These notes are summaries of important points from some of the Royce selections from John Stuhr's anthology of Classical American Philosophy, first edition, that we used in our Phi 381 class, fall 1999. The notes were created as a handout to facilitate students' review of the materials. Page references are to Stuhr, first edition.

JOSIAH  ROYCE:
  Brief Summary

Religious Problems and the Theory of Being:

- The problems of Being is best approached by starting with the question:
        What is an idea?
- An idea is: - an active response
   - purposive (it is meaningful; it “means to do” something, to reach its object)
   - partially already fulfilled (in the very having of the idea), but not fully
- Diagram, to be explained in class, showing how ideas become more
    determinate as they become more complete:
- An idea has (1) an internal meaning = a purpose (something it means to do)
                   (2) an apparently external meaning = an apparently external object

The Temporal and the Eternal:

- Here are some analogies Royce uses:
  time : action : : eternity : the significance of our actions
time : percepts & concepts : : eternity : interpretation
- We experience time as being: (a) whole (cf. the inclusive “present”);
    (b) serial (cf.the exclusive “present”);
    (c) directional (striving, purposive.)
  -NB: This is true both for our inner experience of time (perceptual time)
    and for our dealings with the apparently “external” world (conceptual time).
- (219) The self is a process of self-re-presentation, a recurrent process.
- The self in its entirety would be the whole, the entire world consciousness or
   world life.
- Although part of this whole seems “beyond” to a finite self, the whole would
   be consciously expressed as  a whole by the Absolute.
- How can this be?  Well, compare our own two-moded experience of
   successions.
- NB: math shows that a well-ordered infinite series, even though it is infinite, can
  form a whole.
- The human self has a two-fold nature:  as a temporal process and as part of an
   eternal system of facts.
- The “goal of life is the whole of life."

The Body and Its Members:
- Summary of what’s needed to have a community:  (1) distinct selves; (2) their
    ideal extensions, by each of them, into the past and future; (3) at least one
    common event.
-  (225) A self is a life that is interpreted and that interprets itself.
- A community is a body that tries to accomplish certain goals, by means of its
    deeds (the individual members’ deeds).
- (226) A community also requires social communication and common some past
    event.
- (228) Also need a common love, or a common consciousness of unity.
- (229) Consciousness of community is difficult in modern industrial life.
- (231) Need love of the community…and identification of self with neighbor.
 - Love is both  and emotion (a longing for a mystical blending) and cooperative
deeds
- (233) The source of loyalty, grace, is the divine, which enables us to "fall in love
    with the universe.”

The Will to Interpret:

- Man [sic] is the interpreting animal.  (And hence lives in communities.)
- Interpretation is a triadic cognitive process.  [It involves one interpreted, one
interpreting, and one receptive to the interpretation.]
- Interpretation is not perception, nor is it conception, nor is it the two of those
    added together.
- This can be seen by analyzing carefully what comparison involves—When, that
   is, comparison is made explicit and complete:

A B
\ /
|
C

A & B are ideas; "leadings" (cf. James).
C is mediation, a meditaing idea, something new.

- (238) What C provides is a “conspectus,” a unity of consciousness. And that
—unity of consciousness—is what is required for dealing with life, significance, reality, etc.  And, furthermore, that is also what James’s version of pragmatism leaves out.
- (240) In spite of what you might initially be thinking, interpretation can be exact.  Peirce’s account of deduction shows us how and why.
- On the other hand, James’s limiting of cognitive processes to perception and conception, does not have any room for a conspectus or unity of consciousness.

Loyalty to Loyalty, Truth and Reality:

- (251) [To employ the concept of truth in any way is to appeal, implicitly,
to a conscious world of experience that is “higher” than our minds, but of
which we are parts.]  (Cf. also p.257)
- (255) One truth transcending the empirical is this:  “Human experience,
as a totality of facts, exists.” Now, (a) who “verifies” this truth?  And (b)
if, as James says, verification means working successfully, then what
does “success” mean here?
- (257) Whenever you say “The facts are what they are; and the real
universe exposes our errors, and makes them errors,” you are appealing
to a “conspectus of experience, in which ours is included.”
 - To deny the reality of the whole truth is to reaffirm it.
 - Any special idea of mine can be wrong, yes—but to say that is a whole
    truth.
- So, truth-seeking = loyalty = seeking the Whole]

Loyalty and Religion:

- (258) Loyalty = the will to manifest the eternal unity of life (which is a conscious and superhuman unity) in the deeds of one’s individual self.
- (259-60) The real world is not independent of us; rather, it is: (a)of the nature of experience, in its content, . . . (b) with a structure that validates our active deeds.
- Furthermore, it is interpretable, in ideas, propositions, and conscious meanings...
- ... and it interprets (connects) our own fragmentary ideas and deeds.
- (260) The life of this conscious whole is the real world. (So the whole both is and knows the real.)
- (261) Error, on my part, is a fact for the world's conscious life. And this is a thesis which cannot be denied without self-contradiction. [After all, to deny a statement is to say that it is in error.]
- (262) How did we arrive at these considerations?  By asking whether or
not "the faith of the loyal" is "a pathetic fallacy."
- Royce here points out that that faith does at least meet both an ethical and a logical need (the logical need being the need to have some reality as referent in relation to which error is error).
- Furthermore, he adds, this faith is also the faith "that religion recognizes."
- (262) Religion is the interpretation of the eternal and of the spirit of loyalty [among us], through emotion and the "fitting use" of imagination.
- Religion has always been an effort to interpret and make use of the superhuman world.
- The difficult thing has been to make religion moral.
- (263) There's no sharp dividing line between the human and the superhuman. [Remember that for Royce, the human is a fragment of the superhuman.]
- (264) "Loyalty unifies your plan of life."
- (264) Any loyalty to a cause is a latent belief in the "superhuman" reality of the cause.
- This must begin (this latent belief) to become explicit when the process of "idealizing" the cause takes place.
- And that process occurs when we [realize that our cause is a"lost cause"--i.e., one which we cannot fully attain in our finite, human lives].
- This recognition that we cannot fully attain our cause leads to grief and imagination; and that tends to lead to religion.
- (265) The "world-life" [the life of the Absolute]... includes and completes our experience.
- (266) Rationally, says Royce, we must assert the truth of this view of the universe that he has argued for, as a general view of the universe--that is, we must assert that the universe is a conscious, personal, and meaningful life.
- However, as for any details, we must acknowledge that those, as they are expressed by one religion or another, are symbolic [and not something we are compelled to assert propositionally].