SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

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Community and Interpretation: Josiah Royce and Epistemologies of Ignorance

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This paper applies resources from the American philosopher Josiah Royce to contemporary investigations of epistemologies of ignorance. Broadly, it suggests that the connection between epistemology and metaphysics has been under-examined by contemporary theorists, and that Royce’s attention to this connection has implications which reach beyond his own context. More specifically, Royce’s metaphysics of community partakes of a robust concept of truth which is useful for reconciling a divide in contemporary discussions. This split is between those who believe that diagnosing ignorance only makes sense if there is an independent objective standard of truth and those who worry that such an objective standard would seem contradictory to the idea that all perspectives are necessarily partial and shaped by one’s material and cultural standpoint. Since Royce’s concept of truth is both evolving and process oriented but not only a product of human cultural and linguistic construction, he offers a means of reconciliation.


Russell J. Duvernoy    
University of Oregon
United States


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