Chinese Philosophy: Buddhism
Chinese Philosophy: Buddhism In India, Buddhism was a heterodox religious movement against the authority of the Vedas, the Bible of orthodox Hinduism. Gautama Buddha (c. 563–c. 483 BCE) dismissed the extreme ascetic way of life often adopted by Indian religious believers and taught the middle way.
While Hindu philosophers asserted the existence of atman (I, self, ego, or soul) as the innermost essence of a human being and ontologically identified this essence with Brahma, the absolute reality of the universe, the Buddha repudiated the ideas of atman and Brahma, and proclaimed that everything is causally conditioned and nothing is absolute, permanent, and eternal.
For the early, conservative Hinayana Buddhists, the Buddha's denial of ātman implies and even entails the existence of dharmas (divine laws), changing realities of the universe, and impermanent constituents of human beings.
Both conservative and progressive Buddhist teachings had been introduced to China by the first century CE. The Chinese preferred Mahayana and revered Nāgārjuna (c. 163–263) as the father of Mahayana Buddhism.
Nāgārjuna's Madhya-makārikā (Middle way treatise), Dvādaśanikāyaśāstra (Twelve Gate Treatise ), and [[Śataśāstra] (Hundred verse treatise), with the main verses by Āryadeva (third cent.), are devoted to the philosophy of emptiness and have been emphasized by Chinese Sanlun Buddhists.
They questioned the essence and use of truth, knowledge, and logic, and they investigated various logical concepts and constructs such as right and wrong, negation and affirmation, and the meaning of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in rational reasoning and conceptual disputes.
He analyzed motion and pointed out that so-called motion consists of a part that has already passed (yiqu ), a part that has yet to pass (weiqu ), and a part that is passing (qushi ). Change cannot be found in the part already passed, since it is already gone. Nor can it be found in the part yet to pass, since it is not yet.
Nor can it be apprehended in the part that is passing, since passing makes sense if and only if there is an act of passing. But in examining whether there is an act of passing, we cannot use the act of passing to establish an act of passing without begging the question. So motion is impossible.
If it is real, it must happen at some place and time. Does rest occur where something has already past, or where something has yet to pass, or where something is passing? None of these can be established. Therefore there can be no rest, or cessation of motion.
Both Hindu and traditional Buddhist metaphysicians have failed to see the emptiness of words and names. Laozi understood the inadequacy of human language, as can be seen in the opening to his Daodejing, where he wrote, "The way that can be stated is not the real Way;
Sanlun masters critically examined the nature and the structure of conceptual and verbal statements, and argued that the relationship between two basic linguistic units, the subject (kexiang ) and the predicate (xiang ), cannot be rationally well formed, and that predication in our ordinary use of language is really not intelligible.
On the one hand, if two are identical, they are one, and it makes no sense to call one a subject and the other a predicate. Logically, the sentence is then a tautology and does not say anything about the world.
Hence, in this case, predication is doing no real work. On the other hand, if the subject and the predicate differ, predication is again unintelligible, since being (the similarity of subject and predicate) and not being (the difference between subject and predicate) cannot be at the same place at the same time.
Hence it is absurd to unite what is different to form one sentence describing the same thing. Since every logical or conceptual statement consists of a subject and predicate, reality cannot be intelligently described. Therefore, so-called logic is in essence illogical.
For the Sanlun masters, conceptualization, like a fish trap, has no intrinsic value and reality by itself, though it does have a practical use and can be employed to attract unenlightened persons to Buddhism. Yet the true message of the Buddha's teachings can be properly apprehended only if people comprehend the emptiness of words and discard conceptualization.