher who carefully hones...

Part I . Josiah Royce’s Personalism

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pp. 7

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1. The ‘‘Conception of God’’ Debate: Setting the Stage for Royce’s Personalism

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pp. 9-27

This book advances a thesis that is contrary to the majority opinion in Royce scholarship: I hold that Royce’s late metaphysics of community1 is not an extension of Royce’s epistemological and logical concerns but rather an articulation of a living ethico-religious insight, an insight that serves as the animating force behind his entire philosophy.2 Even Royce’s earliest philosophical...

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2. Haunted by Howison’s Criticism: The Birth of Royce’s Late Philosophy

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pp. 28-50

How did this prolonged debate with Howison motivate Royce to drift away from his earlier apparent absolute idealism? W. H. Werkmeister contends that the 1895 Union debate...

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3. Royce’s Late Philosophy

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pp. 51-66

We are now in a position to see how Royce’s later philosophy addresses Howison’s 1895 criticism of his idealistic metaphysics. Since I will analyze just those elements of Royce’s later writings that seem to address Howison’s criticism directly, I will leave aside, for example, such significant Roycean concepts as atonement, redemption, and reconciliation...

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4. Royce’s Personalism

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pp. 67-81

Is Josiah Royce’s personalism compatible with the Boston personalist tradition? We already know that Royce is unquestionably a personalist because he accepts the central descriptive hypotheses of personalism. These are, according to The Personalist Forum, formerly the official organ of contemporary American personalism: (1) ‘‘it is the personal dimension of our being...

Part II. Extending Royce’s Ethico- Religious Insight: Royce on the Beloved Community, Agape, and Human Temporality

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pp. 83

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5. Royce’s Ethico-Religious Insight: A Hypothetical Postulate?

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pp. 85-95

Until now I have dealt with Royce’s ethico-religious insight as he articulated it from his 1895 ‘‘Conception of God’’ essay through his 1915–16 Extension Course on Ethics. I have presumed that Royce’s philosophic propositions described features of our reality in an unproblematic way. Given Royce’s argumentation and his ethicoreligious insight, I contended that he...

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6. King’s Beloved Community, Royce’s Metaphysics

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pp. 96-109

The philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., can be characterized as a confluence of several amiable theological and philosophical perspectives. Charles R. Johnson, for example, characterizes it as being a ‘‘complex yet ethically coherent philosophy’’—a mixture of Walter Rauschenbusch’s social gospel, Boston personalism, and Mohandas Gandhi’s love-ethic and method...

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7. Coupling Royce’s Temporalism with Levinasian Insights

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pp. 110-130

In this chapter I will address a serious problem with Royce’s ethics and how that problem causes his ethics to be an inadequate mode of expressing his ethico-religious insight. The serious problem with Royce’s ethics is that it neglects the origins of ethical experience. Instead, he conceives of ethics as the rational inquiry...

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Closing Remarks

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pp. 131-135

Let me end this book where I began it. In the Introduction, I announced that this book is an apparent hodgepodge of philosophical topics, methods of argumentation, and exegesis. Then, I offered a concise paragraph describing how the chapters of this book hang together as a single philosophical work. Nonetheless, I did not tell the reader what precisely unifies my inquiries...


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pp. 137-169


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pp. 171-179


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pp. 181-191

American Philosophy Series

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E-ISBN-13: 9780823247288
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823230549
Print-ISBN-10: 0823230546

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Royce, Josiah, 1855-1916.
  • Idealism.
  • Personalism.
  • Ethics.
  • Religion.
  • Metaphysics.
  • Howison, George Holmes, 1834-1917.
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