On-cho Ng

On-cho Ng

Professor of History, Asian Studies and Philosophy
102 Old Botany Building

Curriculum Vitae

On-Cho Ng


BA, University of Hong Kong, 1975
MPhil, University of Hong Kong, 1981
PhD, University of Hawaii, 1986


I specialize in the intellectual history of late imperial China. With abiding interests in Confucianism as a dynamic and multifaceted tradition, my work is situated at the intersection of various fields: history, philosophy and religious studies. Apart from Cheng-Zhu Confucianism in the Early Qing: Li Guangdi and Qing Learning (2001), and Mirroring the Past: The Writing and Use of History in Imperial China (2005), I have edited several volumes, and published dozens of book chapters and articles in a variety of academic periodicals, including Journal of the History of IdeasJournal of Chinese ReligionsPhilosophy East and WestJournal of Chinese Philosophy and Journal of World History. I am completing two books. The first is tentatively entitled, “Qing Thought as a Period Concept: Intellectual Trends in Late Imperial China.” I just published a 15,000-word essay, “Qing Philosophy,” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019):1-55 (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qing-philosophy/), which is a blueprint of the book. The other book is on the jinwen (New Script) classical commentaries in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century China. While the work is primarily an investigation of the distinct hermeneutical disciplines and philosophical concerns of a Confucian exegetical tradition, it also explores the interpretive possibilities opened up by contemporary Western theories of reading.

Here at Penn State, I serve as Head of the Asian Studies Department. I also work with various academic publishers and organizations in multiple editorial and administrative capacities. I am co-editor of the book series on ‘History of Chinese Thought,’ National University of Taiwan Press. I serve as Associate Editor and Book Review Editor with the Journal of Chinese Philosophy, and sit on the editorial board of Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy.  I am vice-president of the International Association for Yijing Studies (Beijing), and a member of the Steering Committee the ‘Confucian Tradition Group’ of the American Academy of Religion. For almost two decades, I have been chairing and co-chairing the University Seminar on Neo-Confucian Studies at Columbia University.

Recent Publications:

The Theory and Practice of Zen Buddhism. Coedited with Charles Prebish. Dordrecht: Springer Publishing, 2022.

“Zhang Xucheng: Thought and Legacy.” In History: Theory and Method. London: Bloomsbury, 2022.

“Interlocution on the Imperative of Understanding: Gadamer’s Philosophical Hermeneutics and Cheng’s Onto-Hermeneutics.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy. 48.4(December 2021):357–367.

“Representing the Cosmos and Transforming the Human: The Onto-hermeneutic visions of Chung-ying Cheng’s The Primary Way: Philosophy of Yijing.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy. 48.2(June 2021):185–199. 

“Slote’s Moral Sentimentalism and Confucian Qing-ism: A Negotiation in Intercultural Hermeneutics.” In Yong Huang, ed., Slote Encountering Chinese Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury, 2020. Pp. 155-177.

“Onto-generative Hermeneutics: Chung-ying Cheng’s Systematic Philosophy.” In David Elstein, ed., Dao Companion to Contemporary Chinese Philosophy. Dordrecht and New York: Springer Publishing, 2020. Pp. 323-344.

“Zhu Xi’s Hermeneutics.” In Huang Yong, ed., Dao Companion to Zhu Xi’s Philosophy. Dordrecht and New York: Springer Publishing, 2020. Pp. 47-70.

“Poetry, Literature, Textual Study, and Hermeneutics.” In Philip J. Ivanhoe, ed. Zhu Xi: Selected Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. Pp. 70-89.

“Qing Philosophy.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019):1-55.

“Confucian Exegesis, Hermeneutic Theory, and Comparative Thought.” In Ming Dong Gu. ed. Why Traditional Chinese Philosophy Still Matters: The Relevance of Ancient Wisdom for the Global Age. New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp.118-132.

“Representations of Kongzi as the ‘Uncrowned King’ (suwang) in some Qing Exegeses.” In Paul Golding, ed., A concise Companion to Confucius. London & Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017. Pp. 286-304.

“Thinking Across Cultures: Western Hermeneutics and Chinese Exegesis.” In Bruce B. Janz, ed., Place, Space and Hermeneutics. Dordrecht and New York: Springer Publishing, 2017. Pp. 519-531.

Awards and Services:

Co-editor of book series, ‘History of Chinese Thought,’ National University of Taiwan Press (2009 - present)
Associate Editor and Book Review Editor of the Journal of Chinese Philosophy (2001 - present)
Visiting Fellow, Research Centre for Chinese Philosophy and Culture, Chinese University of Hong Kong (2006)
Visiting Professor, City University of Hong Kong (2005)

Recent Courses:

HIST 580 - Pre-Modern China

HIST 585 – Culture and Society in Late Imperial China

RLST - Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Religions

HIST 175 - Modern East Asia

Research Interests:

Intellectual history of Late Imperial China, from sixteenth to early nineteenth century; Confucian and comparative hermeneutics; Confucian religiosity; Chinese historiography