American Philosophy

Josiah Royce

What were Josiah Royce’s ethical and religious views?

The primary virtue according to Royce was “loyalty to loyalty.” While some people are loyal to bad causes, only good causes could support the loyalty to themselves that constituted loyalty to loyalty. In Royce’s interpretation of Christianity, the Church, sin, and atonement were united by God as Spirit. Royce’s idea of the role of God as Spirit, in community, was perceived as addressing a neglected aspect of the doctrine of the Trinity. (Christian religious history, in emphasizing God and Jesus, had often minimized the Holy Spirit.) Although it should be noted that his emphasis on community is similar to Martin Buber’s (1878–1965) description of how Judaism differs from Christianity.


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