In 1908, American philosopher Josiah Royce foresaw the future. Race questions and prejudices, he said, "promise to become, in the near future, still more important than they have ever been before." Like his student W. E. B. Du Bois in Souls of Black Folk (1903), Royce recognized that the problem of the next century would be, as Du Bois put it, "the problem of the color line." The twentieth century saw vast changes in race relations, but even after the election of the first African-American U.S. president, questions of race and the nature of community persist. Though left out of the mainstream of academic philosophy, Royce's conception of community nevertheless influenced generations of leaders who sought to end racial, religious, and national prejudice.
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.
About the Author
JOSIAH ROYCE (1855–1916) is one of the central figures in American Philosophy. Fordham has reissued the two-volume edition of his Basic Writings, edited by John J. McDermott.
Scott L. Pratt is professor of philosophy at the University of Oregon. Pratt is author of two books, Logic: Inquiry, Argument and Order (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) and Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy (Indiana University Press, 2002) and co-author of American Philosophy from Wounded Knee to 9/11 (Continuum, forthcoming). He has also co-edited four volumes, including American Philosophies: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2002) and Royce’s Race Questions, Provincialism and Other American Problems, Expanded Edition (Fordham University Press, 2009). He has published articles on the philosophy of pluralism, Dewey’s theory of inquiry, Josiah Royce’s logic, and on the intersection of American philosophy and the philosophies of indigenous North American peoples. He is a past president and Fellow of the Josiah Royce Society.
SHANNON SULLIVAN is Professor of Philosophy, Women’s Studies, and African and African American Studies at Penn State University.