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World Humanities and Self-Reflection of Humanity: A Confucian-Neo-Confucian Perspective


  • Acknowledgments: The early version of this article was a keynote speech presented at Symposium of “Is There, Can There Be, such an Activity as World Humanities?” at Simon Fraser University during January 27–28, 2012. A later draft also was presented at the International Society for Chinese Philosophy (ISCP) Session of the Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, April 16, 2012. My warm thanks go to Professor Ian Angus and the Symposium for their kind invitation. I appreciate Professor Mark L. McPherran and Professor Deanna Reder for their inspiring responses. I thank Lauren Pfister for working thoroughly on the revision, and Tim Connolly and Linyu Gu for their proofreading and editing.

CHUNG-YING CHENG, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Chinese Philosophy; Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Visiting Zhiyuan Chair Professor, College of Humanities and Arts, Shanghai Jiaotong University. Specialties: Confucianism/Neo-Confucianism, hermeneutics/onto-hermeneutics, metaphysics. E-mail:


This article presents and develops Zhu Xi's Neo-Confucian theory of heart-mind-will and human nature as the source and basis for the understanding of humanity. This article next shows how Kant and Confucius could be said to share the same vision of humanity in light of one particular historical connection between them. Finally, I have explored four forms of knowledge in light of a distinction between feeling and observation as well as their basic unity. This gives rise to our vision of humanity as world-rooted, and so indicates further how it can serve as a grounding for world-humanities.