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China did not escape the diversity of Buddhist Madhyamika philosophical schools; many scholars have argued convincingly that Chinese thinkers did not realize for decades that the Buddhist texts coming from India represented different schools of thought and so they tried unsuccessfully to harmonize them into a single philosophical system. Gradually, Chinese thinkers created some distinctively Chinese approaches to and versions of the Buddhist schools and even began some schools that were indigenous to China.

Tiantai flourished under its fourth patriarch, Zhiyi, who asserted that the Lotus Sutra Fahua jing contained the supreme teaching of Buddhism. The school derives its name from the Tiantai mountain that served as its base. The most distinctive ontological claim of Tiantai is that there is only one reality that is both the phenomenal existence of everyday experience and nirvana itself.

This is a significant divergence from many early Buddhist teachings in India that drew a sharp demarcation between the phenomenal world and the world of nirvana. In Tiantai, there is not only one reality but also it is ultimately empty. The reason all things are empty is that literally every object and real thing that is, every dharma exists as it is through an indefinite number of interdependent causes.

Nothing has its own nature or essence that underlies or exists apart from the interplay of all these causes. Accordingly, all things have only tentative existence, and they are impermanent. Humans experience phenomenal reality as various forms of pain and suffering, happiness and contentment, and may also realize overwhelming enlightenment and peace. In fact, Tiantai writings describe ten ways of existing in reality, but these do not reflect any interest in the kinds of extrapolations offered in the other Chinese ontologies, such as dao, yin and yang, or the elaborate five phasal elements system.

Buddhas In Tiantai ontology, the reality that Hell Beings inhabit is the same reality in which the Buddhas live. There is no supernatural boundary between these ways of existing; nor are there opposing spiritual realms such as Heaven and Hell. Living and working next to us may be one who is a Hell Being, or a Bodhisattva, or even a Buddha.

The goal is not to depart this world and go into some other transcendent reality. It is to exist as a Buddha in this world. There is no other reality except this one; reality is one. In Tiantai, every human has the capacity to live in reality as a Buddha. Living as such does not make one eternal; every existing thing will be extinct in the form in which it now exists. This is a reflection of the empty nature of reality; the only reality that there is.

At the same time, Tiantai does not deny physical reality; it is no Idealism. Rather, it is a form of ontological Realism, confident that manifold concrete yet fundamentally empty things exist, but they may realize sublimity in this life.

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The monk Xuanzang c. His travels there are recorded in detail in the classic Chinese text Great Tang Records on the Western Regions , which in turn provided the inspiration for the imaginative spiritual journey novel Journey to the West , written by Wu Cheng'en during the Ming dynasty , around nine centuries after Xuanzang's death.

The central ontological tenet of Consciousness-only Buddhism is that nothing exists except consciousness. Reality is the flow of experiences and awareness of ideas is called perception. Perceptions are not caused by things external to humans such as concrete or material objects that continue whether humans are conscious of them or not. In ontological language, this is called Idealism, which contrasts with the Realism of Tiantai.

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In its original context in India, the Consciousness-only teachings were direct contradictions to the prevailing Indian physics of reality that all things dharmas are constructed from the atoms of earth, water, fire and air. It also stood in radical contrast to Chinese thought about qi and the five phases. Every deed that has ever been done and every idea that anyone has had is contained in this consciousness.

No dharma experienced idea exists by itself, and any alteration in the way other ideas cause it to exist would be a different experience entirely.

Still, not all consciousness is of the same level of development; some forms are higher than others. Beginning in the early 11 th century, a group of interdependent philosophers began to reconstruct Chinese philosophy by using a new grammar. They sought to merge Confucian thought with Daoist and Buddhist concepts.

While they surely thought of themselves as Confucian, and valorized Confucius and Mencius c. This family of thought included philosophers such as Zhang Zai , Cheng Hao , and Cheng Yi Without doubt, Zhu Xi is the most influential of these thinkers. His philosophy set the parameters of philosophical conversation on ontology throughout East Asia for over years. Western philosophers of the same stature would include Aristotle in the Classical period, Thomas Aquinas in the Medieval period, and Immanuel Kant in the Enlightenment period.

Did he think of Principle s as singular or plural? What should be included in Principle s when he uses this as an ontological concept? Does Principle s refer to something like the logical scaffolding of reality that is, its design, order, logical structure, or pattern? Does Zhu Xi use Principle s to mean something like the natural laws discoverable by chemistry, physics, and the like? Zhu Xi sometimes uses Principle s in one of these senses and sometimes in another.

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It is not possible to reduce his remarks on Principle s to any one of these exclusively. Likewise, the term is sometimes used in a singular and sometimes as a plural in his writings. But this is not a thing or a being. Rather, before shapes and things began to exist, the Supreme Ultimate from which they came had the principles of shape and order, but was not itself any shape or form.

It cannot be said to exist yu as one thing alongside others. It existed before Heaven and earth. It is not as though a brick is an expression of the Platonic Form of a brick. The Supreme Ultimate is a concept used for talking collectively about the Principle s governing the five phases and yin and yang. On this reading, Principle s enable concrete configurations of qi to yield the myriad things that furnish reality. The latter work offers a succinct summary of the main themes he developed throughout his life.

Wang is often understood to be an ontological Idealist. But he makes it clear that he is not an Idealist in a famous story where he points out to a friend the flowering trees on a cliff. He then challenges Wang by claiming the flowers are independent from his mind. He says that before the friend looked at the flowering trees, they were simply there in their vacancy, but when the friend experiences them, he thinks of them as a tree, a cliff, and flowers.

Why is this? For Wang, the reason is very clear. It is because human minds are inherently patterning. Known as the Human minds Principle li , this patterning that makes things as they are into a universe or reality.

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So, Wang is not denying the existence of concrete things as in Idealism but he is insisting that these things are not without the patterning that the mind brings to experience. When human minds do this patterning it is not always a conscious or deliberative process. Wang does not set Principle s in a transcendent sense apart from concrete things. In fact, he gives them no existence apart from the human mind. Some interpreters hold that Dai Zhen was responsible for a major paradigm shift in Chinese thinking on ontology. Furthermore, Dai did not think that Principle s were independent of concrete things as Zhu did, but neither did he think they were an activity of the human mind as Wang believed.

Instead, he conceived of Principle s as the internal order tiao or pattern wen of things-in-themselves. Purpose, pattern, and design are not imposed on reality by human beings, but neither do they derive from a transcendent realm that is wholly other than the natural process itself. Instead, they are a part of the very nature of the stuff of reality itself.

Some interpreters of Dai characterize his position by means of a rather distinctive Chinese example. A method used to determine the authenticity of a piece of jade in China is to hold it up to the light and observe whether veins can be seen in its translucence. If so, the jade is authentic.

If not, it is an imitation and a fake. Accordingly, Dai may be interpreted to be saying that concrete objects have such analogous striations and these are the Principle s that give order to reality. Hu specifically acknowledged the influence of Thomas Huxley and John Dewey on his thought, and he was a contemporary with some of the most prominent Western philosophers, including Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger.

He has been called the central figure in 20 th century Chinese academic thought. Hu studied in a Western-style system in Shanghai, being particularly impressed by the Darwinian theory of evolution. While still a young student in Shanghai, he summarized the changes in his conception of life in the universe from the Chinese ontology with which he was raised. Its includes the following points:. This work, which he saw as a turn from Chinese philosophy leading up to the 20 th century, illustrates his commitment to the experimental sciences.

He continued to embrace this credo throughout his life. Can we know something to be true, or do we only believe things to be true skepticism?

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Are all knowledge claims of the same sort? Are they justified in the same way? What are the tools we use to know something reason, senses, direct apprehension, and so forth? Do we possess innate knowledge? Is there a limit to what we can know? He insists that knowledge must be pursued by means of three criteria Mozi This is understood as what the historical records report. He takes this to mean direct experiential testimony to the truth of a claim. His third test for determining truth is that the truth of a claim rests on observing whether acting on the claim yields the expected results, which should obtain if it is true.

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Applying these three criteria leads Mozi to accept the claim that ghosts and spirits exist. He argues that received knowledge includes the intervention and existence of spirits as explanatory devices and that there is widespread testimony to the presence of such phenomena. Most importantly, however, Mozi feels that the pragmatic implications of giving up such a belief would be disastrous; cruelty, robbery, and warfare, for Mozi, are common precisely because people have come to doubt whether ghosts and spirits exist or not.

These thinkers have been variously classified as debaters, rhetoricians, dialecticians, logicians, and skeptics.