Josiah Royce
Josiah Royce

What’s in a Name?

Royce Hall is named for the American philosopher Josiah Royce, born in 1855 in Grass Valley, CA, primarily described as an objective idealist.

He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1875, studied in Germany with Hermann Lotze and was the first of four people to earn a doctorate (in philosophy) from Johns Hopkins University, where he eventually taught. He went on to teach at Harvard University from 1882-1916. Royce taught many different subjects such as English composition, forensics, psychology and philosophy.

Though he never attended or taught at UCLA, Royce was revered by many in the academic sphere during his lifetime and stands out among academics of his time as the only major American who spent a significant period of his life studying and writing history, specifically of the American West.

In early adulthood Royce dabbled in a range of interests--he wrote a novel, investigated paranormal phenomena (as a skeptic), and published a significant body of literary criticism. But he distinguished himself as a historian and a philosopher. In a passionately written history of California published in 1886, Royce questioned the moral consequences of the American conquest of Mexican California.

Royce’s philosophical ideals traversed religion, social metaphysics, moral philosophy, realism and what came to be known as “personalism.” He is also largely considered to be founder of the Harvard school of logic, Boolean algebra, and foundation of mathematics. His logic, philosophy of logic, and philosophy of mathematics were influenced by Charles Peirce and Alfred Bray Kempe.