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Professor Wing-tsit Chan (陈荣捷)(August 18, 1901 - August 12, 1994) was one of the world's leading scholars of Chinese philosophy and religion, active in the United States.

Chan was born to a peasant family in rural Kaiping (开平), in the Toisan (Taishan, 台山) area of southern China. In 1916 he enrolled at Lingnan University (嶺南大學) near Canton. After graduating with a bachelor's degree from Lingnan, he began his graduate studies at Harvard University in 1924. There he studied with Irving Babbitt, William Ernest Hocking, and Alfred North Whitehead, and was advised by James Haughton Woods, an eminent Sanskritist and translator of the Yoga Sutra. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy 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 from 1942 to 1966. He was Professor Emeritus 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.[1]

Chan was the author of A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, one of the most influential sources in the field of Asian studies, 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, Classical Confucian texts, Ou-Yang Hsiu, and Wang Yang-Ming in the Macropedia of the Encyclopedia Britannica (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 (1973), edited by Arnold J. Toynbee. [1] He had received numerous academic honors and was a member of the Academia Sinica.

Chan died in Pittsburgh 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).


  • A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton University Press, 1963). ISBN 0-691-01964-9
  • (with Wm. Theodore de Bary and Burton Watson) 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 (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 (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 (Thames and Hudson, London, 1973), edited by Arnold J. Toynbee.
  • (ed., with Charles Moors) The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT. 1976)


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