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Obituary: Professor Lao Sze-Kwang


Professor Lao Sze-Kwang

rn       The Department of Philosophy is deeply saddened by the passing of Professor Lao Sze-Kwang on 21 October 2012, at his home in Taipei, at the age of 85. Professor Lao was Professor Emeritus at the Department of Philosophy, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Doctor of Literature honoris causa of the Chinese University; and Fellow of the Academia Sinica, Taiwan. The Department of Philosophy conveys its sincere condolences to the bereaved family.

rn        Professor Lao is one of the most important and respected philosophers in contemporary cultural China. Coming from a politically and intellectually distinguished family originated from the Hunan province, Professor Lao was named Yung-Wei at his birth in 1927 in Xi’an. He entered the Department of Philosophy, Peking University in 1946. In 1949 he moved to Taiwan and graduated three years later from the Department of Philosophy, Taiwan University. In 1955, he became a lecturer at Chu Hai College, Hong Kong. Professor Lao’s long association with the Chinese University of Hong Kong began in 1964, where he first served as Lecturer at the Department of Religion and Philosophy, Chung Chi College. Later he was appointed Senior Lecturer, Reader, as well as Head of Division of Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy. He formally retired from the Department of Philosophy in 1985, but continued to serve the Chinese University as Senior Research Fellow and Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Senior College Tutor of Shaw College, Visiting Professor and the “Tang Chun-I Visiting Professor” of the Department of Philosophy, Speaker of Distinguished Scholars’ Lecture of Chung Chi College, and Speaker of Ch’ien Mu Lecture in History and Culture of New Asia College.

rn       Professor Lao held visiting professorships at Harvard University, Princeton University, National Tsing Hua University, National Normal University, National Chengchi University and Soochow University, Taiwan. Since 1994 he had been Chair Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Hua Fan University, Taiwan.

rn        Professor Lao’s half-century-long contributions to philosophy and the academia had won him prestigious awards and honours, including the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award from the Phi Tau Phi Scholastic Honour Society (2000); the 46th Annual Academic Award of the Ministry of Education, Republic of China (2002); the Cultural Prize of the Executive Yuan, Taiwan (2002); twice the National-Endowed Chair Professorship of the Ministry of Education, Republic of China (2002 & 2005); and Doctor of Literature honoris causa conferred by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2004).

rn        A prolific writer, Professor Lao authored more than 30 books, including the monumental 3-volume History of Chinese Philosophy; “Lao Sze-Kwang’s Early Writings” series (7 volumes); The Punishment of History, Essentials of Chinese Culture, Essentials of Kant’s Theory of Knowledge (now collected in his “New Compilation of Professor Lao Sze-Kwang’s Academic Works” series, in 13 volumes); Lectures on Philosophy of Culture; Illusion and Hope: On Contemporary Philosophy and Culture; New Reflections on the Future Developments of Chinese Culture; Philosophical Essays; Selected Poems of Lao Sze-kwang; and Disenchantment and Legislation.

rn        Professor Lao is a scholar-philosopher well-known for his methodological vigour, critical and open mind, breadth of vision, clarity of expression, and awareness of his historical responsibility. He has made profound impact on generations of students and contributed to nurturing generations of scholars of the Chinese University and beyond. During the past fifty years, Professor Lao had spared no effort to critically reflect on traditional Chinese culture, to explore China’s political future, and to search for new possibilities of cultural development from a cosmopolitan perspective. Professor Lao committed his life to fulfilling his sense of mission towards human history. His life is a life ceaselessly striving for self-improvement. This is the concrete demonstration of the spiritual achievement of an autonomous subject, an ideal to which Professor Lao had lived up.

        A beloved senior member of the big family of the Department of Philosophy, Professor Lao will be long remembered by faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Department. His immense academic, cultural and social contributions will also be long revered. A memorial ceremony for Professor Lao will be held. Further details will be announced soon.


rnDepartment of Philosophy
The Chinese University of Hong Kong