About this topic
Summary Chinese Buddhist philosophy primarily results from traditional Chinese Buddhist thinkers’ efforts to inherit, reinterpret, and develop theories and thoughts in various Chinese translations of Indian Mahayana scriptures and treatises. Five Chinese Buddhist schools or traditions are of philosophical significance: the Three-Treatise school, the Consciousness-Only school, the Tiantai school, the Huayan school, and Chinese Zen (Chan) Buddhism. Among them, the Three-Treatise and Consciousness-Only schools are the Chinese descendants of, respectively, Indian Madhyamaka and Yogācāra; however, both have all but disappeared after the Tang dynasty (618−907). The other three schools, Tiantai, Huayan, and Zen/Chan, are indigenous and can be seen as philosophically the most representative traditions of Chinese Buddhism. Considerably owing to the influence of Chinese thought and culture, Chinese Buddhist way of thinking is fundamentally nondualistic in character, emphasizing, more than Indian Mahayana does, the mutual sameness and interpenetration of the ultimate and the conventional. The thinking tends to be somewhat nondiscursive, involving holistic views expressed in paradoxical language, with particular concern on the practical. Meanwhile, Tathāgatagarbha thought receives much attention among Chinese Buddhist thinkers, and the widespread conviction is that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature and can attain Buddhahood.
Key works Refer to the subcategories.
Introductions Lai 2008 discusses the history of Chinese Buddhist thought up to the Tang dynasty. Inada 1997 comments on the Chinese reception of Buddhism. Liu 1985 and Liu 1989 elucidate the notion of Buddha-nature in Chinese Buddhism.
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The Three-Treatise School of Chinese Buddhism
  1. Time and Emptiness in the Chao-Lun.Michael Berman - 1997 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 24 (1):43-58.
  2. Signs of Liberation?—A Semiotic Approach to Wisdom in Chinese Madhyamika Buddhism.Brian Bocking & Youxuan Wang - 2006 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (3):375–392.
  3. A Study of R. H. Robinson's Early Mādhyamika in India and China.G. Chatalian - 1970 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 1 (4):311-340.
  4. Empty Logic: Madhyamika Buddhism From Chinese Sources.Hsueh-Li Cheng - 1984 - Philosophical Library.
    In this book Prof. Cheng deals with its principle doctrines, its philosophy and its influence on.
  5. Causality as Soteriology: An Analysis of the Central Philosophy of Buddhism.Hsüeh-Li Cheng - 1982 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 9 (4):423-440.
  6. Chi-Tsang's Treatment of Metaphysical Issues.Hsueh-Li Cheng - 1981 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 8 (3):371-389.
  7. Motion and Rest in the Middle Treatise.Hsueh-Li Cheng - 1980 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 7 (3):229-244.
  8. Nāgārjuna, Kant and Wittgenstein: The San–Lun Mādhyamika Exposition of Emptiness.Hsueh–Li Cheng - 1981 - Religious Studies 17 (1):67 - 85.
  9. Nirvana is Nameless.Chang Chung-Yuan - 1974 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 1 (3‐4):247-274.
  10. Time, Temporality, and the Characteristic Marks of the Conditioned: Sarvāstivāda and Madhyamaka Buddhist Interpretations.Bart Dessein - 2011 - Asian Philosophy 21 (4):341 - 360.
    According to the Buddhist concept of ?dependent origination? (prat?tyasamutp?da), discrete factors come into existence because of a combination of causes (hetu) and conditions (pratyaya). Such discrete factors, further, are combinations of five aggregates (pañ caskandha) that, themselves, are subject to constant change. Discrete factors, therefore, lack a self-nature (?tman). The passing through time of discrete factors is characterized by the ?characteristic marks of the conditioned?: birth (utp?da), change in continuance (sthityanyath?tva), and passing away (vyaya); or, alternatively: birth (j?ti), duration (sthiti), (...)
  11. Sengzhao.Jeffrey Dippmann - 2004 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  12. Self-Reflection in the Sanlun Tradition: Madhyamika as the "Deconstructive Conscience" of Buddhism.Alan Fox - 1992 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 19 (1):1-24.
  13. Book Review of Hsueh-Li Cheng's Empty Logic: Madhyamike Buddhism From Chinese Sources. [REVIEW]Alan Fox - 1986 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 13 (3):361-364.
  14. Skepticism, Ordinary Language and Zen Buddhism.Dick Garner - 1977 - Philosophy East and West 27 (2):165-181.
    The goal of tranquility through non-Assertion, Advocated by sextus empiricus, Is examined and his method criticized. His understanding of non-Assertion is compared with that of seng-Chao (383-414) and chi-Tsang (549-623). Zen buddhism shares the quest for tranquility, But offers more than sextus did to help us attain it, And avoids the excessively metaphysical thought of these two chinese buddhists. Wittgenstein, Whose goal was that philosophical problems completely disappear, And austin, Who rejected many standard western dichotomies, Offer a method superior to (...)
  15. The Nonduality of Motion and Rest: Sengzhao on the Change of Things.Chien-Hsing Ho - forthcoming - Springer.
    In his essay “Things Do Not Move,” Sengzhao (374?−414 CE), a prominent Chinese Buddhist philosopher, argues for the thesis that the myriad things do not move in time. This view is counter-intuitive and seems to run counter to the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine of emptiness. In this book chapter, I assess Sengzhao’s arguments for his thesis, elucidate his stance on the change/nonchange of things, and discuss related problems. I argue that although Sengzhao is keen on showing the plausibility of the thesis, (...)
  16. Resolving the Ineffability Paradox.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2015 - Bloomsbury Academic.
    A number of contemporary philosophers think that the unqualified statement “X is unspeakable” faces the danger of self-referential absurdity: if this statement is true, it must simultaneously be false, given that X is speakable by the predicate word “unspeakable.” This predicament is in this chapter formulated as an argument that I term the “ineffability paradox.” After examining the Buddhist semantic theory of apoha (exclusion) and an apoha solution to the issue, I resort to a few Chinese Buddhist and Hindu philosophical (...)
  17. Emptiness as Subject-Object Unity: Sengzhao on the Way Things Truly Are.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2014 - Routledge.
    Sengzhao (374?−414 CE), a leading Chinese Mādhyamika philosopher, holds that the myriad things are empty, and that they are, at bottom, the same as emptiness qua the way things truly are. In this paper, I distinguish the level of the myriad things from that of the way things truly are and call them, respectively, the ontic and the ontological levels. For Sengzhao, the myriad things at the ontic level are indeterminate and empty, and he equates the way things truly are (...)
  18. The Way of Nonacquisition: Jizang's Philosophy of Ontic Indeterminacy.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2014 - Hamburg University Press.
    For Jizang (549−623), a prominent philosophical exponent of Chinese Madhyamaka, all things are empty of determinate form or nature. Given anything X, no linguistic item can truly and conclusively be applied to X in the sense of positing a determinate form or nature therein. This philosophy of ontic indeterminacy is connected closely with his notion of the Way (dao), which seems to indicate a kind of ineffable principle of reality. However, Jizang also equates the Way with nonacquisition as a conscious (...)
  19. Ontic Indeterminacy and Paradoxical Language: A Philosophical Analysis of Sengzhao's Linguistic Thought.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2013 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (4):505-522.
    For Sengzhao 僧肇 (374−414 CE), a leading Sanlun 三論 philosopher of Chinese Buddhism, things in the world are ontologically indeterminate in that they are devoid of any determinate form or nature. In his view, we should understand and use words provisionally, so that they are not taken to connote the determinacy of their referents. To echo the notion of ontic indeterminacy and indicate the provisionality of language, his main work, the Zhaolun 肇論, abounds in paradoxical expressions. In this essay, I (...)
  20. One Name, Infinite Meanings: Jizang's Thought on Meaning and Reference.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2012 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (3):436-452.
    Jizang sets forth a hermeneutical theory of “one name, infinite meanings” that proposes four types of interpretation of word meaning to the effect that a nominal word X means X, non-X, the negation of X, and all things whatsoever. In this article, I offer an analysis of the theory, with a view to elucidating Jizang's thought on meaning and reference and considering its contemporary significance. The theory, I argue, may best be viewed as an expedient means for telling us how (...)
  21. The Nonduality of Speech and Silence: A Comparative Analysis of Jizang’s Thought on Language and Beyond.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2012 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (1):1-19.
    Jizang (549−623 CE), the key philosophical exponent of the Sanlun tradition of Chinese Buddhism, based his philosophy considerably on his reading of the works of Nāgārjuna (c.150−250 CE), the founder of the Indian Madhyamaka school. However, although Jizang sought to follow Nāgārjuna closely, there are salient features in his thought on language that are notably absent from Nāgārjuna’s works. In this paper, I present a philosophical analysis of Jizang’s views of the relationship between speech and silence and compare them with (...)
  22. The Finger Pointing Toward the Moon: A Philosophical Analysis of the Chinese Buddhist Thought of Reference.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2008 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (1):159-177.
    In this essay I attempt a philosophical analysis of the Chinese Buddhist thought of linguistic reference to shed light on how the Buddhist understands the way language refers to an ineffable reality. For this purpose, the essay proceeds in two directions: an enquiry into the linguistic thoughts of Sengzhao (374-414 CE) and Jizang (549-623 CE), two leading Chinese Madhyamika thinkers, and an analysis of the Buddhist simile of a moon-pointing finger. The two approaches respectively constitute the horizontal and vertical axes (...)
  23. The First Systematizations of Buddhist Thought in China.Leon Hurvitz - 1975 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 2 (4):361-388.
  24. On the Paradoxical Method of the Chinese Mādhyamika: Seng-Chao and the Chao-Lun Treatise.Shohei Ichimura - 1992 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 19 (1):51-71.
  25. Ambivalence of Illusion:A Chinese Buddhist Perspective.Hans-Rudolf Kantor - 2011 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38 (2):274-292.
  26. 'Right Words Are Like the Reverse'—The Daoist Rhetoric and the Linguistic Strategy in Early Chinese Buddhism.Hans-Rudolf Kantor - 2010 - Asian Philosophy 20 (3):283-307.
    ?Right words are like the reverse? is the concluding remark of chap. 78 in the Daoist classic Daodejing. Quoted in treatises composed by Seng Zhao (374?414), it designates the linguistic strategy used to unfold the Buddhist Madhyamaka meaning of ?emptiness? and ?ultimate truth?. In his treatise Things Do not Move, Seng Zhao demonstrates that ?motion and stillness? are not really contradictory, performing the deconstructive meaning of Buddhist ?emptiness? via the corresponding linguistic strategy. Though the topic of the discussion and the (...)
  27. Chi-Tsang's "Sheng-Man Pao-K'u:" The True Dharma Doctrine and the Bodhisattva Ideal.Aaron K. Koseki - 1984 - Philosophy East and West 34 (1):67-83.
  28. The Concept of Practice in San-Lun Thought: Chi-Tsang and the "Concurrent Insight" of the Two Truths.Aaron K. Koseki - 1981 - Philosophy East and West 31 (4):449-466.
  29. Once More on the Two Truths: What Does Chi–Tsang Mean by the Two Truths as ‘Yüeh–Chiao’?Whalen W. Lai - 1983 - Religious Studies 19 (4):505 - 521.
    The teaching of the Buddha concerning Reality has recourse to Two Truths: the Mundane and the Highest Truth. Without knowing the distinction between the two, one does not know the profound point of the teachings. The Highest Truth cannot be taught apart from the Mundane, but without understanding the former, one does not apprehend nirvāna.
  30. Further Developments of the Two Truths Theory in China: The "Ch'eng-Shih-Lun" Tradition and Chou Yung's "San-Tsung-Lun".Whalen W. Lai - 1980 - Philosophy East and West 30 (2):139-161.
  31. Sinitic Understanding of the Two Truths Theory in the Liang Dynasty (502-557): Ontological Gnosticism in the Thoughts of Prince Chao-Ming. [REVIEW]Whalen W. Lai - 1978 - Philosophy East and West 28 (3):339-351.
  32. Brian Bocking and Youxuan Wang.Signs Of Liberation, A. Semiotic, Approach to Wisdom In Chinese & Madhyamika Buddhism - 2006 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (3-4):375.
  33. Chao Lun: The Treatises of Seng-Chao.Walter Liebenthal - 1968 - Hong Kong University Press.
    This book is an English translation of Sengzhao's Zhaolun.
  34. Madhyamaka Thought in China.Ming-Wood Liu - 1994 - E.J. Brill.
  35. A Chinese Madhyamaka Theory of Truth: The Case of Chi-Tsang.Ming-Wood Liu - 1993 - Philosophy East and West 43 (4):649-673.
  36. Seng-Chao and the Mādhyamka Way of Refutation.Ming-Wood Liu - 1987 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 14 (1):97-110.
  37. The Yogācārā and Mādhyamika Interpretations of the Buddha-Nature Concept in Chinese Buddhism.Ming-Wood Liu - 1985 - Philosophy East and West 35 (2):171-193.
  38. Nagarjuna and Chi-Tsang on the Value of "This World": A Reply to Kuang-Ming Wu's Critique of Indian and Chinese Madhyamika Buddhism.Robert Magliola - 2004 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 31 (4):505–516.
  39. Emptiness, Being and Non-Being: Sengzhao's Reinterpretation of the Laozi and Zhuangzi in a Buddhist Context.Tan Mingran - 2008 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 7 (2):195-209.
  40. Nāgārhuna's Philosophy as Presented in the Mahā-Prajñāpāramitā-Sāstra.Siddha Nāgārhuna - 1966 - Rutland, Vt., Published for the Harvard-Yenching Institute [by] C. E. Tuttle Co..
  41. The “Dual Citizenship” of Emptiness: A Reading of the Bu Zhenkong Lun.Galia Patt-Shamir - 2011 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38 (3):474-490.
  42. Early Madhyamika in India and China.Richard H. Robinson - 1967 - Motilal Banarsidass.
    This book gives a descriptive analysis of specific Madhyamika texts. It compares the ideology of Kumarajiva (a translator of the four Madhyamika treatises 400 A.D.) with the ideologies of the three Chinese contemporaries - HuiYuan, Seng-Jui and Seng-Chao. It envisages an intercultural transmission of religious and philosophical ideas from India to China.
  43. Mysticism and Logic in Seng-Chao's Thought.Richard H. Robinson - 1958 - Philosophy East and West 8 (3/4):99-120.
  44. Chao Lun the Treatises of Seng-Chao. A Translation with Introd., Notes and Appendices by W. Liebenthal.Walter Seng-Chao & Liebenthal - 1968 - Hongkong University Press.
  45. The Two Truths Controversy in China and Chih-I's Threefold Truth Concept.Paul Loren Swanson - 1985 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
    The meaning of the two truths--the worldly or mundane truth samvrtisatya , and the real or supreme truth -- was a hotly debated topic among Chinese Buddhists in the 5th and 6th century a.d. From the time of Kumarajiva this issue was discussed in terms of yu and wu . Usually yu was iden- tified with samvrtisatya and wu with paramarthasatya, leading to the mistaken conclusion that the two truths represent two separate realities. The ambiguous meaning of these terms also (...)
  46. Response to Robert Magliola's Review Article on My View of Madhyamika Buddhism.Kuang-Ming Wu - 2006 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (2):299-301.
  47. Derrida and Seng-Zhao: Linguistic and Philosophical Deconstructions.Cai Zongqi - 1993 - Philosophy East and West 43 (3):389 - 404.
The Consciousness-Only School of Chinese Buddhism
  1. From Buddha's Speech to Buddha's Essence: Philosophical Discussions of Buddha-Vacana in India and China.Eunsu Cho - 2004 - Asian Philosophy 14 (3):255 – 276.
    This is a comparative study of the discourses on the nature of sacred language found in Indian Abhidharma texts and those written by 7th century Chinese Buddhist scholars who, unlike the Indian Buddhists, questioned 'the essence of the Buddha's teaching'. This issue labeled fo-chiao t'i lun, the theory of 'the essence of the Buddha's teaching', was one of the topics on which Chinese Yogācāra scholars have shown a keen interest and served as the inspiration for extensive intellectual dialogues in their (...)
  2. Philosophy of Mind in Sixth-Century China: Paramārtha's "Evolution of Consciousness"Philosophy of Mind in Sixth-Century China: Paramartha's "Evolution of Consciousness".Bernard Faure & Diana Y. Paul - 1985 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 105 (4):758.
  3. Buddhist Idealism.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2017 - In Tyron Goldschmidt & Kenneth Pearce (eds.), Idealism: New Essays in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 178-199.
    This article surveys some of the most influential Buddhist arguments in defense of idealism. It begins by clarifying the central theses under dispute and rationally reconstructs arguments from four major Buddhist figures in defense of some or all of these theses. It engages arguments from Vasubandhu’s Viṃśikā and Triṃśikā; Dignāga’s matching-failure argument in the Ālambanaparīkṣā; the sahopalambhaniyama inference developed by Dharmakīrti; and Xuanzang’s weird but clever logical argument that intrigued philosophers in China and Japan. It aims to clarify what is (...)
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