- "Dear Heart":Homage to Henry Rosemont, Jr., 1934–2017
What can be said about me is simply that I continue my studies without respite and instruct others without growing weary.Analects 7.34
We can read the list of Henry Rosemont's accomplishments—the books and papers he wrote, edited, and translated, and his classes and workshops, conference papers, and seminars. The 2008 collection of essays in his honor, Polishing the Chinese Mirror, edited by Marthe Chandler and Ronnie Littlejohn,1 provides almost two dozen testimonies to the influence and reach of his work. In her introduction, Marthe Chandler emphasizes as well Henry's political activism, quoting the ideal he expressed in 1991, in A Chinese Mirror, of a dream "that can be shared by all peoples, holding their humanity in common."2 Henry worked toward that dream. He was a scholar, teacher, philosopher, and activist. His publications will long outlive him, but he truly lives in the people he touched, the communities he created, his quests for social justice and social change, and the ideas he espoused in conversation with others—these define him. In his preface to Against Individualism (2015), Henry expressed his purpose to advance "the views of the early Confucians on what it is to be a role-bearing person," which he considered "a genuinely viable alternative answer to the question of what it is to be a human being."3 Henry lived as a role-bearer; many of us found in him a role model, an exemplary person (junzi). We learned from him the value of appropriate behavior, of authoritative conduct, of ritual embodied in performance. Confucius said that he would never get to meet a sage (sheng ren) (Analects 7.26); those of us who had the good fortune to know Henry were luckier.
I met Henry Rosemont, along with Roger Ames, when I was a participant during the summer of 1996 in their NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) Institute at St. Mary's College, "Teaching the Chinese Classics in Translation." Henry and Roger were completing the text that appeared the next year as The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation.4 Among the many joys of that workshop was that, as Henry and Roger tried [End Page 1]
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[End Page 2] out their translations with each other, they included us and took our responses seriously: they created of us a community of scholars, and modeled the roles of teacher, scholar, disputant, and friend. At the end of this experience, we were invited to become members of the Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) of the East-West Center at the University of Hawai'i. Launched in 1991 by Roger Ames, Betty Buck, and Peter Hershock, ASDP is one of the many families that Henry helped to foster. The importance of this enterprise is that it enables academics from a variety of disciplines across the humanities and social sciences, and even the sciences—many without prior formal training in philosophy or Asian Studies—to introduce the study of Asia into the curricula of small colleges, universities, and community colleges throughout the United States.
Henry Rosemont was the consummate teacher of philosophy who had the opportunity through his various teaching appointments to train students in their work over the course of several years. He worked collaboratively with other scholars on significant publications. But he also led a number of NEH and ASDP faculty workshops that brought his ideas to an expanded group of teachers eager to bring a global focus to their campuses and to give students an understanding of Eastern traditions and alternate ways of viewing the world. Faculty who participated in these programs then invited Henry back to their campuses for further professional development. The publication of A Reader's Companion to the Confucian Analects5 in 2013 increased the demand for Henry to conduct master classes, to teach teachers how to teach Confucius.
This eulogy presents a few of the voices of friends from some recent tributes to Henry Rosemont. In September 2017 many of Henry's colleagues, students, and neighbors gathered...