Harold D. Roth

Harold D. Roth, PhD, is a professor of religious and East Asian studies, codirector of the Alpert Medical School scholarly concentration in contemplative studies, and director of the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University.
His publications include books on classical Taoism, including Original Tao: Inward Training and Foundations of Taoist Mysticism, and dozens of articles on the early history and religious thought of the Taoist tradition, the textual history and textual criticism of classical Chinese works, and contemplative studies.
A specialist in early Chinese religious thought, Taoism, the history of East Asian religions, the comparative study of mysticism, and a pioneer in the developing field of contemplative studies, Roth has developed courses that combine traditional third-person study with critical first-person approaches.
Roth’s articles have been published in many leading academic journals, including the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Early China, Taoist Resources, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, China Review International, Journal of Chinese Religions, and Journal of Chinese Philosophy.
In his book, Original Tao, Roth reveals China’s oldest mystical text—the original expression of Taoist philosophy—and offers commentary on the text. He argues that this ancient text is the foundation of early Taoism and traces the text to the mid-4th century B.C., making it the oldest surviving expressions of a method for mystical “inner cultivation,” which Roth identifies as the basis for all early Taoist texts, including the Tao Te Ching.