Josiah Royce was the leading idealistic philosopher in the United States during the period of the development of American pragmatism. Born in Grass Valley, California, he was educated in San Francisco and at the University of California. After his graduation in 1873, he studied in Germany for a year at Heidelberg, Leipzig, and Gottingen. He then returned to the United States and took a doctorate at Johns Hopkins University. He taught English composition at the University of California and in 1882 was invited to Harvard University to "fill in" for William James (see also Vols. 3 and 5). He was appointed to an assistant professorship at Harvard in 1885 and remained there for the rest of his career. Influenced by Hegel (see also Vol. 3), Royce developed his own philosophy of absolute or objective idealism, in which it is necessary to assume that there is an "absolute experience to which all facts are known and for which all facts are subject to universal law." He published his major works from 1885 onward, including his Gifford Lectures, The World and the Individual (1900--01). Along with James, Royce had a great influence on the advanced students who were to become the next generation of American philosophers.
Royce's work provided the conceptual starting place for the Cultural Pluralism movement of the 1920s and 1930s, and his notion of the Beloved Community influenced the work and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement.
Communities, whether they are understood as racial or geographic, religious or scientific, Royce argued, are formed by the commitments of individuals to causes or shared ideals. This starting point-the philosophy of loyalty-provides a means to understand the nature of communities, their conflicts, and their potential for growth and coexistence.
Just as this work had relevance in the twentieth century in the face of anti-Black and anti-immigrant prejudice, Royce's philosophy of loyalty and conception of community has new relevance in the twenty-first century. This new edition of Royce's Race Questions, Provincialism, and Other American Questions includes a new introduction to Royce's philosophy of loyalty and the essays included in the volume, and a second introduction connecting Royce's work with contemporary discussions of race.
The volume also includes six supplementary essays by Royce (unavailable since their initial publication before 1916) that provide background for the original essays, raise questions about his views, and show the potential of those views to inform other discussions about religious pluralism, the philosophy of science, the role of history, and the future of the American community.