Professor Tu Weiming was born in 1940 in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. (Ancestors’ home in Nanhai, Guangdong Province). He is a preeminent Chinese scholar, a representative figure of contemporary Neo-Confucianism, and a crucial practitioner on the research and transmission of Confucian culture. His broad scope of academic interests, his sympathetic concern towards both empirical and transcendental knowledge, his retrospection and strategic vision of human civilization, made him one of the most insightful and influential thinkers in the world.
For over 50 years, Professor Tu Weiming has devoted himself to the interpretation of Confucian Classics, to the evaluation of Confucianism from a perspective of cultural diversity in the world, and to the revival of Chinese culture by a creative transformation of the ancient tradition. The intellectual activities and academic discourses advocated by him, such as “Cultural China”, “Civilizational Dialogue”, “Reflections on the Enlightenment”, and “the Third Phase of Confucianism”, have rendered profound influence in the international circle of thoughts. Professor Tu Weiming defined that Chinese culture inherently possesses the capacity of assimilation and compatibility with other cultures, and its unique quality resides in “Learning to be Human”. His concept of Cultural China is beyond the confines of nationality and ethnicity, laid the theoretical foundation for the research on Chinese identity and its cultural characters. He himself practiced the teaching of Confucian Learning, pioneered a new direction to interpret Confucian ethics, and developed new ideas of Confucian Philosophy of Mind from the perspectives of epistemology and scientific rationality. The novel dimension of thoughts, “Spiritual Humanism”, is an universal ethic initiated by Professor Tu Weiming, endeavoring to provide metaphysical resources and solutions to various Big Problems in human society and to construct a harmony between body and soul, self and society, human and nature, secularity and divinity, is vitally important for the overall welfare of humanity in the 21st century.
Professor Tu Weiming began his school year in 1945 in Shanghai, China. His family moved to Taiwan in 1949. In 1951, he graduated from primary school and entered Jinaguo Middle School in Taipei, Taiwan. He started reading Confucian Four Classics since he was 15 years old, then he followed and inherited the Neo-Confucian tradition from a group of famous scholars: Mou Zongsan (1909-95), Tang Junyi (1909-78) and Xu Fuguan (1903-82), etc.. He received his BA in 1961, from the Department of Chinese, Tunghai University, Taiwan. Next year, Sponsored by the Harvard-Yenching Institute’s Scholarship, He went to Harvard University, learned from Talcott Parsons, W. C. Smith and Robert N. Bellah, etc., and received his MA in East Asian Studies in 1963 and his PhD in History & East Asian Languages and Civilizations in 1968.
After graduation from Harvard University, Professor Tu Weiming taught at Princeton University (1967-71) and the University of California, Berkeley (1971-81). He became a Harvard Professor in both Chinese History & Philosophy studies and Religious Studies in 1981. Later, he served as the Chairman of Harvard Research Committee of Religious Studies (1984-87), the Chairman of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations (1986-89), and the Director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute (1996-2008). Professor Tu Weiming is currently the Peking University Chair Professor (2010- ), the Founder and Director of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies (IAHS, 2010- ), the Director of World Ethics Center of Peking University (2010- ), and the Chair Professor of Harvard-Yenching Chinese History, Chinese Philosophy, and Confucianism Studies of Harvard University (1999- ). So far, Professor Tu Weiming has supervised over 30 PhD and Post-doctorate students and educated thousands of undergraduates all over the world. As a visiting professor, Tu Weiming taught Chinese intellectual history, Chinese philosophy, and Confucianism at Tunghai University (Taiwan, 1967-68), Beijing Normal University (China, 1980), Peking University (China, 1985), National Taiwan University (Taiwan, 1988), École des Hautes Études in Paris (France, 1989). He also holds honorary professorships from many universities and institutes in China: Renmin University, Zhejiang University, Sun Yat-sen University, Jinan University, Suzhou University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, etc.
Professor Tu Weiming also actively participated in various academic organizations. He is the Director of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University, the Vice Chairman of International Confucian Association, member of China Council of American Academic Research Society, member of American China Studies Institute, advisor of the East Asia Group of Wilson Center in Washington, overseas advisor of Confucian Ethics Group of Singapore Curriculum Development Office, advisor of the Society of Chinese American Social Science Professor, advisor of the Contemporary China Studies Center of the City University of Hong Kong, etc.. Other academic positons Professor Tu Weiming holds include: the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica, Taiwan; the Honorary Chair of the Center for Confucian Entrepreneurs and East Asian Civilizations at Zhejiang University, the Chair of the International Ma Yifu Humanities Center at Zhejiang University, the Chair of the Humanities Committee of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), and an Advisory Professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University. Professor Tu Weiming is on the editorial boards of several academic journals: the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (US), Philosophy East and West (US), Yenching Journal of Chinese Studies (China), Dao (China), Chinese History of Philosophy (China), Humanity Forum (China), Asia Culture (Singapore), the 21st Century (Hong Kong), CUHK Journal of Humanities (Hong Kong), the Contemporary Era (Taiwan), Journal of Humanity (Malaysia), etc..
Professor Tu Weiming is the author of Neo-Confucian Thought in Action: Wang Yangming’s Youth (1976), Centrality and Commonality: An Essay on Confucian Religiousness (1976, rev.1989), Humanity and Self-Cultivation (1979), Confucian Thought: Selfhood as Creative Transformation (1985), Way, Learning, and Politics: Essays on the Confucian Intellectual (1993), Confucianism (2008), the Global Significance of Concrete Humanity: Essays on the Confucian Discourse in Cultural China (2010), Confucianism in the 21st Century (2014), etc.. His five-volume Anthology of Essays were published by Wuhan Press in 2011, eight-volume series of Collected Writings were published by SDX Joint Publishing Company in 2013, and the entire Collected Works began to be published by Peking University Press from 2013.
Professor Tu Weiming has given keynote addresses or plenary session presentations at several world congresses of the humanities and social sciences. He was invited by the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan to join the Group of Eminent People to promote the dialogue among civilizations in 2001. He delivered a speech to the Executive Board of UNESCO about Civilizational Dialogue in 2004. Other meetings he made speeches include the XVIII World Congress of Philosophy (Boston, 1998), the Beijing Forum (Beijing, 2004, 2005), the World Congress of the History of Religion (Tokyo, 2005), the Maimonides Endowed Lecture in the XXII World Congress of Philosophy (Seoul, 2008), the 16th World Congress of Ethnology and Anthropology (Kunming, 2009), the 24th World Congress of the Philosophy of Law (Beijing, 2009), and the 3rd Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (Vienna, 2013), etc..
For his great contributions to humanity, Professor Tu Weiming was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1988- ), an Executive Member of the Federation of International Philosophical Societies (FISP, 2008- ), and a Titular Member of the International Institute of Philosophy (IIP, 2010-, representing China).
He has been awarded honorary degrees from King’s College in London (UK), Lehigh University (US), Grand Valley (Michigan) State University (US), Soka University (Japan), Shandong University (China, the highest honor confirmed by the State Council of the PRC), Tunghai University (Taiwan), Lingnan University (Hong Kong), Macau University (Macau), etc. He is also the recipient of the Grand Prize of International T’oegye Society (Korea, 2001), the second Thomas Berry Award for Ecology and Religion (UN, 2002), Life Achievement Award by the American Humanist Society (US, 2007), the first Confucius Cultural Award (China, 2009), and the first Brilliance of China Award (China, 2013), Global Thinkers Forum “Prominence of Cultural Understanding”（Greece，2013）, China Cultural Figure（Macau，2014）etc.