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I had two reasons for reading Josiah Royce's little-known book, "The Hope of the Great Community". First, the book is of historical interest in the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of WW I. Second, the book shows Royce's understanding of the Great War. Josiah Royce (1855 -- 1916) was a famous American philosopher who has enjoyed a small revival in recent years. He taught a form of absolute idealism, a philosophy which has few adherents today and was a colleague and friend of the pragmatist philosopher William James. I have been studying Royce for some time and wanted to read this book for its own sake and for thinking about WW I.
During most of his career, Royce carefully avoided political involvement. He counseled other intellectuals to do the same and to avoid preaching about matters beyond their expertise. With the outbreak of WW I, Royce found he needed to take a stand. Some of the results of Royce's thinking about WW I are included in this book of six essays which his wife published after his death.
Of the six essays in the book, five deal directly with WW I. The final essay is, for Royce, a rare autobiographical sketch which also touches upon the War. The autobiographical essay is valuable, but I will not further discuss it here. The five other essays can be divided into two groups. Three of the essays discuss Royce's response to the war and his view of what the United States should do. Two of the essays present Royce's thoughts on possible ways of limiting warfare upon the eventual conclusion of the Great War. Royce died in 1916, before the United States entered the War and before its conclusion.
The first group of essays deal with "The Duties of Americans in the Present War" and with "The Destruction of the Lusitania".Read more ›
This collection of lectures constitutes the last publication of Josiah Royce, California's preeminent philosopher at the turn of the 20th century. Unlike his early, more theoretical works, these lectures address the sinking of the Lusitania, the Great War, an international scheme insuring against future wars, as well as the title essay: "The Hope of the Great Community". This latter lecture returns to themes on the importance of community and the cause of loyalty that had preoccupied Royce during his last decade. Here Royce stresses the crucial difference between a mere association of individuals engaged in a common purpose and a true community bound together from a common cause or love or loyalty, after the fashion, for example, of Pauline Christianity. Colleagues are no substitute for the personal salvation that comes from sharing a common loyalty to a greater cause than self-interest can provide.
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