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by Josiah Royce

A unique and honored figure in American intellectual history, Josiah Royce stands out as a master of many disciplines who made significant contributions to mathematical logic, psychology, social ethics, literary criticism, and history as well as metaphysics. These thirteen lectures elucidate his early philosophical idealism and explore the historical framework of his doctrine.Spanning three centuries of the speculative concerns of philosophy, Royce discusses the theories of Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and other important thinkers. A lucid and readable text, this volume provides students and other readers with scholarly views of the important developments in modern philosophy from the 1600s to the dawn of the twentieth century.
Download The Spirit of Modern Philosophy: An Essay in the Form of Lectures epub
ISBN: 0486244326
ISBN13: 978-0486244327
Category: Politics
Subcategory: Philosophy
Author: Josiah Royce
Language: English
Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (May 20, 2015)
Pages: 544 pages
ePUB size: 1125 kb
FB2 size: 1365 kb
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 121
Other Formats: doc rtf lrf docx

All text is garbled. Not a single page is readable. I was a fool to trust Kindle editions. (This text is free on Google Books, by the way, although I didn't know it when I bought this.) Purchasing this is tantamount to making a dollar donation to Amazon and getting nothing in return. I know it's only a dollar, but what irritates me is how multi-million Amazon feels free to offer garbage on their site.
The Kindle version of this book is completely garbled and unreadable.
I am sorry to disagree with the other reviewers here. I found this book simply unreadable. Royce writes in the florid style typical of his time (think Bulwer-Lytton), and in his treatment of the philosophers mentions mostly his own reaction to them so that I could simply not hack through all the verbiage to get to what the philosophers actually said. It baffles me how anyone could rate this 5 stars. Variety is the spice of life, I guess. Look elsewhere for clearer, more terse exposition.
Please check the printing of this ebook. It is completely impossible to read I would appreciate a refund
unless this book can be printed in a legible form. The download is as if it were printed in a foreign language
with no correlation to the English language.
Wm J Bullock
I bought this book for my kindle. It was delivered only in my tablet, not to my kindle. The worst part is that the text comes in symbols that do not correspond to the English language, The book is completely illegible.
Josiah Royce (1855 -- 1916)is a philosopher from the "golden age" of American philosophy, which also includes William James, Charles Peirce, and John Dewey. These four thinkers mutually influenced one another. Royce has been the least-known of the four due to the idealistic character of much of his work. I have been reading and learning from Royce for several years. In anticipation of the upcoming 100th anniversary of Royce's death, I decided to read this early book of Royce's, "The Spirit of Modern Philosophy: An Essay in the Form of Lectures", published in 1892. I also wanted to read this book for Royce's consideration of Spinoza, a philosopher he discusses at some length in the volume.

The book originated as a series of lectures Royce gave over several years in different places to non-specialist audiences. Royce aimed to describe in a non-technical way the nature and origins of different important strands of philosophical thinking. The book is written for the mythical "general reader" in Royce's day and our own. It is a delight to read, in a late 19th century style, with many telling anecdotes of the author and of the philosophers he discusses, and extensive and effective use of literary and musical allusions. The book still is daunting to read and an important work in its own right. "Modern" philosophy, for Royce in 1892 was the philosophy between Kant and Schopenhauer, extending to the theory of evolution and its philosophical treatment which was then only beginning. Thus, the book does not treat the rise of "modern" analytic philosophy in the works of, say Russell and Moore including, specifically, their critiques of idealism. Royce would gain some familiarity with these works late in his life. This early book also does not reflect the influence the different pragmatisms of Royce's friends, James and Peirce, would soon exert on Royce.

The book is both an admittedly selective history of modern philosophy and a development of a philosophical position. Royce at the outset states his commitment to the position of philosophical idealism; and he presents his history and his own philosophical views from that perspective. He writes:

"What I am really pleading for, as you will see in the sequel, is a form of philosophic reflection that leads to a very definite and positive theory of the universe itself, the theory, namely, which I have just suggested, a theory not at all mystical in its methods, nor yet, in its results, really opposed to the postulates of science, or to the deeper meaning at the heart of common sense. This theory is that the whole universe, including the physical world, also, is essentially one live thing, a mind, one great Spirit, infinitely wealthier in his experiences than we are, but for that very reason to be comprehended by us only in terms of our own wealthiest experience."

The book is in two large parts. In the first part, "Studies of Thinkers and Problems", Royce examines the history of modern philosophy. In the second part, "Suggestions of Doctrine", Royce uses what he takes to be the best lessons of the philosophical history to develop his own position. Royce tries to be a synthesizer. His goal is to show the harmony between science and the theory of evolution on the one hand and a spiritual, religious view of life on the other hand. Royce was certainly not the last philosopher to be worried about this relationship and to attempt a harmonization.

There are many wonderful insights in this book. For me, the most penetrating discussions occur in Royce's "General Introduction" and in his opening chapter on Spinoza. In the introduction, Royce offers his views on the nature and importance of philosophical, critical and reflective thinking. He stresses at the outset the importance of temperament. He stresses that no single philosophical system will win the adherence of all persons and that systems change with time although some basic contours remain constant. Royce thus is aware of the value of difference and seeming conflict in different philosophies, including both idealism and naturalism. He is fully aware as well of the importance of passion and the search for meaning in philosophy and in life -- this in contrast to many critics of Royce from his own day forward. The opening introduction is worth pondering and re-reading as one works through the rest of the book.

I was intrigued that Royce begins his historical study with Spinoza rather than with Descartes, as is almost universally done. Royce states that the emphasis of the cogito in Descartes obscures the naturalistic character of the first period of modern philosophy, including Descartes himself. Royce finds this naturalistic strand, with it combined religious form best expressed in the philosophy of Spinoza. In his short treatment, Royce offers an insightful portrait of Spinoza and a non-technical description of his thought which considers both its scientific and its mystical aspects. Royce tends to be more interested in religion. He sees Spinoza as attempting his own form of union with God or nature rather than as seeing religion as a source of divine commands or challenges. Royce also points out how in his doctrine of "substance", Spinoza saw reality under two aspects, body and mind. As I read through the book, I thought Spinoza's own double aspect theory had many similarities, and perhaps some advantages over, the "double-aspect" theory of philosophical idealism that Royce himself develops in the second part of his work.

Royce proceeds to consider the British empiricists, followed by a lengthy discussion of Kant and his German idealistic successors, Fichte, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. Royce's expositions of these difficult thinkers are clear and informative and they are enhanced by his brief biographical observations. The period between Kant and Hegel was not much studied in American philosophy departments when I was in college. The exposition of these thinkers, Hegel in particular, taught me a great deal. The discussion of Hegel still could be read as an introduction to his aims and his thinking.

In the second part of the book, Royce, deeply influenced by Kant, argues for a form of philosophical idealism that avoids the romantic excesses of Kant's successors. As mentioned above, he argues for a form of objective idealism in which every person and thing is part of an all-inclusive world soul or logos. He draws a distinction between what he calls the world of description and the world of appreciation -- the former the world of science, the latter the world of spirits each part of the world-spirit. This discussion will not be persuasive to most contemporary readers. As Royce suggests in the introduction to the book, it is more important to understand what Royce was trying to do and why than to agree with the specific idealistic formulation of the book. It offers many insights. The book brought me back to Spinoza's formulation of issues and the way it agrees with and differs from Royce. Other readers will find other possible approaches to the questions. In the final chapter of the book, Royce addresses the religious problem of evil in the context of his idealism. This is a question Royce would explore several times during his career.

Royce and this book are not often studied today but there has been some recent resurgence of interest in the great American idealist thinker. The book is worth reading for its history, for its issues, and as an introduction to Royce. Although Royce wrote the book for a non-specialist audience, the book today will appeal more to readers with a strong background and interest in philosophy who are willing to explore a now somewhat obscure and undervalued American thinker. I was fortunate to read this book in a hardback edition published in 1955 and thus can't comment on the quality of the Kindle reproduction.

Robin Friedman
Josiah Royce (1855 -- 1916) was a California-born American philosopher who taught at Harvard as a friend and colleague of William James. He is an idealist philosopher which helps to explain the neglect his writings have suffered until recently. I have been reading Royce for some years and recently returned to read his 1892 book, "The Spirit of Modern Philosophy: An Essay in the Form of Lectures" because I will be speaking about the book at an upcoming conference. I wanted to write a brief review here on Amazon based on the rereading. I have written an earlier Amazon review.

"The Spirit of Modern Philosophy" (Spirit) was Royce's second book of philosophy, following his book,"The Religious Aspect of Philosophy" (1885) by seven years. Royce had delivered a well-received series of lectures to non-specialists on the nature of philosophy and its history and expanded his lectures into the Spirit. Royce did several important things in the book. Most importantly, he stressed that philosophy was not a mere dry academic subject for specialist but was instead a reflective discipline which individuals of all backgrounds could use to deepen their understanding of their lives and of what they found important. Next, Royce stressed the importance of thinking about philosophy historically -- understanding what the great philosophers have thought and said -- to reflection of philosophical matters. Finally, Royce developed the outline of his own idealistic philosophy.

The book is substantially expanded from its origins in lectures. The work remains accessible to lay readers even though it is often surprisingly detailed. The book is written in a hortatory late-Victorian style with many literary, historical, and musical allusions. It is inspiring and a pleasure to read though long-winded in places. Royce was never one to be stingy in his use of words.

The book consists of an important Preface followed by thirteen essays in two broad parts. In the Preface and first lecture, Royce explains his conception of philosophy, a matter to which he returns repeatedly in the remainder of the book. Part I of the book, "Studies of Thinkers and Problems" offers an overview of the history of modern philosophy beginning, surprisingly enough, with Spinoza rather than Descartes. Royce's exposition is unusual in the focus he gives to biographical information in addition to the explanation of philosophical teachings. The focus on the book is on Kant and on his German absolute idealist successors, including Hegel, Schopenhauer, Fichte, and Schelling. Royce is heavily influenced by all these thinkers as well as by Spinoza. The historical section of the book concludes with a discussion of the theory of evolution and with the need Royce saw to synthesize evolution and science with the spiritual life.

In Part II of the book, "Suggestions of Doctrine" Royce develops his own philosophical position. He argues that the position of naïve realism
is internally inconsistent and develops instead, based on a purportedly logical argument, a philosophy of absolute idealism, centering on the existence of what Royce calls at various places the all-inclusive Absolute, the Deep Self, or the Logos. But the most interesting part of the discussion is distinction Royce develops between appreciation and description. He argues that the descriptive world of scientific necessity and of everyday life is based on a broader appreciative world of feeling and subjectivity. He finds the descriptive/scientific outlook is part of a broader appreciative outlook based on logos and feeling. Scientific teachings do not conflict with spirituality because these teachings form a particular part of the spiritual life. In the final section of his book, Royce discusses how an idealistic philosophy can bring meaning and purpose to life, and he considers and assesses different approaches to the problem of evil that need to be addressed by all idealistic or theological philosophies.

Most readers will remain unconvinced by Royce's Absolute and by some of the longer wanderings in the book. There still is much to be learned from the Spirit, and I have found that the work bears repeated readings. Royce's broad conception of philosophy and the manner in which he explains the personal and historical bases of different philosophies remains insightful, as do his historical studies. The distinction between appreciative and descriptive approaches to reality also seems to me mirrored, in approach if not in name, to much current writing. It offers promise of a holistic, unifying view of life independent from the form of Absolute Idealism in which Royce himself propounded it.

Royce's philosophy may have moved in a different direction in the early 20th Century in the years following the Spirit. This book is still rewarding and worth knowing by lovers of philosophy.

Robin Friedman