Senior Member Antonio S. Cua Passes Away

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Obituary of Antonio S. Cua

Antonio S. Cua, a professor emeritus of philosophy of the Catholic University of America, an eminent scholar in Chinese philosophy and Comparative philosophy, and the author of many important scholarly works and the chief editor of Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy, passed away on March 27, 2007. It is a great lost not only for his family and his friends, but also for the entire community of scholars in Chinese philosophy and Asian Studies, all deeply saddened by this sorrowful event.

Antonio Cua was born on July 23, 1932, in a Filipino Chinese family doing commercial business in Manila, Philippines. As a young man with a thoughtful mind rooted in Chinese culture with openness to the West, he started early to have a noble intellectual curiosity and made up his mind to pursue an intellectual life focusing on the core values of philosophies East and West. In order to understand better western culture and thought, after having his B.A. in philosophy and psychology from the Far Eastern University, Manila, in 1952, he came to the United States for graduate education in1953. He had his M.A. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1954, before he married with Shoke-Hwee Khaw on June 11, 1956. He has his Ph.D. degree from University of California, Berkeley, in 1958. Antonio Cua and Shoke-Hwee Khaw have one daughter, Athene Khaw, married to Greg Walsh.

Antonio Cua taught at Ohio University, Athens, first as instructor from 1958 to 1961, then as assistant professor of philosophy from 1961to 1962. Then he served as professor of philosophy and chairman of department at the State University of New York, College at Oswego, from 1962 to 1969. From 1969 to 1995, he served as professor of philosophy in the School of Philosophy, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, before he retired and became professor emeritus from 1996 until he passed away in March 2007.

Antonio Cua was an inspiring teacher, a great scholar and an eminent philosopher, and most importantly, a junzi in Confucian sense. His main intellectual interest had been in western moral philosophy, moral psychology and Chinese ethics, in particular Confucian ethics. His first work was Reason and Virtue: A Study in the Ethics of Richard Price(1966, revised 1998), in which he studied Richard Price(1723-1791), a first intuitionist and major British Moralist in the 18th Century. Then, in his second book, Dimensions of Moral Creativity(1978), Antonio Cua devoted his effort to constructing a map of the different aspects of moral experience with an emphasis on moral creativity, cumulating. This is the most favored book of his own, serving as the basis to most of his works in the past two and half decades. In the book, he focused on the role of paradigmatic individual as concrete embodiment of moral principles and ideals.

Antonio Cua took his another book, The Unity of Knowledge and Action(1982), as more personal because it was written under great inspiration in six weeks, somehow like the enlightenment that the philosopher studied in this book, Wang Yangming(1742-1529) himself had experienced. For Antonio Cua, from the academic standpoint, his Ethical Argumentation(1985) is most satisfying because of it’s being the first attempt to develop a Confucian theory of ethical argumentation and moral epistemology.

Antonio Cua was the chief editor of the Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy, the first of its kind, which contains 187 long entries on major schools, thinkers, works and concepts in Chinese Philosophy. This is now the most comprehensive and useful scholarly reference book with exact information and original interpretation of Chinese philosophy and its history. Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy has been selected by the CHOICE as an outstanding academic title published in 2003. This encyclopedia was praised by many reviews as a milestone,
an ?poque making event in the history of Chinese philosophy in the English-speaking world, full of philosophical erudition and inspiring wisdom. In his Moral Vision and Tradition, Essays in Chinese Ethics(1998), Cua offered a comprehensive philosophical study of Confucian ethics, its basic insights and its relevance to contemporary western moral philosophy. Here the readers may find an analytical, critical and systematic presentation of Confucian ethics with its cardinal concepts and virtues, featuring intriguingly the vital essence of Confucian virtue ethics. His  contribution makes it possible for a creative interpretation of both Chinese and western traditions in view of a fruitful dialogue and in-depth solution of intercultural conflict. His last work, Human Nature, Ritual and History: Studies in Xunzi and Chinese Philosophy(2005), contains many treatises in depth of most interesting themes like human nature, reason and principle, moral  failure,…etc, showing his mastery and authority in the Studies on Xunzi(310-220BCE), one of the greatest Confucian in ancient China. In particular, Antonio Cua had developed there a theory of the ritual that includes ethical, aesthetical and religious dimensions of li(rites, rules or proper conduct). In short, the entire intellectual life of Antonio Cua consists, in his own words, in working for an “important contribution to the advancement and development of Chinese moral philosophy and comparative philosophy and western philosophy.

Because of his scholarly achievement, Antonio Cua had received many awards and honors, such as State University of New York research awards, 1966 and 1967; Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowship, 1982; Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange Research/Lecture Grant; American Council of Learned Societies Travel Grant, 1982; Council on Philosophical Studies, 1967. Also, he had served as President of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy from 1978 to 1980; President of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy from 1984 to 1985. He was member of International Society for Chinese Philosophy (member of board of directors, 1978-81, president, 1984-85), American Philosophical Association, Mind Association, Aristotelian Society, Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (president, 1978-80), Association for Asian Studies (president, 1978-79), Washington Philosophy Club (member of executive board, 1976-77), International Society for Comparative Studies of Chinese and Western Philosophy (advisor, 2001-2007).

The love and friendship of Antonio Cua will be always cherished by his family and friends, and the wisdom contained in his works will continue to inspire generations of scholars and students to come.

In order to pay tribute to this inspiring teacher, great scholar and eminent philosopher, the Journal of Chinese Philosophy will dedicate a special issue in memory of him. Also, Philosophy East and West will present a special feature with photo of Antonio Cua. The International Society for Chinese Philosophy will organize a special session in memory of Antonio Cua both in its international conference organized in late June, 2007, in Wuhan University, China, and the APA Eastern annual conference to take place in Baltimore in late December 2007. (Prepared by Vincent Shen, ISCP executive director)

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