Historical Background

Historical Background

Fu Jen Catholic University was established in three stages: the founding, the development and the re-founding. It began with two prominent laymen, Mr. Ma Hsiang-po and Mr. Ying Lien-chih, who, with the vision of educating the whole human person in mind, sought authorization from Rome and founded the Fu Jen Academy near Beijing. Unfortunately, the Academy came to an early end in 1918 because of financial difficulties. However, the seed was not sewn in vain, the Academy would soon revive.

The second stage is one of development. It began when Vatican took the initiative to investigate the possibility of re-establishing the Academy and sent Dr. George Barry O'Toole, a priest scholar from the United States of America to Beijing to examine the situation and to take the necessary steps for its re-establishment. In August 1922, Pope Pius XI sent Bishop Celso Constantine as the accredited representative to head the project. October 10th 1925 saw the opening of the first academic year with 23 enrollments. In November of the same year, the Ministry of Education of the Chinese Government granted official accreditation to the re-born Academy. In July 1929, the Academy celebrated its first graduation and at the same time, it was authorized to use the official name of Fu Jen University. 

The early history of Fu Jen coincided with the times of upheaval for the young Republic of China, but in spite of all the troubles, Fu Jen made a name for itself through the effort of both the faculty members and the students. The University was ready for a wider scale of administration, planning, and development. In 1933, the Divine Word Missionaries took over the management. In 1938, when the University first accepted woman students, the Religious of the Servants of the Holy Spirit were invited to join force. From then on, the University continued its steady pace of development until 1949 when China turned red.

The third stage of development began in 1961 when Cardinal Paul Yu Pin was requested to prepare for the re-founding of Fu Jen University in Taipei, Taiwan. Soon after this, he was named the President of the University. Fully aware of the mission of Catholic Universities conferred by the Church, in September 1961, the University officially began with eight enrollments in the Graduate School of Philosophy. Two years later, in 1963, the undergraduate Department of Philosophy, together with nine other departments, was established. In 1978, Cardinal Yu Pin resigned and the Archbishop Stanislaus Lokuang succeeded him. During the 14 years of his leadership, Fu Jen developed into a fully integrated university. In 1992, Mgr. Gabriel Ly succeeded Archbishop Lokuang as President. In 1996, when Mgr. Ly finished his term, Professor Yang Tuen-ho took over the leadership. When Professor Yang's term was up in February 2000, Professor Lee Ning-yuang became President. In 2004, the Professor of Philosophy Dept., LI CHIEN CHIU (BERNARD) succeed as President.

Spirit of the University

Once Fu Jen Catholic University was re-founded in Taiwan, its basic philosophy of education was re-enforced. As a Catholic University, the spreading of the Gospel message is its primary task. In a non-Christian context, some adaptation has to be made to meet the need of the country where it is. It takes the form stated in its motto, "Fu Jen Catholic University is an academic community of students and teachers closely associated in fostering the growth of the whole person, on the basis of Truth, Goodness, Beauty and Holiness." Further specification concerning the education of the whole person is also enumerated: the recognition of the basic human dignities, expressed in the area of a correct understanding of freedom, human happiness, professional ethics and the formation of the spirit of service. But the most important of all is to foster dialogues and exchange between peoples, cultures and religions.

Department of Philosophy

At the early stage of its development, members of the clergy who received an integral philosophical training in Catholic Universities or Pontifical Universities from abroad made up the majority of the teaching staff. They laid down a solid foundation of a philosophical education based on the principles of Scholastic Philosophy. This is what distinguishes the philosophy taught in Fu Jen from what is taught at other universities in Taiwan. In 1992, for the purpose of putting into practice and further promoting Scholastic Philosophy, the Institute of Scholastic Philosophy was established and in June 2000, it obtained its official status and is recognized as a research center alongside of the Philosophy Department.

1. Present Situation and Curriculum.
There are about 50 professors more or less involved in the teaching of Scholastic Philosophy, in the Department itself or in other departments because all students in Fu Jen are required to take 8 credits related to philosophy. The Department itself is made up of about 600 undergraduates, 150 of whom are night school students, about 80 graduates students, 40 of them follow the MA Degree program and 40 are Ph. D candidates. As the aim of the Philosophy Department is to train the mind of the students according to the basic principles of Scholastic Philosophy, the curriculum is organized accordingly.

a). Fundamental courses in the first and second academic years, such as Logic, Introduction to Philosophy, Epistemology, Philosophy of Nature , Metaphysics, History of Philosophy, and in the third and fourth years, Philosophy of Religion, Ethics, Philosophical Anthropology, are all based on the principles of Scholastic Philosophy.

b). Optional courses are grouped into three areas: Western Philosophy, Chinese Philosophy and Practical Philosophy. In the area of Western Philosophy, courses such as the Studies of Plato, Aristotle, Rationalism, British Empiricism, German Idealism, Contemporary Philosophy, Analytic Philosophy, etc. are offered to the students. In the field of Chinese Philosophy, there are for instance, courses on Confucian Philosophy, Taoist Philosophy, the Philosophy of Mo Tzu, and other major systems of Chinese thought. Each student is required to take at least 24 credits among each group before graduation. As regards Scholastic Philosophy, there are: 1) courses reflecting on its historical development, such as Patristic Philosophy, Scholastic Philosophy and Neo-Scholastic Philosophy; 2) the study of the different systems of thought, such as: Thomistic Metaphysics, Thomistic Epistemology, Thomistic Ethics; 3) these are elective courses.

c). The Graduate Department continues in the same direction, but courses are offered to students with increase in depth and specialization.

2. Other Projects
a). Besides the regular scholastic work, the Department assumes the task of editing (1) the philosophical review Universitas; (2) an eight-volume Encyclopedia of Philosophy in Chinese, three of which have already been published. The fourth one is on the way. (3) A philosophical dictionary has also been published.

b). In the early l980's, when China adopted the Glasnot policy, great demand was made on philosophical knowledge. Chinese intellectuals took a special interest in Mediaeval Christian Philosophy. For this reason, cross-strait conferences, exchanges of scholars, sponsored by the Department have taken place. From 1990 onward, 15 leading universities on Mainland China have an interchange program with the Department. In June 1994, the Department officially signed an exchange contract with the Philosophy Department of the People's University of Beijing, the Party's University. In October of the same year, two professors from the Department went to teach in Beijing, and in May 1995, two from the People's University came over to Fu Jen. The Philosophy Departments of other major universities in China soon followed suite. Up till now, over 80 philosophy professors have been invited to attend academic conferences organized by the Department, to give lectures in the Department, or to do research work.

c.) The program continues to develop and assistance is also extended to the Church of China. At first, two professors from the faculty help the teaching of philosophy in the Major Seminary in Shanghai. Gradually more joined force and last year, five or six took part in this work. Besides the regular lecturing assistance, some professors of the Department are preparing a two-and-a-half-year radio program of philosophy to be broadcast through "Radio Veritas" in Manila, the Philippines. Meanwhile, the exchange program will continue to operate so that the Gospel spirit may spread to Mainland China through philosophy.

d.) Ten years ago, the Studium S. Pius X of Tainan, composed of a group of elderly priests and headed by Fr. Joseph Chou, undertook the task of translating the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas into Chinese. Faculty members of the Philosophy Department took part in the proof reading process. According to the original plan, the Chinese version of the Summa will be published in about two years. Once this important contribution appears, it will certainly have a deep repercussion on the Chinese philosophical world. This is an important asset for spreading not only Scholastic Philosophy but also Aquinas' thought.


1. To continue Western mediaeval Philosophical tradition as well as Chinese Philosophical Supplemented by important philosophical of different periods so as to give students an integral philosophical education and help them make rational and critical self-reflection.
2. The Department has the longest history in Taiwan, and has a complete program for Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. degrees. 

Educational Purposes

1. Students have an understanding of the spirt and ideal of Western Philosophy and an open philosophical view.
2. The “carry on” of the spirit of Chinese philosophy with the expectation that the students will cultivate the correct values in the present situation of a globalized world.
3. The Department Intends to form the whole person of the student, able to reflect rationality, to respect diversity, and to care for others. 


The philosophical curriculum in the Department is considered to be one of the most complete and soundest in Taiwan. Moreover, it was the first to offer a Ph.D. program. When the Department was first founded, only four other universities had philosophy Departments. For quite some time, Fu Jen University was the only one with a doctorate program. Students from other universities came to Fu Jen for further philosophical studies; hence, Fu Jen graduates were active in the philosophical studies in almost all the universities over Taiwan. Fourteen of them have been the chairpersons of the departments of philosophy in other universities, and two of them are still in office. Even in the field of Chinese Philosophy, those who are formed by the Department are engaged in the critical reflection and interpretation of Chinese Philosophy from a theistic point of view. The influence expands as the Department widens its horizon to include Mainland China in its vision.

Future Projects and Conclusion

Future Projects
1. The Department is working at present on a plan of cooperation with the Institute of Scholastic Philosophy for the formation of philosophical taff of Mainland China and of Southeast Asia, especially those countries that have been under Communist control, and extends a helping hand to them.

2. The Department is now organizing the "Lokuang Chair of Philosophy and Culture." Renowned scholars from the Catholic University of Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve), Gregorian University, and Innsbruck University are invited to give short-term intensive lectures. It is hoped that these lectures can help consolidating the fundamental courses in traditional Scholastic Philosophy and fostering dialogues between Scholasticism and other schools of thought.

3. The Department also intends to form young experts in Scholastic Philosophy, Christian Philosophy and Mediaeval Philosophy by offering scholarships through the Institute of Scholastic Philosophy.

It is our sincere hope that in the future, more fruitful dialogues between Chinese Philosophy, Scholastic and Christian Philosophy will see the day. For this reason, our present task will be the consolidation and deepening of our knowledge in these areas. As Asia will play a prominent role in the third millenium, we hope also that Christian and theistic philosophy should become an important inspiration of the intellectual life of Asia, and that Christian Philosophy can answer the spiritual needs of contemporary Asia. 

Department Emblem






I have used blue for the logo as blue symbolizes wisdom; I intended to keep the design simple due to the re-production process. It is ideal to incorporate the twelve stars, which appeared in the university logo this is done to reinforce the importance of the department of Philosophy in Fu Jen. The cross represents university believe-Catholic.
Cecilia Tuan