Buddhist philosophy, Chinese

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-G002-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved March 25, 2019, from

1. Historical overview

The development of Chinese Buddhist philosophy can be divided roughly into four periods: (1) the early introduction of Indian and Central Asian Buddhism (first–fourth centuries ad); (2) the formative development of Chinese versions of Indian and Central Asian Schools (fifth–seventh centuries); (3) the emergence of distinctively Sinitic Buddhist schools (seventh–twelfth centuries); and (4) the continuance of Chinese Buddhism into the present day (thirteenth century onwards).

From the fourth through the seventh centuries, Buddhists periodically realized that the positions being engendered in China were at variance with their Indian antecedents, and attempted to correct the problem, either through the introduction of additional translations or by clarifying differences between Buddhist and native Chinese ideas. By the eighth century, the Chinese had apparently become satisfied with the types of Buddhism they had developed, since from then on they lost interest in Indian commentaries and treatises and instead turned their attention toward Chinese commentaries on the Buddhist scriptures – such as the Lotus Sutra and Huayan Sutra – that had assumed importance for Chinese Buddhist traditions. Moreover, even though missionaries continued to arrive in China and new translations continued to be produced through the thirteenth century, none of the significant developments in Indian Buddhism (such as Buddhist syllogistic logic) from the seventh century onwards had any lasting impact on Chinese Buddhism, and many important texts and thinkers (for example, Dharmakīrti, Candrakīrti, Śāntarakṣita) remained virtually unknown in East Asia until modern times (see Buddhist philosophy, Indian).

Citing this article:
Lusthaus, Dan. Historical overview. Buddhist philosophy, Chinese, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-G002-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.

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