Buddhist philosophy

Buddhist philosophy refers to the philosophical investigations and systems of inquiry that developed among various Buddhist schools in India following the parinirvana (i.e. death) of the Buddha and later spread throughout Asia. The Buddhist path combines both philosophical reasoning and meditation.[2] The Buddhist traditions present a multitude of Buddhist paths to liberation, and Buddhist thinkers in India and subsequently in East Asia have covered topics as varied as phenomenology, ethics, ontology, epistemology, logic and philosophy of time in their analysis of these paths.

The Buddhist Nalanda university and monastery was a major center of learning in India from the 5th century CE until the 12th century.[1]

Early Buddhism was based on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs (ayatana)[3] and the Buddha seems to have retained a skeptical distance from certain metaphysical questions, refusing to answer them because they were not conducive to liberation but led instead to further speculation. A recurrent theme in Buddhist philosophy has been the reification of concepts, and the subsequent return to the Buddhist Middle Way.[4][5]

Particular points of Buddhist philosophy have often been the subject of disputes between different schools of Buddhism. These elaborations and disputes gave rise to various schools in early Buddhism of Abhidharma, and to the Mahayana traditions such as Prajnaparamita, Madhyamaka, Buddha-nature and Yogācāra.


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