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Wing-tsit Chan

Wing-tsit Chan

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Professor Wing-tsit Chan (陈荣捷) (Traditional Chinese : 陳榮捷) (August 18, 1901 - August 12, 1994) was one of the world's leading scholars of Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 philosophy and religion, active in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Chan was born to a peasant family in rural Kaiping
Kaiping
Kaiping : Hoi3 Pen6) or Hoi Ping is a county-level city in Guangdong Province, southern China. It has a population of 680,000 as of 2003 and an area of 1,659 km². The locals speak a variation of the Taishan dialect.-Administration:...

 (开平), in the Toisan (Taishan
Taishan
Taishan is a coastal county-level city in Guangdong Province, China. The city is part of the Greater Taishan Region....

, 台山) area of southern China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. In 1916 he enrolled at Lingnan University
Lingnan University (Guangzhou)
Lingnan University in Canton, Kwangtung Province, China , was a private university established by a group of American missionaries in 1888. At its founding it was named Canton Christian College .It was incorporated into Chung Shan University in 1953...

 (嶺南大學) near Canton
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

. After graduating with a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 from Lingnan, he began his graduate studies at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 in 1924. There he studied with Irving Babbitt
Irving Babbitt
Irving Babbitt was an American academic and literary critic, noted for his founding role in a movement that became known as the New Humanism, a significant influence on literary discussion and conservative thought in the period between 1910 to 1930...

, William Ernest Hocking
William Ernest Hocking
William Ernest Hocking was an American idealist philosopher at Harvard University. He continued the work of his philosophical teacher Josiah Royce in revising idealism to integrate and fit into empiricism, naturalism and pragmatism...

, and Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education...

, and was advised by James Haughton Woods, an eminent Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

ist and translator of the Yoga Sutra. He received his Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in Philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and Chinese Culture in 1929.

On his return to China in 1929, Chan received an appointment at Lingnan, which in 1927 had been reconstituted as Lingnan University, and served as its Dean of the Faculty from 1929 to 1936. In 1935 the University of Hawai'i offered him a visiting appointment. In 1937 he moved to Honolulu and taught there until 1942. He then taught at Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. The institution comprises a liberal arts college, Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business, as well as 19 graduate programs in the arts and sciences...

 from 1942 to 1966. He was Professor Emeritus
Emeritus
Emeritus is a post-positive adjective that is used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita is also sometimes used.-History:...

  of Chinese Philosophy and Culture at Dartmouth College, and, from 1966 to 1982, Anna R.D. Gillespie Professor of Philosophy at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. Regionally, it anchors the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley, and nationally, it is the 22nd-largest urban area in the United States...

.

Chan was the author of A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, one of the most influential sources in the field of Asian studies
Asian studies
Asian studies, a term used usually in the United States for Oriental studies and is concerned with the Asian peoples, their cultures, languages, history and politics...

, and of hundreds of books and articles in both English and Chinese on Chinese philosophy and religion. He was a leading translator of Chinese philosophical texts into English in the 20th century. He was also the author of articles on Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy is philosophy written in the Chinese tradition of thought. The majority of traditional Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States era, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and...

, Classical Confucian texts, Ou-Yang Hsiu, and Wang Yang-Ming in the Macropedia of the Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

 (15th edition, 1977 imprint). He expressed particular satisfaction over his chapter, The path to wisdom: Chinese philosophy and religion, in the book, Half the world: The history and culture of China and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

(1973), edited by Arnold J. Toynbee
Arnold J. Toynbee
Arnold Joseph Toynbee CH was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934–1961, was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global...

. He had received numerous academic honors and was a member of the Academia Sinica
Academia Sinica
The Academia Sinica , headquartered in the Nangang District of Taipei, is the national academy of Taiwan. It supports research activities in a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from mathematical and physical sciences, to life sciences, and to humanities and social sciences.Academia Sinica has...

.

Chan died in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. Regionally, it anchors the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley, and nationally, it is the 22nd-largest urban area in the United States...

 on August 12, 1994.

The W.T. Chan Fellowships Program were established in his memory by the Lingnan Foundation in 2000 and are awarded annually to students of Lingnan University (Hong Kong) and Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou).

Selected works

  • A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton University Press, 1963). ISBN 0-691-01964-9
  • (with Wm. Theodore de Bary
    Wm. Theodore de Bary
    William Theodore de Bary is an East Asian studies expert at Columbia University, with the title John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University and Provost Emeritus....

     and Burton Watson
    Burton Watson
    Burton Watson is an accomplished translator of Chinese and Japanese literature and poetry. He has received awards including the Gold Medal Award of the Translation Center at Columbia University in 1979, the PEN Translation Prize in 1981 for his translation with Hiroaki Sato of From the Country of...

    ) Sources of Chinese Tradition (Columbia University Press, 1960)
  • An Outline and an Annotated Bibliography of Chinese Philosophy (Yale University Far Eastern Publications, 1969)
  • Reflections on Things at Hand: The Neo-Confucian anthology compiled by Chu Hsi and Lü Tsu-Ch'ien
    Lu Jiuyuan
    thumb|200px|Lu JiuyuanLu Jiuyuan was a Chinese scholar and philosopher who founded the school of the universal mind, the second most influential Neo-Confucian school...

    (Columbia University Press, 1967)
  • Instructions for Practical Living and Other Neo-Confucian Writings by Wang Yang-Ming (Columbia University Press, 1963)
  • Religious Trends in Modern China (Columbia University Press, 1953)
  • Chinese philosophy, 1949-63
  • The Way of Lao Tzu (Bobbs-Merrill, 1963)
  • (with Ariane Rump) Commentary on the Lao Tzu by Wang Pi
    Wang Bi
    Wang Bi , style name Fusi , was a Chinese neotaoist philosopher.-Biography:Wang Bi's most important works are commentaries on Laozi's Dao De Jing and the I Ching. The text of the Dao De Jing that appeared with his commentary was widely considered as the best copy of this work until the discovery of...

    (University of Hawaii, 1979)
  • The path to wisdom: Chinese Philosophy and religion, a chapter in Half the world: The history and culture of China and Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

    (Thames and Hudson, London, 1973), edited by Arnold J. Toynbee
    Arnold J. Toynbee
    Arnold Joseph Toynbee CH was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934–1961, was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global...

    .
  • (ed., with Charles Moors) The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy
    Buddhist philosophy
    Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

    (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT. 1976)

Honors

  • Association for Asian Studies
    Association for Asian Studies
    The Association for Asian Studies is a U.S. society focused on facilitating contact and information exchange among scholars of Asian fields. It is the self-proclaimed largest society of its kind. The Association consists of eminent Asianists, and is a non-profit organization...

     (AAS), 1992 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies

External links