Josiah Royce's "Flat Absolutism"

Real Individuals Through the Relations Regress


  • Christian Frigerio University of Milan


Monism, Pluralism, Internal Relations, Josiah Royce, Bradley's regress, Flat ontology, Pragmatism, Object-oriented ontology, Graham Harman, Manuel Delanda, Speculative realism


Josiah Royce is remembered mainly as an absolute idealist. Through his confrontation with “Bradley’s regress”, this paper will show that he was actually trying to combine a bold form of monism with a pluralism of real, discrete individuals. His commitment to the actual infinite is used both to turn Bradley’s regress into the generative mechanism of individuality within the Absolute, and to abolish the ontological difference between the Absolute itself and the individuals it contains. The “flat absolutism” resulting from this operation will be compared to the contemporary “flat ontologies” of Manuel DeLanda and Graham Harman, whose pluralism and commitment to “external” relations are shown to be just some of the ways in which a robust sense of individuality can be defended.


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How to Cite

Frigerio, C. (2022). Josiah Royce’s "Flat Absolutism": Real Individuals Through the Relations Regress. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 18(2), 228–250. Retrieved from