Institute for American Thought

Institute for American Thought

Josiah Royce Papers

First-Ever Critical Edition of Josiah Royce Begins at IUPUI

This summer another great American thinker is joining the ranks at the Institute for American Thought (IAT). A critical edition of the works and papers of Josiah Royce (1855-1916) becomes the fifth critical edition at the Institute and the first-ever for this American philosopher.

Royce is in good company at the IAT, a research unit of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts, with academic programs in Documentary Editing and American Studies. Of the five Classic American Philosophers, the critical editions of three are now located at IUPUI: Charles Peirce, George Santayana, and Josiah Royce.  Editions of the works of the final two, William James and John Dewey are completed.

“The Josiah Royce critical edition is digital from start to finish,” said project director and IAT director David Pfeifer. “It is unique both at the IAT and among the other editions on the Classic American Philosophers that have been completed or in progress.” 

Josiah Royce was born in a mining camp in California, attended and taught at the University of California, Berkeley, studied in Germany, received a Ph.D. from the first research doctoral university in the United States-The Johns Hopkins University, and spent the bulk of his career at Harvard University as a colleague to William James and an instructor and colleague of George Santayana.  Royce’s early work is associated with Idealism, but he was influenced greatly by the Pragmatism of William James and Charles Peirce.  The later works of Royce, with a focus on interpretation and community, are now recognized as significant contributions to Pragmatism and the history of philosophy.  A wider knowledge of Royce’s later works led to a re-birth in interest in his thought which led to the desire for a critical edition.

“A critical edition seeks to remain close to the author’s intention while disclosing the principles for deciding what version of the text to publish and any editorial changes made to it,” explained Pfeifer. 

Such editions provide an explanation and documentation of the compositional history of the text and its publication history. An important element is to undo any changes that were made silently by previous publishers without the consent of the author.  When the text is in manuscript form, a list of the author’s substantial alterations is created.  Annotations-sometimes very long-are provided which describe and define uncommon concepts and theories, identify individuals, and supply references for quotations without citations.

Editing will take place at diverse locations, but all materials are posted to an IAT website. The General Editor is Randall Auxier of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.  Text editing will be done by the John Dewey Center at Southern Illinois University.  Editors for the first volume are at Texas A & M University and the University of Massachusetts.  The IAT is the repository for the paper copies of texts and manuscripts and is the computer center for receiving, posting, and hosting all the materials of the edition.  The digital volumes that result will be online, hosted by Indiana University.

The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research and the Office of the Dean of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts generously provided some initial funding to launch the edition.  National Endowment for the Humanities funding and other grant opportunities will be sought for the continued support of the critical edition of Royce’s work.