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BOOK REVIEWS 283 with their concerns to make the following suggestion: Progress in our quest to discern whether meaning and being do or can coincide may ultimately depend on our ability and willingness to develop believable metaphysical views which speak to our needs (1) to see things as a whole and (2) to answer our questions about the structure of existence in a way that makes life as significant as possible. James and Wild are right in pointing out that such work will be vacuous if it is not tied down to empirical data and especially to insights that phenomenological description has produced. But a man can get swallowed up in details, even if they are the results of phenomenological analysis. He can fail to see the forest for the trees, and in our own times of crisis our greatest need may be to obtain some viable visions of things as a whole which can give us hope and courage and help us to feel that life is worth living. JOhN K. Roan Claremont Metz's College The Basic Writings o[ Josiah Royce, 2 volumes. Edited by John J. McDermott. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969) On one point all students of Royce will, I think, agree: he was long-winded. Even these two volumes--1235 pages in all--are misleadingly titled; they contain some, not the basic writings of Josiah Royce. I say this principally because of the complete omission of The Problem of Christianity, Royce's last, two-volume major work, a modern reinterpretation of Pauline Christianity v~ich may be neither especially Pauline nor especially Christian, but which does present the final and most intriguing of Royce's idealist (with him, almost always read both large and small i) reconstructions: the community of interpretation. The editor's explanation, namely that the same press has published The Problem o[ Christianity as a companion volume, doesn't justify the omission. His title is still misleading; and in view of the prohibitive price of these two volumes, the amount of fat they contain makes it seem most unkind to ask the conscientious reader of Royce to purchase still a third. But let us look at what is, rather than what isn't, here. Professor McDermott's preface begins with reassuring eyewitness testimony that Royce's obscure California birthplace in 1855, Grass Valley, still exists, several earlier reports to the contrary notwithstanding. Somewhat less reassuring is the editor's statement of his threefold intention in republishing all this material: (1) "to illustrate the range and quality of [Royce's] thought (this is largely achieved); (2) "to present.., a thinker who forges a viable relationship between affection for the local experience of community and the demands of a philosophical and scientific vision of the entire human situation" (certainly Royce attempted to forge something like this; whether he actually succeeded is another matter); (3) "to present anew the relevance of Royce's judgment in matters cultural, moral, and religious." (Is McDermott taking that relevance for granted? If he is, he shouldn't.) With an inconsistency remarkable in so short a document, the preface ends by claiming that for Royce "true individualism is possible only insofar as one participates in a series of self-sufficient, complete communities." Royce's "limited communities," "provinces," etc. were presented, and make sense, only as organic components of the Great Community. By themselves they are neither self-sufficient nor complete. In an uneven fifteen-page introductory essay. Professor McDermott captures nicely the flavor of Royce's style, "which combines the approach of a preacher with that of 284 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY an extraordinary intellectual virtuoso"; fails to support (pp. 5-7, 41) the claim that Royce was basically a Puritan; underestimates the influence of German philosophy and ideology on Royce (of. Royce's own comments, p. 34); and offers an interesting revisionistic suggestion: "The key to the majestic and original quality of the theory of "interpretation" in The Problem of Christianity is in the main due neither to an evolution in Royce's metaphysics, nor to the use of the admittedly helpful Peircean theory of signs. Rather, this breakthrough is more directly traceable to Royce's ability at...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 283-286
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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