A Well-Reasoned Dharma: Buddhist Logic in Republican China
by Eyal Aviv
Department of Religion,
The rediscovery of Buddhist logic (Skt. hetuvidyƘ, yinming 㖶) in early 20th century China was a key element in the Chinese Buddhist response to modernity. I argue that while Buddhist intellectuals used Buddhist logic for different purposes, their shared goal was to demonstrate that Buddhism was not only modern but also that it was and is indispensable for the modern project. The article addresses two reasons for the renewed interest in Buddhist logic. Firstly, the revival should be understood in the context of logic’s newly gained authority and significance in the early part of the 20th century in China.
Secondly, the rise of Buddhist logic was a product of doctrinal debates within Buddhism. With globalization and growing foreign influence, Chinese Buddhists revisited Buddhist teachings that were in the margins for centuries. These teachings, primarily from the Yog¢c¢ra schools, challenged ubiquitous views in Chinese Buddhism. Buddhist logic was not only one of the doctrines that was rediscovered, but it was also one of the most effective tools in
Eyal Aviv 伶⚳╔㱣厗䚃枻⣏⬠⬿㔁䲣≑䎮㔁㌰
㐀天 ⛐Ḵ⋩ᶾ䲨⇅炻慵㕘䘤䎦ἃ㔁怷廗炷 㖶炸㗗ᷕ⚳ἃ㔁⮵㕤䎦ẋ⿏ ↢䘬⚆ㅱᷳᶨˤ㛔㔯娵䁢炻ἃ㔁䞍嬀ấ⫸晾↢㕤ᶵ⎴䘬䚖䘬ἧ䓐ἃ㔁怷 廗炻ỮṾᾹℙ⎴䘬䚖㧁㗗天嫱㖶ἃ㔁ᶵ㗗䎦ẋ䘬炻侴ᶼ㗗䎦ẋ⊾忚䦳⽭ ᶵ⎗⮹䘬ˤἃ㔁⬠䓴↢㕤ℑᾳ⍇ ⮵ἃ㔁怷廗䓊䓇Ḯ㕘䘬冰嵋烉䫔ᶨˣ ˬ怷廗˭⛐Ḵ⋩ᶾ䲨⇅䘬ᷕ⚳塓岎ḰḮ㕘䘬㪲⦩慵天⿏炻ㆹᾹ⽭枰⛐㬌 ᶨ㬟⎚側㘗ᶳἮ䎮妋ἃ㔁怷廗䘬⽑冰烊䫔Ḵˣἃ㔁䓴ℏ悐䘬㔁佑彗婾Ὣㆸ Ḯἃ㔁怷廗䘬⽑冰ˤ晐叿ℐ䎫⊾⢾Ἦ⼙枧䘬㖍䙲⡆攟炻ᷕ⚳ἃ㔁䓴攳⥳ 慵㕘⮑夾忶⍣⸦䘦⸜攻ᶨṃ朆ᷣ㳩䘬ἃ㔁佑䎮ˤ忁ṃ朆ᷣ㳩⿅゛炻䈡⇍㗗 㸸㕤ⓗ嬀⬿䘬⿅゛炻ᶨ䚜㊹㇘叿ᷕ⚳ἃ㔁ᷕ䘬ᶨṃ㘖念⭂婒ˤ⛐忁䧖側㘗 ᶳ炻ἃ㔁怷廗ᶵㆸ䁢塓慵㕘䘤䎦䘬㓶佑炻侴ᶼ㗗䎦ẋᷕ⚳⛐彗婾㚱斄ἃ 㔁㛔岒冯㛒Ἦ䘬㚱㓰ⶍ℟ᷳᶨˤ 斄挝娆烉 ἃ㔁怷廗ˣ 㖶ˣⓗ嬀ˣ䎦ẋἃ㔁ˣ䎦ẋ⿏
This paper will focus on the Buddhist revival of hetuvidyƘ (yinming 㖶) in early 20th century China. HetuvidyƘ translates as “the knowledge or science of reasoning,” but often denotes “Buddhist logic” (henceforth I will refer to hetuvidyƘ as Buddhist logic).1 The paper argues that the revival of Buddhist logic is a product of changes within Buddhism as well as of the rediscovery of logic in the early part of the 20th century in China. Both phenomena were a
part of the broader attempt by Chinese intellectuals to harness the new authority of logic as a means to legitimize the Chinese intellectual tradition and to come to terms with the crisis of the late Qing and the Republican periods. For Buddhist intellectuals, Buddhist logic was a proof that Buddhism was a modern tradition and a tool for repositioning Buddhism in debates with both non-Buddhists and within different schools of Buddhism. The paper follows the
major Buddhist thinkers behind the revival of Buddhist logic and surveys their contributions. It starts by contextualizing the role of logic within the project of modernity. It then analyzes the motivation and contribution of each Buddhist thinker and, through their careers, constructs the history of the resurgence of Buddhist logic. Finally, it contextualizes the evolution of Buddhist logic within the crisis of the modern period and demonstrates that although their reasons for and methods of studying and teaching Buddhist logic were different, these intellectuals shared the conviction that Buddhist logic is central to the Buddhist project and should be viewed as one of the strategies Buddhists employed to remain relevant in an age of skepticism.
Sadly, very little was written by scholars about the sociology (Rosental 2008, 2–3) of the cultural history of logic. Most histories of logic focus on the way logical reasoning has evolved throughout the years and on the contributions of individual thinkers.2 An important and understudied question is how these forms of reasoning functioned in a socio-historical context. It is clear that the
1 Not everybody agrees that HetuvidyƘ can be translated as “Buddhist logic.” Some, such as contemporary hetuvidyƘ scholar Ven. Gangxiao ∃㙱, insist that hetuvidyƘ has different goals and methods than logic (see his 2013 lecture notes on hetuvidyƘ http://www.fjdh.cn/wumin/2013/03/160727213696.html, accessed April 18, 2014). 2 See, for example, Haaparanta (2009) and Kneale and Kneale (1985).
study of logic was not a value-free endeavor. As Pierre Bourdieu famously argued, knowledge is a kind of capital, and certain knowledge can be counted as cultural capital when said knowledge is accepted in a particular society as a means for social mobility and a symbol of prestige (Bourdieu 1986). Logic and, by extension, scientific knowledge were the most coveted forms of cultural capital during the Republican period. Consequently, much was at stake in
determining whether China had logic or not, and in highlighting the role of logic in the Buddhist tradition. In many ways it was (and still is) analogous to asking whether China in general—and Chinese Buddhism in particular—was an advanced civilization that could use its own intellectual resources to modernize, or if China must acknowledge her cultural weakness and borrow from Europe and perhaps India. This debate is as relevant today as it was during
the Republican period. Before moving ahead with this discussion, some may ask whether we can talk about “Buddhist” logic. To those who argue for the universality of logical principles, there is something misleading about qualifying logic with geographic or cultural adjectives, for if logic lives up to expectations and transcends cultural expressions, it cannot be qualified as “Chinese,” “Buddhist,” or “Western.” For these scholars, Buddhist or Chinese logic is by definition not logic, in the same manner that we should not take seriously the existence of Chinese science or Buddhist mathematics. Yet, I
will refer to hetǍvidyƘ as Buddhist logic for two reasons: 1. Chinese intellectuals refer to their own logic as Chinese logic and oftentimes to hetǍvidyƘ as Buddhist logic. 2. It is quite clear that Indians and Westerners developed distinct ways to formalize patterns of reasoning. For this reason, it is justified to qualify the term logic without concerning oneself with whether the claims for universality are valid.
The centrality of logic to modernity is not hard to construct. It was a key pillar of Western domination and set Western empires apart from prior empires. Unlike empires in the pre-modern world, Western imperialism relied on a novel worldview that combined a few guiding ideologies:
A Well-Reasoned Dharma:
3. The use of scientific methods to ensure the superiority of the technology they employed, systematize the colonial political structure, and study the cultures with which they forced trade. This mixture of science, imperialism, and capitalism was interrelated and led to unprecedentedly powerful empires which ruled over territories that eventually covered the entire globe. The most successful of these new empires, the British Empire, changed the course of
history (Harari 2011, 249–378). Logic, or more broadly, reason, is at the heart of Western ethos going back at least to Plato. As Charles Taylor tells us: “The higher life [for] Plato is that ruled by reason, and reason itself is defined in terms of vision of order, in the cosmos and in the soul” (Taylor 1992, 20). This ethos was a core tenet of the “Age of Reason” or the Enlightenment. Logic was perceived by many as the means through which reason is expressed3 and the way to know the rules through which our world is operating. As famously put by the philosopher and logician Ludwig Wittgenstein, “Logic
is not a body of doctrine, but a mirror-image of the world. Logic is transcendental” (Wittgenstein 1998, 78 [6.13]) Logic and mathematics were closely connected with science. Consequently, in the modern period the new style of philosophy was said by Bertrand Russell to: “[differ] from that of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume by its incorporation of mathematics and its development of a powerful logical technique” (Russell 1945, 834). It became evident to
Buddhists in the early decades of the 20th century that aligning Buddhism with scientific thinking would be most useful in times when the authority of science trumped any other form of traditional authorities.4 As David McMahan has shown, establishing Buddhism as a scientific religion, or even as superior to science, was a strategy that was used (and is still being used) by different traditions of Buddhist modernists (McMahan 2008). During the Republican period in China, science enjoyed a “totemic status as a marker of certain and modern knowledge” (Ritzinger 2013, 93). Consequently, articulating the Buddhist message using scientific language
3 This view is still common today. See for example Gensler (2010, 1) or Priest (2001, 1). 4 For more, see Ritzinger (2013) and Hammerstrom (2010).
was a way to remain relevant, and prevent marginalization through participation in the newly emerged elite discourse. While logic in Europe has a long history and is perceived mainly as the study of the patterns or rules governing reason, in Republican China it was recognized as a means through which Westerners achieved their superiority. Logic was seen as a subset of scientific reasoning. The Sino-Japanese war convinced many among the Chinese
intelligentsia that finding answers in the Confucian canon was no longer applicable to their reality. Western science was identified as a more reliable means of reaching truth and knowledge and logic was crowned as the “science of sciences” (Kurtz 2011, 8). Yan Fu ♜⽑ (1854–1921), a pioneer in introducing Western thought to China through his translations, expressed this view when he argued along those lines, claiming that the Baconian spirit of
scientific inquiry was the foundation for Western power and that its practical application necessitated the “abstract sciences of mathematics and logic” (Kurtz 2011, 151). Liang Qichao 㠩⓻崭 (1873–1929) agreed and argued that “the lack of logical thinking was the most consequential deficit in Chinese philosophy” (Kurtz 2011, 313). Earlier intellectuals of the self-strengthening movement5 hoped that they could appropriate science without other elements
of Western worldview such as philosophy (and logic), economic policies, and the new political order. Soon, however, it became clear that the Western “secret” to power was more complicated than just learning to emulate Western technology and produce advanced weapons. It was a worldview rooted in a different way of thinking. Logic, it became evident, played a crucial role in the Western outlook. The view that logic is central to the project of modernity was strengthened by the influence of logicism6 in the first decades of the 20th century.
5 Ziqiang yundong 冒⻟忳≽. A dominant movement during the second half of the 19th century in China that arose in response to the military threat of Western powers after defeats in the opium wars. The movement included some of the most famous writers and intellectuals of the time, such as Li Hongzhang 㛶泣䪈 (1823–1901), Zeng Guofan 㚦⚳喑 (1811–1872), and Zhang Zhidong ⻝ᷳ㳆 (1837–1909), and tried to preserve China’s Confucian worldview while strengthening its army through the acquisition of Western technology. 6 Logicism was a tradition that emerged from the work of logicians and mathematicians such as Gottlob Frege and Richard Dedekind and was further embraced by Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead in their Principia Mathematica.
According to Xu Yibao, Bertrand Russell’s logicism inspired many intellectuals at the time. Logicism emphasized the centrality of the scientific method. The scientific method is rooted in mathematics, and mathematics is rooted in logic. In other words, mathematics is an extension of logic. Of course, this view was not shared by all Chinese intellectuals, but Russellian logicism was part of the zeitgeist in those days and reflected the newly acquired status of logic as a means to modernize the nation (Xu 2003).
According to Tom Tillemans, the notion of hetuvidyƘ (or the “science of reasons”) can be seen as a subdivision of the broader category of pramƘΧa. PramƘΧa (often translated in its technical sense in Chinese as liang 慷) means “measure” and, in its extended meaning, “a means of valid cognition” / “a means of knowledge.” Tillemans warned that these English terms “are no more than approximation for a multi-faceted system in which logical theory was a major
element, but certainly not the only one” (Tillemans 1999, 1–2). Theodore Stcherbatsky provided a fuller range of concerns that one can find among the Indian PramƘԜavƘdins, which include: a doctrine on the forms of syllogism (which, for Stcherbatsky, can sufficiently be labeled “logic”), theories on sense perception, theories on the reliability of knowledge, and theories about the reality—or lack thereof—of an external world as it is cognized by our senses
(Stcherbatsky 2008, 1). It is important to remember this broader meaning of pramƘΧa when we consider the reception of Buddhist logic in modern China. For many, the allure of this field of knowledge was rooted precisely in its association with what we in the West call “logic.” For other Buddhists the concern was more internal and stemmed from their desire to save Buddhism rather than the nation (or in some cases to save both). Historically it was a period in which new concepts were introduced to China—the concept of “logic,” of course, but also “religion,” “science,” and “philosophy.” While politically religion
was accepted and protected, it was inferior in its prestige to “science.” As Justin Ritzinger demonstrates, science in China was used rhetorically in a prescriptive rather than a descriptive mode. Intellectuals used the authority of scientific discoveries to assert new normative claims (Ritzinger 2013, 6–7). It was therefore of paramount importance to situate the Buddhist tradition as “logical” and as aligned with science rather than with religion or, even worse, with superstition (mixin 徟 ᾉ). To be labeled “superstitious” was tantamount to being non-modern and
therefore not relevant for modern China. In this respect, the rising popularity of Buddhist logic can be seen as one of the strategies Buddhist intellectuals employed to argue that their tradition was not a relic of the past, but an important part of modern China.7 Being scientific and logical quickly became the opposite of being superstitious when Chinese intellectuals returned to their “past tradition of logic” by claiming that several pre-Han philosophers used logic as well.
In the waning years of the Qing dynasty, Chinese intellectuals discovered “their logic.” It was not the case that Chinese never thought logically or that their literary products were illogical. Rather, the category of “logic” as a distinct area of study was introduced into China only in the first decade of the 20th century. Before the 20th century few intellectuals were interested in logic, as there was no room for additional methods of determining truth other than the traditional interpretations of the Confucian canon (Kurtz 2011, 8). The function of determining truth is important here, as Émile Durkheim
famously observed: “impersonal reason is only another name given to collective thought” (Durkheim 1976, 446). In Republican China the source of impersonal reason and therefore truths accepted in the Chinese collective thought shifted from the Confucian classics into logic and science. And so it was that during the 1890s, one of the most vocal proponents of “Western Studies,” Liang Qichao, defined Western logical texts as “impossible to classify” (Kurtz
2011, 5). However, a few years after that statement, the study of Chinese logic “had not only become a mandatory subject in the curricula of Chinese institutions of higher learning but was also cited more or less routinely in academic and political debate” (Ibid.). While logic was an important part of the Jesuit tradition that impacted Chinese intelligentsia during the late Ming (during first half of the 17th century) and throughout most of the Qing dynasty, logic never developed into a distinct field of study. Instead, other fields such as philology and historiography became prominent under the auspices of the Evidential Research (kaozheng
7 For more on the campaigns against superstition and about the discourse of science see Duara (1995, especially chapter 3), Nedostup (2009), Goossaert and Palmer (2011, especially chapters 2 and 3); on the importance of science during the republican period see Kwok (1965), Hammerstrom (2010), and Wang (2002).
xue 侫嫱⬠) scholars. 8 Unlike their Jesuit predecessors, Protestant missionaries who were more active during the 19th century had higher priorities than promoting logic. These priorities were often reflected in “indifference toward the field [of logic]” (Kurtz 2011, 138). Things changed toward the end of the Qing dynasty. Kurtz writes about the emergence of logic studies in China: In view of the sustained disinterest recounted in the previous chapters, the
abrupt appearance of logic in Chinese discourses around the year 1900 seems all the more remarkable. Less than a decade after the only available text in logic left bibliographers perplexed, the discipline would be taught not only in China’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning but in colleges and normal schools throughout the country. Many of the mushrooming new periodicals carried articles on the discipline, mostly translated from Japanese, and
private publishers struggled to supply readable instructions to meet the growing demand from educational institutions and increasing numbers of curious readers. Logical societies and study groups were established not only in cosmopolitan urban centers like Shanghai but also in unlikely remote inland cities, such as Guiyang and in the far southwest (Kurtz 2011, 147). Largely thanks to Yan Fu, logic became a subject of interest. Another noteworthy
development that characterized the studies of logic in the early Republican period was the attempt to identify the origins of logic in the Chinese tradition. We will see that well-known luminaries, such as Liang Qichao and Hu Shi 傉怑 (1891–1962), were part of this trend, as well as Tan Sitong 嬂⎴ (1865–1989), who argued not only that there are roots for the study of logic in indigenous Chinese thought but also that European logic can be traced back to pre-Qin logicians such as Hui Shi よ㕥 and Gongsun Long ℔⬓漵 (Kurtz 2011, 139). Other supposed proponents for the budding science of logic in ancient China were Xunzi 勨⫸ (c. 310–c. 238 B.C.) and Mohism (⡐⭞). Yet when
8 The Evidential Research Movement can be traced to the early Qing (1644– 1911) and gained momentum during the 18th century. Evidential Research focused on precise methodology instead of particular orthodoxy in the study of the classics. They argued that precise study of linguistics, history, mathematics, and astronomy enabled scholars to better understand the intentions of past sages and offer better guidance for their own times (Spence 1991, 102–6).
Europeans first evaluated the content of their writings, they were critical. For example, Alfred Forke, one of the early Europeans who searched for logical treatises in early China, remarked that the “‘dialectic’ of these ‘Chinese sophists’ is of rudimentary kind… The Chinese mind has never risen above these rudiments and developed a complete system of logic, perhaps because it is altogether too illogical in itself” (Kurtz 2011, 278). That did not deter Chinese
intellectuals from trying to excavate logic in their own past. The first positive argument that logic indeed existed in China emerged in Japan. Kanie Yoshimaru 垡㰇佑ᷠ (1872–1904), who influenced Liang Qichao, argued for “logical value” in Xunzi’s response to the logicians in his chapter on the “Correct Use of Names.” Others in Japan, such as Kuwaki Gen’yoku 㟹㛐⍛侤 (1874–1946), quickly followed in his footsteps and recognized at least traces of logic in
Xunzi’s writings, the fragmented remains of the School of Names, and the Mohist corpus. The major figure behind the turn toward logic in the early 20th century was Yan Fu. In a letter to a friend, Yan Fu shared his confidence in the importance of logic. He said: “The insights and truths in [Mill’s Logic] are as numerous as silk thread in a cocoon…. They will do away with eighty or ninety percent of China’s old patterns, and people’s minds will gain strength from their application” (Kurtz 2011, 147). Yan and other like-minded modernists had little to work with. Like the early Buddhists who imported the foreign
tradition into China, the Chinese intellectuals who identified logic as crucial to the project of modernity had to translate the specialized vocabulary and standardize the different terminologies used in Western texts on logic. “The hundreds of lexical innovations Chinese and foreign translators had to create for their adaptation of logical texts attest that not even the most basic motions of the field had readily definable, let alone self-evident, equivalents in the languages of late imperial or ancient China” (Kurtz 2011, 6). Yan Fu was pivotal in bridging this linguistic and conceptual gap. For example, he
identified references in the Chinese classics “to induction (neizhou ℏ䯨) and deduction (waizhou ⢾䯨)” and argued that they are related to the “Western science of names” (Kurtz 2011, 280). He stopped short, however, from arguing that early logic indeed existed in ancient China. Yan Fu’s investigation of logic in China’s past was continued later by others. As we will see below, Zhang Taiyan’s 䪈⣒䀶 (1869–1936) study of Buddhist logic was conducted with similar goals, as were the efforts of Hu Shi, who in 1922 submitted his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University with the title “The development of the logical method in ancient China.” Liang Qichao was another such scholar. At first he criticized Yan Fu’s translation of
logical terminology for relying on pre-Qin philosophical terminology and conflating the old concerns of the Schools of Names with language and the relations between names (ming ⎵) with attributes (shi ⮎ also translated as object, or events), or the identity (tong ⎴) and difference (yi 䔘) with the concerns of modern logic. For Liang, “this science has nothing to do with the words of the ancient Chinese sophists” (Kurtz 2011, 313). But eventually he changed his mind, and he too reached a conclusion that in order to rebuild China for the future, it must rely on its past by returning to the logicians of the Warring States Period ㇘⚳㗪ẋ (475–221 B.C.), such as Mozi ⡐⫸ (c. 471–c. 391 B.C). Liang also agreed with Yan Fu and others that the deficiency of logic in Chinese history had a detrimental effect on China’s situation. Liang identified three reasons for the lack of China’s ability to develop logic:
1. The fact that Chinese were always busy with practicalities;
In the first few years of the 20th century Liang had studied Western logic with the help of Japanese scholarship, comparing and contrasting it with the Mohist canon. Liang concluded that Mozi was the unrecognized Francis Bacon of China (Kurtz 2011, 326). This intellectual archeological work conducted by Yan Fu, Liang Qichao, and others focused on the indigenous Chinese writings about logic and built bridges between logic studies in the Chinese past and the modern period. What was missing in this discussion was the Indian contribution to the Buddhist tradition.
Describing the history of Buddhist logic in India, even briefly, is beyond the scope of this paper. Logic, or a formal presentation of an argument, has been part of Buddhist literature from its earliest days. Already in the nikƘyas, the Buddha used familiar forms of argument in India. In the Majjhima NikƘya, the Buddha used the Four Logical Alternatives or catuΙkoΛi (⚃⎍). In its negative form it can be formulated as: S is P S is not P S both P and not P S is neither P nor not P.
In the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta (MN 639), the Buddha argues that he never promised to commit to any of the following positions: 1. That the TathƘgata exists after death; 2. That the TathƘgata does not exist after death; 3. That the TathƘgata both exists and does not exist after death; 4. Or that the TathƘgata neither exists nor does not exist after death. Other formal arguments are presented throughout the PƘli canon. Buddhist logic, however, became much more central to Buddhist thought after the death of the Buddha. This occurred because Buddhist logic’s main function in the Indian context was to solve the
question of valid knowledge. How do we know that what we know is real? Among the Buddha’s followers his authority was sufficient as a source of knowledge, but with time, the Buddha was history and Buddhists were constantly challenged by rival schools. This intellectual flourishing of the Indian “hundred schools” became part of the other concerns of Buddhist logic (that Zhang Taiyan, as we will see below, highlighted), namely, to be used in a debate culture
where the validity of a claim is determined by the result of effective and formal presentation of the problem using a perfectly constructed syllogism. There are several early texts that discuss logic formally, such as Vasubandhu’s VyƘkhyƘyukti (Shigui lun 慳年婾 The Treaties on Explication), which focuses on debate, or his 9Ƙda-vidhi (A Method for Argumentation), one of the earliest works on logic. Still, the major figure often mentioned as the father of Buddhist logic was DignƘga (ca. 480–540 C.E.). DignƘga’s pioneering work was later expanded and systematized by Dharmakưrti (ca. 600–670 C.E.), but the
later and more mature phase of Buddhist logic would not make it to China for another 1,300 years. As far as we know, it was never disseminated: if Dharmakưrti’s writings were in circulation they left no imprint. DignƘga’s work, however, was translated by Xuangzang 䌬⤀ (602–664) and Yijing 佑㶐 (635–713), who were more aware of the state of Buddhism in India. Among his works of logic that exist in Chinese, two were particularly influential: the Ny¢yamukha (Introduction to Logic. Translated by Xuanzang as Yinming zhengli men lun ben 㖶㬋䎮攨婾㛔, T 1628 and by Yijing as Yinming zhengli men lun 㖶㬋䎮攨婾, T 1629) and the ƖlambanaparƯ¢ڍ� (Examination of the Cognitive Object. Translated by ParamƗrtha as Wuxiang sichen lun 䃉䚠⿅⠝婾, T 1619, and by Xuanzang as Guansuoyuanyuan lun 奨䶋䶋婾, T 1624).His major magnum opus, PramƘΧasamuccaya (Jiliang
lun 普慷婾 Compendium of Correct Cognitions) was translated into Chinese only in the 20th century. It later became one of the most important texts in Lü Cheng’s study of Buddhist logic (Lü also dedicated much effort to the study of the ƗlambanaparưNΙƘ). Why was DignƘga so important to the history of Buddhist thought? The reason lies in his pioneering role in the formulation of Buddhist logic. For DignƘga (and Dharmakưrti, who further developed the Buddhist logic tradition), Buddhist logic was more than logic, it was the study and examination of all aspects involved in determining what constitutes correct cognition, including perception, the function of language, and inferential reasoning. It was for the latter that DignƘga was most famous and with
which he transformed not only Buddhist thought, but Indian philosophy in general. Richard Hayes indicated that DignƘga’s major concern was the study of “the nature and limitation of information that is gained through the interpretation of signs natural (signified object) and conventional (meanings). The first was investigated through inference (anumƘna) and the latter under a different kind of inferential process (Hayes 1988, 1). DignƘga was not operating in a vacuum. Much more than anywhere else, Buddhism in India evolved in an ongoing dialogue, and most often debate, with other schools of philosophy. DignƘga’s epistemological concerns are in large part a response to the NyƘya school’s (Zhengli xuepai 㬋䎮⬠㳦) challenge and their epistemology10 (Siderits 2007, 208–30).
10 To the NyƘyikas, there were four valid means of correct knowledge: perception, inference, testimony, and comparison. Buddhist logicians following DignƘga reduced it to only two: perception (pratyakΙa-pramƘΧa, xianliang 䎦慷) and inference (anumƘna-pramƘΧa, biliang 㭼慷) DignƘga rejected comparison and the pramƘΧa of authority, which was accepted by earlier logicians, even Buddhists. He argued that these latter two pramƘΧas are merely a sub-category
of inference. DignƘga argued against the NyƘyikas, who claimed that it is possible that different means of knowledge will cognize the same object. For DignƘga, each means of knowledge must have a distinct object. More specifically, perception has the real particular (which he calls svalakΙDΧa, zixiang 冒䚠 or self-characteristic) while inference has the universal as its object (which he calls VƘPƘnya-lakΙDΧa, gongxiang ℙ䚠 or shared characteristic). The svalakΙDΧa resembles the notion of dharmas’ svabhƘva as is often presented in the Abhidharma. While svabhƘva carries ontological implications for some
Abhidahrma schools, svalakΙDΧa is all about cognition for DignƘga. Siderits gives the example of the difference between inferring that there is a fire from seeing smoke versus perceiving a fire by being next to it. For the NyƘya, the object in two cases would be the 202 Journal of Chinese Buddhist Studies Volume 28 (2015)
A. Early Phase One of the reasons that Buddhist logic did not enjoy fame and glory in China was that the intellectual climate in China was radically different from that of India. The epistemological and linguistic issues that concerned Indian Buddhists were not as central in East Asia. Buddhists in China did not encounter such fierce philosophical opposition as Buddhists in India and grammarian culture was far more sophisticated in ancient India.
China also did not have the vibrant debate culture that developed in India. As Siderits noted, “[[[Scholars]] of the DignƘga school] seem to have thought that the dispute over certain metaphysical issues like the existence of an external world would never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.” Instead,
“philosophy could still contribute to liberation… if it could at least tell us what constitutes means of knowledge” (Siderits 2007, 208). In China the concern with metaphysics remained central whether it was among Buddhists or among NeoConfucianists throughout the centuries. Early reception of Buddhism in China occurred before the time of AsaՉga, Vasubandhu, and DignƘga in the 4th and 5th centuries. The golden age of Buddhist logic in China took place in the
7th and 8th centuries and was inspired by the texts translated by Xuanzang. Yet, a few important developments took place in the previous centuries. First, the translation of many Abhidharma texts during the 4th through 6th centuries raised many of the questions and introduced much of the vocabulary that would later appear in Buddhist logic treatises. The formation of Chinese Buddhist schools such as the (Abhidharma) Koğa school (Jushe zong ᾙ况⬿) popular during
7th and 8th centuries, and even before the Dilun (Dilun zong 婾⬿) and Shelun (Shelun zong 㓅婾⬿) schools during the 6th century paved the way for the advent of Buddhist logic in China. The latter schools especially promoted YogƘFƘra teaching, which was associated with Buddhist logic in East Asia, even if in India the relationship was not always clear. According to Shen (2001, 27–8) the first Buddhist logic text translated into Chinese was The Heart of Skillful Means (Fangbian xin lun 㕡ὧ⽫婾, T 1632), a debate manual attributed to NƘJƘrjuna by Buddhabhadra ἃ旨嵳旨
same, namely the fire, while for DignƘga the two would be different objects. Through perception one can perceive the fire while through inference one can cognize it. For more, see Siderits (2007, 208–30).
伭 (359–429) in the 5th century. The text did not survive, perhaps evidence of the little attention that debate manuals attracted in China. The Dilun and Shelun schools popularized YogƘFƘra studies. ParmƘrtha 䛆媎 (499–569), a major contributor to the translation of YogƘFƘra texts into Chinese, is said to have translated another debate text titled Rushi lun (⤪⮎婾 *Tarka-ĞƘstra, T 1633) attributed to Vasubandhu. 11 He also translated DignƘga’s
HastavƘlaprakaraΧa (Jiejuan lun 妋㌚婾, T 1620), which the Tibetan tradition attributes to Ɨryadeva 俾⣑ (c. 3rd century CE). These were all tiny first steps, with few consequences. To understand the modern revival of Buddhist logic we have to review the career of Xuanzang over a century later. B. Xuanzang, the Golden Age of Buddhhist Logic in China During the early Tang Dynasty, few Chinese monks traveled to India to learn about Buddhism first hand. Two of them were crucial to the translation process of texts from Sanskrit to Chinese: Yijing 佑㶐 (635–713) and Xuanzang 䌬⤀ (602–664). Aware of how
Buddhist logic was transforming Buddhism in India, part of the texts they brought were Buddhist logic texts. But even with the peak of interest in Buddhist logic, only a tiny fraction of the wealth of Indian Buddhist logic texts made its way to China. It is said that out of the 657 texts that Xuanzang brought back to India, only 36 of them were Buddhist logic texts. Sadly, Xuanzang translated only two (NyƘyapraveğa, Yinming ru zhengli lun 㖶ℍ㬋䎮婾, T 1630 of ĞDՉkarasvƘmin, a disciple of DignƘga and the NyƘyamukha, Yinming zhengli men lunben 㖶㬋䎮攨婾 㛔, T 1628 of DignƘga himself).12 These two texts became
the most influential texts in the study of Buddhist logic in China. Curiously, he did not translate DignƘga’s most important work, the PramƘΧasamuccaya (Jiliang lun 普慷婾). During the modern period the text was translated first by Fazun (㱽⮲ 1902–1980) and, as we will see below, it was also a subject of study by Lü Cheng. Xuanzang translated only one verse from this work and paraphrased a few others (Lusthaus 2003, 2). He may have failed to get to this difficult text or perhaps gave up on the challenge for some unknown reason. Be that as it may, there was relatively little interest in Buddhist logic among Chinese Buddhists even in the time when Buddhist logic was booming in India and when Chinese monks who traveled to India were aware of its importance there.
Yijing may have been more productive, but his idiosyncratic vocabulary and challenging style of translation made his translations less influential than Xuanzang’s. Yet, his contribution to the translation of Buddhist logic texts is hard to overestimate. Yijing translated DharmapƘla’s 嬟㱽 (530–561) commentary on DignƘga’s ƗlambanaparưNΙƘ. The ƗlambanaparưNΙƘ became one of the most important texts within the East Asian YogƘFƘra tradition. The text
itself is not strictly a Buddhist logic text; rather it deals with epistemology and a critique of the theory of atoms, but the commentary by DharmapƘla rephrased some of the issues around Buddhist logic’s concerns (e.g., debate strategies, the construction of DignƘga’s arguments in syllogistic forms, etc.).13 Yijing also retranslated the HastavƘlaprakaraΧa (Zhangxhong lun ㌴ᷕ婾, T 1621), and some of DignƘga’s other Buddhist logic texts: the UpƘGƘya-
prajñapti-prakaraΧa (Qu yin jiashe lun ⍾`姕婾, T 1622) and the 6ƘPƘnya-lakΙDΧa-parưNΙƘ (Guan zongxiang lunsong 奨䷥䚠婾枴, T 1623). After this humble beginning, we see a deluge of commentaries—more than twenty—coming from Xuanzang and Kuiji’s 䩢➢ (632–682) school (cien zong ヰ】⬿). Several disciples wrote commentaries about the NyƘyapraveğa and the NyƘyamukha, including monks such as Xuanying 䌬ㅱ (d.u.), Shentai 䤆㲘 (d.u.), and the Korean monk
Woncheuk ⚻㷔 (613–696). Kuiji, Xuanzang’s notable disciple, also wrote commentaries, and his disciple Huizhao (ㄏ㱤 648–714) authored an introductory book about Buddhist logic and a commentary on the NyƘyapraveğa. Kuiji’s commentary on the NyƘyapraveğa (Yinming ru zhengli lun shu 㖶ℍ㬋䎮婾䔷, T 1840), abbreviated later as the “Great Commentary” on Buddhist logic (Yinming dashu 㖶⣏䔷), includes an explanation of the leading Buddhist logic experts in China
at that time, and is a commentary that established itself as the foundational text in East Asian Buddhist logic tradition. With the rise of indigenous Buddhist schools such as the Huayan (厗⬿) and Chan (䥒⬿) in the late 7th and early 8th centuries, Xuanzang and Kuiji’s school lost its momentum among literati and in the SaՉgha. No more translations were introduced, and mainstream Buddhism in East Asia was almost completely ignorant of the revolution Dharmakưrti’s thought had brought to Buddhist logic and Buddhist thought in general. Chinese Buddhism had taken a path independent from much of the major development that took place in India.
13 Guansuoyuanlun shi 奨䶋婾慳, T 1625.
C. The Ming Revival Studies of Buddhist logic persisted throughout the centuries but remained in the margins of Buddhist studies. Out of the seventeen treatises written about Buddhist logic (a small number compared with the wealth of translations and treatises written during the Tang), only one survived (Shen 2001, 211). Generally speaking, however, since Buddhist logic was linked to YogƘFƘra and since YogƘFƘra was still studied in China, Buddhist logic
continued to be part of the curriculum. This all changed during the Ming dynasty (1368– 1644).14 What kind of scholarship did the Ming revivalists come up with and what sparked their interest in YogƘFƘra and Buddhist logic? The Ming’s scholarship was an attempt to reintroduce the achievements of the past rather than build new knowledge either by being innovative themselves or by studying how the tradition evolved in India. The conditions were not as ripe as they were during the Tang. At that point Buddhism in India was a matter of the past. The rich philosophical tradition of Buddhism was preserved and further developed in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhists gave much more importance to the Buddhist logic tradition (Tib. tshad ma) than their Chinese counterparts did. However, during the Ming Buddhist scholastic revival, Tibetan Buddhists were persecuted and began to be considered heretics. The Chinese literati bias
14 Ming YogƘFƘra is beyond the scope of this paper. Briefly, starting from the early 16th century Chinese Buddhists developed an interest in the study of YogƘFƘra and consequently also turned their attention to Buddhist logic. Sometime during the reign of Wuzong 㬎⬿ (1506–21), Lu’an Putai 欗 㘖㲘 (d.u.) wrote a commentary on Verses on the Structure of the Eight Consciousnesses (Bashi guiju song ℓ嬀夷䞑枴) and taught YogƘFƘra in northern China. The text is attributed to Xuanzang and shares some conceptual similarities with the Cheng weishi lun. Other interested scholars soon followed, including monks such as
Wuji Mingxin 䃉㤝㖶ᾉ (1512– 1574), a Huayan monk who was active in the south. He was a disciple of Lu’an and, like his teacher, had a deep interest in YogƘFƘra studies. Xuelang Hongwen 暒㴒㳒】 (1545–1608), who was in turn a disciple of Wuji, was also a scholar of Huayan who was interested in YogƘFƘra. He wrote the Eight Essentials of the Faxiang School (Xiangzong bayao 䚠⬿ℓ 天, X 899), one of the important YogƘFƘra texts of that period, which continued to be seminal into the modern period. Mingyu 㖶㗙 (1527–1616) wrote an excellent sub-commentary on DharmapƘla’s commentary on DignƘga’s Ɨlambana-parưNΙƘ and
against Tibetan religious practices led to a prohibition of the study of Tibetan and their Buddhist practices were scorned.15 Without external experts and new sources, indigenous Buddhist schools of thought influenced the Ming Buddhists’ interpretation of YogƘFƘra and Buddhist logic. The most dominant Buddhist movement in the Ming dynasty was Chan and most of those who studied YogƘFƘra were affiliated with this school in one way or another. Consequently,
the YogƘFƘra texts that they produced at the time were suffused with Chan flavor (Shengyan 1987). As summarized by Shen, “The major characteristic of the hetuvidyƘ studies during the Ming Dynasty is in the fact that all of their studies consist of superficial explanation of word-to-word translations. Their elucidation of the hetuvidyƘ inner logic was shallow and most of it consisted of elaboration about the theory through explaining examples” (Shen 2001, 216). Interestingly, as shown by Wu Jiang, around the same time of the Buddhist revival, the Buddhists’ own Confucian rivals found themselves defending their traditions against a new comer to the scene—Christian missionaries. In an attempt to respond to the Christians’ well-crafted arguments, Buddhists
such as Feiyin Tongrong 屣晙忂⭡ (1593–1661) used Buddhist logic syllogism to deconstruct Christian arguments about the proof for the existence of God and to demonstrate their inconsistencies. Thus, Buddhist logic was not developed or pursued by its own right, but instead used as an apologetic tool in the religious disputes of the day (Wu Jiang 2003). Buddhist logic had a similar function during the Republican revival. The Ming revival was short lived. Christianity remained in the margins during the late imperial period and consequently the need for Buddhist logic to address Christian claims diminished. The fragile late Ming revival (Zhang 2010) did not survive the socio-political changes of the Qing. The scholastic tradition as well as Buddhist logic would have to wait a few centuries before they resurfaced with full vigor during the final years of the Qing and throughout the Republican period.
During the 20th century, when China was undergoing one of its most radical transformations, Buddhists found themselves forced to adapt to new realities. They had to protect their tradition from campaigns to eradicate
15 See Shen (2011) and Orzech, Sørensen, and Payne (2011).
superstitions. 16 Buddhists also became aware of developments within Buddhist communities in Southeast Asia and, later, Tibet, which challenged and enriched Chinese Buddhism. No less important to our story, Buddhists in China were exposed to developments in the academic study of Buddhism in the West and, primarily, Japan. All that led to a renewed interest in the scholastic Buddhist tradition.17 Although this revival encompassed the study of the
Ƙgamas, the scholarship of the Madhyamaka school, the Abhidharma literature, and—most importantly for this paper—Buddhist logic, the school that attracted more scholarly attention than all the rest was the YogƘFƘra school. Interest in Buddhist logic can be understood as a part of the interest in YogƘFƘra and indeed most of the leading Buddhist intellectuals who contributed to the study of logic in modern China were also key players in YogƘFƘra’s revival. In the
following sections I present some of these major figures and how they advanced the study of Buddhist logic in China. If there is one event in the history of modern China that can be pinpointed as the rebirth of the Buddhist logic, it would be the shipment of more than 200 volumes of Buddhist texts from Japan back to China, and their subsequent recirculation among Chinese Buddhists and intellectuals in the final years of the 19th century. This was a gesture of
friendship by the Japanese priest Nanjǁ BunyǍ ⋿㡅㔯晬 (1849–1927), who sent them back to his friend, Yang Wenhui 㣲㔯㚫 (1837–1911), one of the foundational figures in the Buddhist resurgence in modern China. Nanjǁ and Yang Wenhui met in London. At the time, Yang was a diplomat and Nanjǁ worked with Max Müller on translating East Asian Buddhist texts into English. The shipment of lost texts back into China was a token of appreciation for the help
Yang provided Nanjǁ with his translation project. The most important texts in the collection were YogƘFƘra texts, and among them, Kuiji’s commentaries were pivotal in fueling the YogƘFƘra revival of the Republic.18 For our purpose, the single most important text is Kuiji’s “Great Commentary” on the NyƘyapraveğa, which made the vocabulary and conceptual framework of Buddhist logic available to a new generation of intellectuals. Initially, the focus was on the texts that were available in the East Asian canon. Later, texts available in Tibetan enriched the number of texts available and broadened the scope of the intellectuals’
16 See Duara (1995) and Nedostup (2009). 17 For more, see Aviv (2008), Makeham (2014), and Chu (2006). 18 See Aviv (2008) and Makeham (2014).
understanding. This led to a booming interest in Buddhist logic. More than thirty manuscripts on Buddhist logic were published throughout the Republican period. Yang Wenhui Yang Wenhui’s contribution to modern Chinese Buddhism encompassed much more than the reintroduction of Buddhist logic texts; he was an educator, a writer, influential in high circles of society, and, not least important, he was the founder of the still existent Jinling SǍtra Publishing
House (Jinling kejing chu 慹昝⇣䴻嗽), which prints modern Buddhist texts and circulates them all over the country.19 His work in England raised his awareness as to how much richer the tradition was compared to the narrower view he had been exposed to as a Buddhist in China. While working with Nanjǁ and
Max Müller he became aware of the Orientalist scholarship, especially the importance attached to the 3Ƙli canon and Sanskrit texts, and to the difference between Chinese and Indian Buddhism. Buddhist logic for him became one branch, among others, that had withered in China and needed to be replanted in order
for Buddhism to flourish. Later, we also see Yang begin to use Buddhist logic in debate with Japanese priests over interpretations of the Pure Land school’s doctrine. When Yang and like-minded Buddhists looked around, Buddhism was anything but flourishing. They were concerned with what they felt was a
decline in the quality of the study of Buddhism in China. Many of them believed that the school of Chan’s spirit of rejecting study and scriptural authority was harmful for constructing a strong foundation for Buddhism. Yang himself expressed this view, saying: “If one is attached to the kind of method [[[embodied]]] in the [[[Chan]]] concept of ‘not relying on words and letters,’ as a fixed teaching, then he is misleading himself and others” (Fang 2000).
Another friend of Yang’s, Xia Zengyou ⢷㚦ỹ (1863–1924), observed that there were very few Chinese Buddhists who could read the scholastic texts of the YogƘFƘra tradition, but when he visited Japan he noted how many scholars of Buddhist logic were able to penetrate the meaning of the challenging texts (Zhou 2000, 447). Buddhist logic was perceived as a critical component of any such strong foundations. Yang shared this view. He was already too old to undertake such study, but he encouraged his students to pursue this important aspect of the study of Buddhism. In one of his letters to Gui Bohua 㟪ỗ厗 (1861–1915) (his
19 See Welch (1968) and Chen (2003).
disciple and Ouyang Jingwu’s close friend), Yang tried to persuade him to pursue the study of Buddhist logic in order to obtain a scholarship provided by an uncited friend who was interested in promoting the study of Buddhist logic and YogƘFƘra. Yang’s goal was to encourage the kind of Buddhism that would enlighten the people and prevent them from accepting the wrong views (Zhou 2000, 452). Shen et al. believe this unnamed donor was probably Xia Zengyou
(Shen 2001, 323). Gui Bohua eventually gravitated toward the study of esoteric Buddhism, but the scholarship he was offered provides further evidence for the growing recognition of the Buddhist logic tradition’s importance at the time. In 1908, Yang Wenhui established the Jetavana VihƘra Academy (Qihuan jingshe 䣯㳡䱦况), his institute for the study of Buddhism. Buddhist logic occupied an important part of the curriculum. He asked his students to learn
Ouyi Zhixu’s 哭䙲㘢㖕 (1599–1655) commentary on the NyƘyapraveğa in their first year and then study the Kuiji’s Great Commentary in their third year (Shen 2001, 323). In the last few years of his life, Yang’s work relied increasingly on vocabulary and concepts taken from Buddhist logic. One example can be found in his employment of Buddhist logic as a weapon in his debates with Japanese Jǁdo ShinshǍ theologians. Similarly to Ming YogƘFƘra followers, Japanese Pure Land theologians in the 19th century used Buddhist logic to construct stronger arguments against Christian missionaries. Yang used it in an internal debate against the Jǁdo ShinshǍ doctrine. In a letter exchange with a Japanese priest, Yang argued: Let me rephrase your thesis (bizong ے۶) as a proposition (liliang ҥ ໆ): Your dharmin20 is the rebirth in the Pure Land. Your thesis (zong ے) is a believing mind in other power. The reason (yin Ӣ) is
the accomplishment of the eighteen vows of Amitabha. It is like the example of (yuru േӵ) steam engine ship. But, this syllogism is not properly constructed (nengli ૈҥ) as it abolishes self-power. While [the example] mentions a steamboat, [it does not say] who the steamboat belongs to. Therefore you ought to understand that those who attain the joy of the believing mind, and have the desire to be born in his world, are all depended [on his] self-power. The thesis of our school says: The dharmin is rebirth in the Pure Land. It is depended on
reciting the Buddha name; the proposition is self-power and other power. The reason is that cause and effect impact one another, just like two wheels in one vehicle (Zhou 2000, 515). Another example can be found in his comments on the 6Ǎtra of Complete Enlightenment (⚻奢䴻, T 842). Yang felt that previous commentators did not capture of true meaning of the sentence: Good sons, if all bodhisattvas and sentient beings of the degenerate age would merely do
this: at all times, do not give rise to false thoughts; in false states of mind, do not strive for cessation; when abiding in false objects, do not strive toward complete understanding; while not [abiding in] complete understanding, do not analyze true reality. If these sentient beings, hearing this teaching, believe, understand, assimilate and remember it without being shocked or frightened by it, they are said to be “according with the nature of enlightenment”
(Translation is modified from Charles Muller’s 2003 6Ǎtra of Perfect Enlightenment). Yang felt that he could shed some light on the phrase “when abiding in false objects” by using Buddhist logic terminology. He tied it to the five consciousnesses and argued: The five consciousnesses that arise from the five sense organs and their respective cognitive objects are merely a direct perception (Skt. pratyakΙa, xianliang ໆ). However, since they share the same mano-
vijñƘna (or mental consciousness) as their object it becomes an inference (Skt. anumƘna, biliang Кໆ) and consequently the direct perception is concealed. That is why it is called [in the sǍtra] “striving toward complete understanding” (Shen 2001, 324). Putting aside the validity of Yang’s exegesis, his vocabulary is evidence for the growing importance of Buddhist logic in his thought: Yang Wenhui’s interest in Buddhist logic seems to be limited to the
promotion of a more authentic Buddhism. We see this trend strengthening in his disciples’ work. Reintroducing Buddhist logic was a means to strengthen Buddhism and its foundation in times of uncertainty. Buddhist logic was also a way to defend the Chinese Buddhist interpretation of Pure Land thought against the religious imperialism of Japanese Pure Land priests who tried to export their sectarian institutions into China. Finally, although he himself
Buddhists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries means that his interest undoubtedly inspired other Buddhists to follow his footsteps. Wang Xiaoxu 䌳⮷⼸ (1875–1948) One of the most successful promoters of Buddhist logic Yang inspired was Wang Xiaoxu. Wang was a leading scientist as well as a Buddhist. The fact that he was scientist lent credibility to his evaluation of Buddhist logic. Wang’s unique contribution to the discourse of Buddhist modernity is
effectively described in Erik Hammerstrom’s 2010 dissertation and there is no need for me to reproduce it here (Hammerstrom 2010, 47–62). Instead, I intend to describe how, like Yang, Wang used Buddhist logic for apologetic purposes, especially against scientific materialism. Wang used the notion of the pramƘΧa (described on pages 194–5) to argue that science is empirical and based on the senses and the material world. If Buddhists learned anything from the discoveries of the 19th and 20th centuries,21 it was that material explanation derived from the senses is not enough to understand reality.22 Wang
concluded from this that the intuition (zhijue 䚜奢) that forms the foundations of science is not genuine direct perception (xianliang 䎦慷), but a pseudo-direct perception (si xianliang Ụ 䎦慷), therefore scientific direct perception yields inferences that are merely pseudo-inferences (si biliang Ụ㭼慷). Science alone cannot reach valid knowledge (Hammerstrom 2010, 341–3). In 1928, Wang published an essay titled “A Scientific Explanation of the Buddha-dharma” (Foxue zhi kexue de shuoming ἃ㱽ᷳ䥹⬠䘬婒㖶). In this piece Wang seemed to develop a better understanding of what is considered direct perception,
namely the indiscriminate sense perception. He equates science with direct perception (because of its empirical nature) and inference with Western logic. Since knowledge is based on correct inference, and since inference in the West was rooted in an incorrect understanding of the mind (Wang argued that Western understanding of the mind is limited to the manovijñƘna, the sixth consciousness that processes and integrates data from
21 He gave the example of electromagnetic physics, perhaps because he perceived them as non-material. At the same time Einstein’s theory of relativity was also an example he often referred to. 22 This kind of argument is still common today among writers who tried to use physics (either Einstein’s theory of relativity or, even more so, quantum mechanics) to argue for the existence of a higher existence than we can perceive through the senses. See, for example, Goswami (1995), Walker (2000), and Hodgson (2012).
the five senses), Western scientific inferences were necessarily deluded. According to Wang, the Western understanding of the mind failed to take into account the deeper layers of the mind and their functions, such as the seventh consciousness that creates the false sense of an “I.” True knowledge is fully understood, Wang thought, only in the experience of fully awakened buddhas and advanced bodhisattvas, as they possess the ability to have true direct
perception. He seems to suggest that highly attained individuals enjoy a knowledge unmediated by any inferential knowledge and experience reality as it is (yathƘ-bhǍtam) (Hammerstrom 2010, 294–349). Song Shu ⬳ (1862–1910): A Pioneer Student of Buddhist Logic Another important Buddhist intellectual who is often mentioned in association with the resurgence of Buddhist logic is Song Shu. Song Shu was a renaissance man and a devout Buddhist. He came from
Pinyang County in Zhejiang province, and was associated with the Yongjia school (㯠▱⬠㳦) of Confucianism, which was famous for its emphasis on practical concerns. In the last decades of the 19th century Song was consumed by the attempt to reform the Chinese political system. Like his friends Zhang Taiyan
and Liang Qichao, he was both a supporter of the monarchy and a reformer who criticized of the status quo. Like Zhang and Liang, he was also a devout Buddhist and an acquaintance of Yang Wenhui. Song Shu began his Buddhist path as a follower of the Pure Land tradition. He then began to doubt his path when he discovered the Chan school and for a while found it hard to decide which of the two schools’ paths he should choose. Eventually, he began learning the YogƘFƘra teachings and Buddhist logic from the Shanghai-based Japanese Jǁdo ShinshǍ priest Matsubayashi Kǁjun 㜦㜿⬅䲼. Song was inspired by the
sophistication of the YogƘFƘra school and the way Matsubayashi employed Buddhist logic in his arguments against the Christians. Consequently, he developed a strong interest in Buddhist logic. Matsubayashi introduced Song to Kuiji’s commentary on the NyƘyapraveğa. In a correspondence he had with another Japanese acquaintance, Song asked about the Buddhist logic studies of two Japanese experts: Kǁ\ǁ Kira 暚劙㗫 侨 and Murakami Senjǁ 㛹ᶲ⮰䱦 (1851–1928). In
his visit to Japan he also met Nanjǁ BunyǍ. The written account that we have of their conversation affirms that Buddhist logic was a genuine concern for Song Shu at the time. It is most evident when he criticizes Yang Wenhui’s studies of Buddhism, claiming they do not go deep enough because he did not study Buddhist logic (Shen 2001, 327–8). In Song Shu we see the usage of Buddhist logic as a means to critically assess what he perceived to be the failure of late imperial
Buddhism. This line of criticism was later developed by Ouyang and his disciples. For Song Shu, Buddhist logic was a corrective measure, a method through which one could understand Buddhism right after the “demons of the Chan [school]” and Pure Land followers’ anti-intellectual tendencies led to the decline of Buddhism. The result was that Buddhism declined after the Song dynasty in China, but was preserved in Japan partially because the scholastic tradition culminating with Buddhist logic never died there, and for that Song Shu was very grateful. As Song put it poetically: Hindu logic consists of thesis,
reason, and examples. Who knew this was similar to the Greek syllogismos? The Chan heretics forgot this adopted science after the Song; In the West, Europe perfected it—and now threatens China (Kurtz 2011, 282). We see in this poem another trope previously mentioned. Logic was not only a means to critically assess the decline of Buddhism in China, but also to respond to the Western threat. For Song Shu, the power of the West was linked to the perfection of
logic. China could not afford to remain behind. Another reason that Song Shu had gravitated toward Buddhist logic was his interest from a very young age in the art of public speaking and in debate. He said once that “public speaking (yanshuo 㺼婒) must have historical evidence as its wood and logic as its fire” (Shen 2001, 332). He thought that logic, whether its origins were in India, China, or the West, was an important tool to argue against Western domination and he admired the Japanese who learned to use both “Eastern” and “Western” logic. He argued that China, Vietnam, or India could not react as
effectively as the Japanese to the foreign aggression because of the Japanese ability to maintain their national essence (guouci ⚳䱡) which served as a defense against Western imperialism. Japan preserved their Shintoism and Confucianism, as well as Buddhism, and cultivated them as a kind of immune system
against external pressure. Buddhist logic was paramount in cultivating the kind of Buddhism that could in turn contribute to the national essence. Song also pointed for the first time to the similarities between Western logic and Buddhist logic, a comparison that would continue to occupy the younger generation of Buddhist logic students. His pioneering appreciation of the importance of Buddhist logic to the future development of Buddhism in China makes him an important figure in the story. Despite the fact that Song Shu did not become one of the leading scholars of Buddhist logic, he was
pivotal as a spokesperson for the cause of making Buddhist logic part of the Buddhist curriculum in China. Not only did he promote in theory, in 1905 he opened his own school in Shandong: the Cuihua School (Cuihua Xuetang 䱡厗⬠➪). There he taught, among other subjects, Buddhist logic using the NyƘyapraveğa and other materials. In fact, one of Song’s most crucial contributions to the promotion of Buddhist studies in China was the introduction of Buddhism to
his childhood friend, Zhang Taiyan. Zhang, who was earlier a critic of Buddhism as a religion that opposes the scientific spirit, was nudged by Song Shu in the direction of Buddhism. Although at first Zhang was skeptical and did not like what he read, the time that he spent in the Manchu jail a few years later transformed his attitude toward Buddhism and turned him into the first true pioneer of Buddhist logic in Republican China. Zhang Taiyan Zhang Taiyan 䪈⣒䀶
(1868–1936), or, in his original name Zhang Binglin 䪈䁛湇, was a philologist, philosopher, and textual critic who turned to Buddhism in the first decade of the 20th century. Zhang was a student of Yu Yue ᾆ㧦 (1821–1907), the well-known evidential research scholar of the late Qing. Yu Yue taught Zhang the critical historiographical and philological approach to the study of the classics. Zhang later traveled to Japan where he devoted a substantial part of his
time to the study of Western philosophy and psychology. Back in China in 1903, he was arrested for writing anti-Manchu propaganda. In jail he became fascinated with YogƘFƘra and dedicated much of his time in prison, from 1903 to 1906, to the study of YogƘFƘra classics such as the Cheng weishi lun (ㆸⓗ嬀婾, T 1585) and the YogƘFƘrabhǍmi (Yuqie shidi lun 䐄ụⷓ婾, T 1579). In addition he also began to develop an interest in Buddhist logic and studied the
NyƘyapraveğa, introduced to him by Song Shu. With time his appreciation of the Buddhist intellectual tradition grew, mostly as a result of his study of Indian Buddhist scholastic treatises but also from meeting Indian students in Japan. In a letter to the revolutionary monk and poet Su Manshu 喯㚤㬲 (1884–1918) he wrote: “Other than Chinese, among our Asian languages, Sanskrit and Arabic are the most accomplished. Sanskrit is particularly subtle” (Shen 2001, 339). He enthusiastically studied Indian philosophy and for a while even contemplated being ordained as a monk and traveling to India. He gave up the idea
surprising that Zhang became so seriously invested in Buddhist thought and logic. As outlined above, during the first decade of the 20th century interest in logic spiked. Chinese intellectuals were busy unearthing China’s own logical tradition. Those who accepted logic as the foundation of scientific thinking and were concerned with China’s national essence did everything they could to establish that China too had the necessary foundation to build a modern scientific society and to show that the lack of logical thinking in Chinese intellectual history was a sad accident that needed to be corrected. As
a response to external critics, such as Matteo Ricci who argued that “Chinese scholarship, despite all its sophistication, had produced ‘no conception of the rules of logic’; and knew nothing of ‘dialectic’” (Kurtz 2011, 277). Zhang partially agreed with Ricci’s assessment. Like other Chinese intellectuals he was invested in the national essence campaign, and like them he valued highly evidential research methods and scholarship. Yet he refused to employ the methodology of “matching concepts” (geyi 㟤佑) between the European and Chinese systems of thought in order to uncover “Chinese logic.” For him, instead of
going to the Mohist or School of Names nascent logic, Chinese intellectuals should find a more mature form of logic in a different corner of their tradition: Buddhism. Zhang Taiyan was not the first to recognize the potential contribution of Buddhist logic to the study of logic in China. Some Meiji Japanese scholars (e.g., Echǁ ChikǍ ㄏ㼬䘉䨢 [1780–1862], Kirara Kǁ\ǁ 暚劙㗫侨 [1824– 1910], and Murakami Senshǁ 㛹ᶲ⮪䱦 [1851–1929])23 and Western
intellectuals (e.g., Giuseppe Tucci [1894–1984] and Theodore H. Stcherbatsky [1866–1942]) recognized systems of logic developed in India especially as expressed in the Buddhist tradition as proof that non-Western forms of logic did not exist only in the West and that in some ways Indian logic was even
superior to that of the West. As we saw above, Chinese Buddhist intellectuals such as Song Shu also noted the potential to claim logic’s history in China through Buddhism. While Zhang was a Buddhist enthusiast whose study of logic could safely be considered a part of his fascination with this tradition, his unique approach calls for a broader perspective. Unlike Yang Wenhui or, later, Ouyang Jingwu and Taixu, Zhang’s interests went beyond Buddhist history and doctrine. Like Song Shu, Zhang was engaged in the debate about the history of logic in
23 For more, see Jorgensen (2014).
China and its place within the modern state. Zhang criticized the trend among other intellectuals to reformulate the Chinese indigenous intellectual heritage within the Western intellectual conceptual framework. Yet, he was willing to accept the category of logic and, as Kurtz concluded, it seems that Zhang “did not oppose radical reconceptualization per se, but only those that uncritically mirrored European taxonomies” (Kurtz 2011, 303). But if there
was logic in China, what was its nature? Was the view that Mohism and the School of Names represented Chinese logic adequate? And, if it was, was this logic something to be proud of? His study of these questions began in 1909 with the publication of his On the Origins of the Doctrines of Names (Yuanming ⍇⎵). Zhang began by reevaluating the traditional view of ancient Chinese schools of thought. For him, the School of Names was not the only school that was
concerned with the correct use of names (ming ⎵). In the same way that the “Dao” was a panChinese concern and was not only used by Daoists, the correct use of names was not only discussed by the School of Names but also among Daoists, Confucians, and Mohists. For Zhang, the School of Names was not even the most successful in these endeavors, as their usage of the method or science of studying names was based on “far-fetched and useless distinctions” (Kurtz 2011 303). For Zhang, they were merely “sophists” (Ibid.) He believed that Xunzi’s On the Correct Use of Names (㬋⎵䭯) and parts of the Mohist canon got
closer to Buddhist and European logic and dialectics. Zhang thought highly of Xunzi and juxtaposed Xunzi’s discussion of names with the famous YogƘFƘra claim that signs (including names) are merely a mental construct (Kurtz 2011, 304). In addition to locating the process of investigation of names as part of the mind’s construction of reality, Zhang also saw logic as a tool for debate. This was another important contribution of his foray into Buddhism and
Buddhist logic. In India, Buddhists had to debate other schools of thought. Mastering the art of debate was crucial to Buddhists’ survival in a culture whose most basic presuppositions about the nature of the world and the self were diametrically opposed to their own. While the Chinese had their fair share of interreligious and intellectual debate, Chinese culture never developed a systematic approach to debate the way India did. Zhang hoped that this would be one of the contributions of Buddhist logic to Chinese thought. While YogƘFƘra pervaded his metaphysical outlook, his study of logic focused on more specific topics, such as methodology of making an inference, debates and comparisons with Mohism and other non-canonical works, and Aristotelian and Buddhist systems of logic.
Zhang’s approach was cautious. He was aware that adopting terms from one system of thought for another was problematic. Yet comparison was inevitable if clarity was to be achieved. He demonstrated his method with the comparison of the Mohist term for reason (gu 㓭) with the meaning of reason in Buddhist logic. For Zhang, the Mohist “knowledge of reason” is elucidated through the Buddhist three-part syllogism (sanzhi biliang ᶱ㓗㭼慷), composed of thesis
(zong ⬿), cause (yin ), and example (yu ╣). Zhang noted that “Mozi’s ‘reason’ is similar to the cause/reason (yin ) in [[[Buddhist logic]]], for the thesis can only be established if reason is given” (Kurtz 2011, 307). Zhang quoted Mozi as saying “the ‘reason:’ only if something has it, will it be complete” (Ibid.). Kurtz demonstrates how Zhang was well aware that the comparison was shaky mostly due to the fact that, unlike Buddhist logic, Mozi never developed
his science of reason into a full syllogism. He found the Mohists’ discussion limited as “they failed to distinguish the functions of reason and example as established in the tripartite inference” (Kurtz 2011, 308). Mozi’s logic therefore was largely dismissed, a near “hit” that was never developed as far as the Buddhist equivalent. This is why “Chinese ideas could be recovered from oblivion by translating them into the rediscovered idiom of Buddhist dialectics
and the freshly minted terms of Western logic” (Kurtz 2011, 309). Not all scholars agree with Zhang’s assessment. Shen et al. argue in their book about Buddhist logic that although Buddhist logic was indeed more mature than Mohist logic, Zhang dismissed the Mohist logic too quickly: Despite the fact that its syllogistic forms were not as developed as that of Buddhist logic, in terms of advancing propositions (lunti ፕᚒ) and using specific examples in the process of demonstrating a [proposition] in order to establish an analogy, [[[Mohist logic]]] does not “lack the use of actual examples (wu suorong yuyi
٩േ܌ค)” like Zhang Taiyan has argued” (Shen 2001, 341). Another scholar accused him of disparaging Chinese logic because of his bias in favor of Indian thought and argued that Zhang’s critique was not the result of a “scientific attitude” (Ibid.) The national essence and the question of the logical nature of China’s intellectual and spiritual heritage were then—and still are—inevitably intertwined. For Zhang, Buddhist logic was superior even to Western logic. Western logic and Buddhist logic both include illumination through the self (ziwu 冒 ぇ) while only Buddhist logic includes illumination through others (tawu Ṿ
ぇ). This distinction is important. Illumination through the self is a process by which an individual learns new knowledge using inference or perception. Illumination through others is achieved through dialectics and conversation with others. Zhang thought that both European and Indian systems of logic only include the syllogism that enabled illumination through the self, but only the Indian Buddhist logic tradition developed the art of dialectic through which
new knowledge can be systematically attained by critical engagement with interlocutors in debate and through mutual exploration. Another point where Zhang judged Buddhist logic to have an advantage is the role of the example (Skt. GΩΙΛƘnta, yu ╣). Zhang argued that in Mohist logic the example appears before the thesis, while in Buddhist logic one begins with the thesis, continues with the reason, and finally provides the example. Zhang found it a much better
logical flow. He says: “Those who put the abstract example first do not allow for concrete examples” (Kurtz 2011, 310). This is where Zhang’s comparative strategy, as cautious as he tried to be, failed him. Aristotelian syllogism does not really demand an example the way the Indian syllogism does. The classical Aristotelian argument consists of: 1. Major premise: All big cats are carnivorous. 2. Minor claim: Cheetahs are a big cats 3. Conclusion:
Cheetahs are carnivorous. The use of examples is much more prevalent in Buddhist syllogism. Here is an example from DharmapƘla’s commentary on the ƗlambanaparưNΙƘ24: 1. Reason: Because [[[atoms]]] are unable to produce images of themselves in consciousness; 2. Thesis: viΙaya are not atoms; 3. Example: just as [they are not] eyes and the other indriyas. Zhang frequently used Buddhist logic in his arguments and, as in earlier cases, used it as a means to
attack modern and Western views that challenged his increasingly YogƘFƘra world view. For example, he used it when arguing against the Western god (Wushen lun 䃉䤆婾) as the creator of the world. He argued that if one would like to claim that all things were created by a deity, than something would have to create that deity, which would lead to the fallacy Buddhist logicians called “infinite regress” (wuqiong guo 䃉䩖忶). In his essay On the Five Negations (Wuwu lun Ḽ䃉婾), Zhang rejected five concepts that inevitably lead to the emergence of the kind of modern state of
4 T. no. 1625, 31: 889c29.
which he disapproved. These five concepts are: no-self, no-sentient beings, no-world, no-state, and no-groups. As Viren Murthy showed, the goal was to resist the evolution that is rooted in ignorance. This karmic force, like the Will in the case of Schopenhauer’s moral imperative, is one that we need to
resist, not to celebrate (Murthy 2012, 511–15). As part of his argument against the modern state, Zhang employed the following syllogism: “[[[Wikipedia:Thesis|Thesis]]] Race based nationalism (minzu zhuyi 㮹㕷ᷣ佑) is a narrow minded view, [[[Reason]]] because it imposes boundaries on that which has no boundaries, [Example] like the traditional clan-based thought” (Zhang 2003, 221) Another way that he constructed the syllogism is: “[[[Wikipedia:Thesis|Thesis]]] State-based nationalism is a narrow minded
view, [[[Reason]]] because it imposes boundaries on that which has no boundaries, [Example] like provincialism (cunluo sixiang 㛹句⿅゛)”25 (Ibid.). Zhang, like most Chinese scholars, had a limited selection of texts with which he could work, and no knowledge of other classical Buddhist languages. Yet, among the first generation of intellectuals who studied YogƘFƘra and Buddhist logic texts that arrived from Japan, Zhang was by far the most knowledgeable about Chinese, Western, and Buddhist logic, and contributed more than anyone else to the reintroduction of Buddhist logic to the broader Chinese intellectual discourse. His influence on the reception of logic in China did not spread much beyond Buddhist circles, which is possible evidence that Buddhist intellectuals perceived Buddhist logic as a tool for modernizing Buddhism, while Chinese non-Buddhist intellectuals preferred to domesticate Western logic.
Ouyang Jingwu and Taixu Two important reformers of Buddhism during the republican period were Ouyang Jingwu 㫸春䪇䃉 (1871–1943) and Taixu ⣒嘃 (1890–1947). Both were educators, leaders, and prolific writers, and both established schools and exerted considerable influence on the future of Buddhist education in China.26 While both highlighted the importance of the YogƘFƘra school, their contributions to the study of Buddhist logic were not as far reaching as their work in other areas. Their importance lies in the fact that they promoted the study of Buddhist logic, made it part of the curriculum in their Buddhist
25 Literally, village mentality or village thought. 26 I limit myself here to their contributions to the study of Buddhist logic. For more about the career and role of Taixu see Pittman (2001) and Ritzinger (2010). On Ouyang Jingwu, see Cheng (2000) and Aviv (2008 and 2014).
academies and dedicated some of their essays to the subject. The fact that Buddhist leaders of their stature advocated for the study of Buddhist logic contributed to its rise in popularity during the Republican period. For Ouyang, YogƘFƘra was a solution for an inherent problem in the way Chinese intellectual history had evolved. In his essay “Discussing Weishi[‘s Major Topics]” (Weishi jueze tan ⓗ嬀㈱㑯婯), he argued that part of the problem with
Chinese Buddhism was the Chinese intellectual tradition’s “vague and unsystematic” nature (longtong ⃙Ἷ) and that it “lacks careful investigation” (shi jingmi zhi guancha 㫈䱦⭮ᷳ奨⮇) (Ouyang 1976, 1359– 60). While Ouyang does not refer in this essay to Buddhist logic, it is not a big stretch to suggest
that Buddhist logic could be a useful tool to correct sloppy thinking. Early in his career, Ouyang wrote a commentary on DharmapƘla’s commentary of DignƘga’s seminal ƗlambanaparưNΙƘ, which, as we have seen, included a refutation of the theory of atomism through reliance on syllogistic forms from
Buddhist logic. During the late 1920s Ouyang Jingwu was busy printing critical editions of Buddhist texts. Among them, he published and edited the NyƘyapreveğa and the NyƘyamukha. He also wrote prefaces to both texts and argued that the NyƘyamukha is the more important of the two. In addition, Ouyang
was the first to understand the limitations of the materials available to the Chinese reader through the canon. He argued that it was impossible to understand the tradition without the towering work of Dharmakưrti 㱽䧙 (ca. 7th century), one of the most profound and creative Buddhist philosophers in
the history of Buddhism. While DignƘga is most often recognized as the founding father of Buddhist logic, Dharmakưrti’s work was considered the foundation of Buddhist logic throughout the later history of Buddhism in India and Tibet. Since Dharmakưrti’s influence spread after Xuanzang’s visit to India and
because Xuanzang’s interest in Buddhist logic waned after said visit, Dharmakưrti’s works were not translated into Chinese until the modern period. Ouyang argued for the first time that Dharmakưrti was even more important than DignƘga to understanding Buddhist logic. While he himself was much more interested
in metaphysics and soteriology, he encouraged his students to work on the Sanskrit and Tibetan materials. Like other intellectuals of his day, Ouyang recognized the importance of logic. Like Zhang Taiyan, he was critical of the attempt to understand Buddhism through other forms of logic. But unlike Zhang, he cared more about what Buddhist logic said about Buddhism than what it said about logic.
Buddhist logic was a means to show that Buddhism has its own logic and therefore should be a respected tradition whose teaching should not be reduced to a sub-category of philosophy. (Ouyang 1995, 82–3). As with Ouyang, only a small part of Taixu’s corpus is dedicated to Buddhist logic. He was a prolific writer, but his greatest mark was not in his scholarship, but rather in the reforms he offered to the SaՉgha. His charisma and followers among the elite
gave greater weight to his endorsement of Buddhist logic, and his inclusion of Buddhist logic in his Wuchang Buddhist Institute was an important part of the tradition’s story in Republican China. Like Ouyang, and perhaps inspired by him and others, Taixu wrote extensively on YogƘFƘra. Taixu also wrote about Buddhist logic. His most important work Introduction to Buddhist Logic (Yinming gailun 㖶㤪婾) was published in 1922 and outlines the major principles of the tradition and analyzes its principal texts. It was based on a lecture he gave at Zhonghua University. In the book Taixu argues that Buddhist logic is
for teaching people correct theories and helping them understand the truth (Introduction to Buddhist Logic, http://www.buddhaway.org/Taixu-T00/T06-01d.pdf, accessed May 4, 2014). Ouyang and Taixu’s goal was the same: to promote Buddhism. However, they each understood Buddhism, and consequently Buddhist logic’s role in the tradition as a whole, in different ways. Taixu saw Chinese Buddhism as the crowning achievement of Buddhism. Chinese Buddhism, for Taixu, is perfect when all of its eight pillars, or eight schools, are flourishing. His interest in Buddhist logic was a part of his attempt to reintroduce it as a
part of the YogƘFƘra school and an important component in the modernization of Buddhism. Ouyang, on the other hand, believed that many of the indigenous Chinese schools, especially Huayan and Tiantai, were not genuine Buddhism. In addition, he believed some practices in Pure Land and Chan Buddhism should also be given up. For Ouyang, there was an important difference between Indian Buddhism and its later Chinese iteration. To make Buddhism relevant in the modern age, it had to return to its authentic form. Ouyang understood YogƘFƘra to be the most perfect expression of this authentic Buddhism, and he saw
Buddhist logic as part of this authentic tradition. Ouyang’s major disciple, Lü Cheng, continued Ouyang’s project to authenticate the Buddhist tradition in China. Lü’s scholarship took Buddhist studies in China to a whole new level of philological sophistication and linguistic ability. It was Lü Cheng who studied PƘli, Sanskrit, and Tibetan, and was able to transcend the linguistic limitations that hindered most of the other scholars around.
Lü Cheng 㼪 (1896–1989) and the Quest for Authenticity So far, we have seen numerous examples of Buddhists and other intellectuals who celebrated Buddhist logic, used it to argue against Christians and rival interpretations of Buddhism or, as in Zhang’s case, against nationalism and “statism.” In all of these cases, an understanding of the deeper structure and rationale of how Buddhist logic works was deficient. Take, for example, one of Zhang Taiyan’s
syllogisms discussed above: “[[[Wikipedia:Thesis|Thesis]]] Race based nationalism is a narrow minded view, [[[Reason]]] because it imposes boundaries on what has no boundaries, [Example] like the traditional clan-based mentality.” As noted above by Tillemans, Buddhist logic is rooted in epistemological concerns and in debate culture. There is no way to construct a well-formed syllogism without establishing first the tacit or explicit agreements on what constitutes a pramƘΧa: a valid means of knowing something. According to the NyƘyapraveğa, one of the ways to commit a fallacy (Skt. hetvƘbhƘVƘΗ, siyin Ụ) is for the reason to be
accepted only by one side (liangju bucheng ℑᾙ ᶵㆸ see NyƘyapraveğa, T 1630, 11c10–14). Here interlocutors from the revolutionary party are likely to dispute the reason and also the thesis and the examples. A complete and valid syllogism cannot exist with an inherent logical fallacy. In addition, another logical problem in Zhang’s syllogism is ambiguity. Ambiguity is a fallacy wherein a proposition is rejected because its status is doubtful (Skt. saΥdigdha-asiddha, youyu bucheng guo 䋞尓ᶵㆸ忶) for it does not follow from the fact. For example, a state is an artificial construction that artificially forms
boundaries and thus is narrow-minded. One can think of reasons why it is actually a brilliant idea. Also, it is not clear from the example what a state has to do with clan mentality. Did clans also impose boundaries on that which does not have boundaries? We can find similar problems with others who used Buddhist logic and it seems safe to suggest that it took time for Chinese intellectuals to reacquaint themselves with the intricacies of Buddhist logic. One of the scholars—arguably the most important scholar—who brought the study of Buddhist logic to maturity was Lü Cheng. Lü’s systematic approach and
meticulous attention to detail came with a price. Unlike Zhang, Yang Wenhui, or Ouyang, Lü’s scholarship remained too technical to become practical for most Chinese Buddhists and non-Buddhists. He did not apply it to debates outside of the scope of Buddhist studies, and consequently his A Well-Reasoned Dharma: Buddhist Logic in Republican China 223 achievements remain academic in nature and failed to sustain a lasting interest in Buddhist logic. Lü Cheng was no leader or public intellectual, which is
probably why he is the least known among the names mentioned. He was a scholar throughout his life. He began his academic career with an interest in economics and switched to art, following his brother Lü Fengzi 沛⫸ (1889–1959). His brother was also the one who introduced him to Buddhism and took him to hear Ouyang Jingwu teach Buddhism at the Jinling SǍtra Publishing House, Yang Wenhui’s important institution for the dissemination of Buddhist texts. Lü remained committed to Ouyang. In 1922, when Ouyang opened his Inner Studies Institute (Zhina neixue yuan 㓗恋ℏ⬠昊) and asked Lü to join him, Lü quit his
job at the Shanghai School of the Arts (Shanghai meishu zhuanke xuexiao ᶲ㴟伶埻⮰䥹⬠㟉). He remained Ouyang’s right hand throughout Ouyang’s life and became the head of the Inner Studies Institute after Ouyang’s death until the Institute was forced to close its gates in 1952. Lü was committed to Ouyang’s project of reviving the scholastic tradition of Buddhism as a response to what they saw as the maladies of Buddhism in the modern age. Lü himself played an important role in the Inner Studies Institute’s program to distinguish between what they saw as authentic Buddhism (zhenshi 䛇⮎ / zhen fojiao 䛇ἃ㔁) and
inauthentic or fake Buddhism (jia/xiangsi fojiao `/䚠Ụἃ㔁). Unlike most of his other students, Lü followed Ouyang’s advice and studied other Buddhist languages. Most important for his future works were Sanskrit and Tibetan (he also studied PƘli). Lü studied them with a Russian Sanskritist, Baron Alexander von StälHolstein (1877–1937), who had escaped the Bolshevik revolution to Beijing. Lü also studied with another of Ouyang’s brilliant students, Huang Shuyin 湫 㧡 (1898–1923), who sadly died prematurely. Huang, whom Ouyang compared later to Yan Hui 柷⚆,27 studied Tibetan in Beijing with Tibetan monks in the Yonghe Temple (晵⭖) and studied Sanskrit with the German linguist Ferdinand Lessing (1882–1961). In five years of intensive study, Lü
dedicated much time and effort to master these two languages, skills which served him and Ouyang in publishing the critical editions for the canonical texts (啷天) (Lin 2014, 346). Lü’s contribution went well beyond Buddhist logic and included numerous publications about the history of Buddhism in India, Tibet, and China. Lü also wrote extensively about the Ɨgamas, Abhidharma texts, and YogƘFƘra. Free from the limitation of only Chinese sources, Lü studied new texts and engaged
27 Confucius’s disciple who also passed away prematurely.
in comparative philological methodology, which yielded important insights and corrections to common misinterpretations of important texts among Chinese Buddhists. Among these texts we can find foundational sǍtras and ğƘstras such as the Diamond SǍtra or the LaφNƘvatƘra SǍtra, as well as essays rejecting
the authenticity of other works such as the Awakening of Faith (Dasheng qixin lun ⣏Ḁ崟ᾉ婾, T 1666 for ParmƘrtha’s translation and T 1667 for the later ĞikԕƘnanda translation) and the ĞǍraφgama SǍtra (Da foding shoulengyan jing ⣏ἃ枪椾㤆♜䴻, T 945). Inspired by scholarship that came from Japan that gained traction among Chinese scholars, Lü argued that these works are not genuinely Buddhist, that they were product of Chinese authors and contained mistaken
ideas about Buddhist doctrine. Working with other Tibetan and, when available, Sanskrit sources, Lü delineated their doctrinal evolution, identified the junctures where the translations deviated from the original meaning and where commentators interpreted canonical texts in way that led to the production of apocryphal and, to his mind, misguided sǍtras and ğƘstras. In his study of Buddhist logic, Lü benefited from a collection of texts that Huang Shuyin
brought with him from his Tibetan teachers. While most of them were YogƘFƘra texts, one foundational text in the field of Buddhist logic was DignƘga’s PramƘΧasamuccaya. Lü Cheng saw Buddhist logic as crucial to the authentic Buddhism he sought to propagate. In the formative years of the Inner Studies Institute (1923–1926), most of the courses he offered were on YogƘFƘra and Buddhist logic. Lü used a variety of texts to teach Buddhist logic (Lin 2014,
354). Lü’s work with languages beyond Chinese led to major progress in the level of scholarly work in the field of Buddhist studies in China. As Dan Lusthaus explains: Correlating Chinese texts with their Sanskrit and/or Tibetan versions provides insights otherwise unobtainable from the Chinese texts alone. In the case of difficult texts or passages—and there were many— consulting the Sanskrit or Tibetan could offer invaluable clues to otherwise unsolvable interpretive conundrums. Indian and Tibetan texts not only offered alternative interpretations of important Buddhist concepts, but they also shed light on how to critically read the Chinese translations more accurately, since they could reveal what lay behind a translator’s method and choices and clarify the intended denotations of
terms that were sometimes obscured by their Chinese literary equivalents (Lusthaus 2014, 320). When we take into account the fact that, before Lü Cheng, the majority of scholars relied on only the few Chinese materials available, one can appreciate the contribution that Lü’s erudition brought to the study of logic as well as to other facets of Buddhist studies. Lü’s philological approach can be seen in his translation of DignƘga’s PramƘΧasamuccayavΩtti based
on two Tibetan translations.28 Lü’s translation of the PramƘΧasamuccayavΩtti was the first major translation of a new Buddhist logic text into Chinese since the Tang. Lü also translated into Chinese DignƘga’s HetucakraΕamaru (Yinlun jueze lun ⚈廒㈱㑯婾 The Drum Wheel of Reason, a text that focused on the three characteristics of the sign (Skt. liφgasya trairǍpya, yin sanxiang ⚈ᶱ䚠).29 His philological and cross-reference analysis methods can be seen in
most of Lü’s work on Buddhist logic. Like many others, Lü first studied Kuiji’s commentary on the NyƘyapraveğa, which resulted in the publication of his “On the Fourteen Logical Fallacies in the NyƘyapraveğa” (Rulun shisi yinguo jie ℍ婾⋩⚃⚈忶妋). The essay relies on the Chinese text but also on a thorough study of the two Tibetan versions, together with other supplementary materials. When the Sanskrit version was discovered, Lü added it to a later critical edition of the text in 1935 (Lü 1991, 153–6; Lin 2014, 355). His
28 DignƘga’s PramƘΧasamuccaya and its 9Ωtti, or commentary, has not survived in Sanskrit. Lü Cheng relied on two Tibetan translations— that of Kanakavarman and Dad-pa ğes-rab, and that of Vasudhararakԕita and SeՉrgyal (see Lin 2014, 355). For years the PramƘΧasamuccaya was available only in Tibetan. In recent years, Professor Ernst Steinkellner discovered a complete Sanskrit edition of the PramƘΧasamuccaya in central Tibet embedded in a sub-commentary by Jinendrabuddhi. It is now being published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. 29 The three characteristics are three conditions that
a syllogism in Buddhist logic must contain in order to be considered valid. The three are: (1) The thesis and the reason must share similar property. Using one of the most common examples, “Sound is impermanent. Because it is a product. Like a pot.” Here the Thesis (sounds is impermanent) is made up of subject (dharmin) and predicate (VƘdhya). The subject “sound” has the property outlined in the reason “it is a product.” (2) A similar example: Like a pot (the pot is also impermanent because it is a product). (3) A dissimilar case is often also provided. Here there is no product that is not impermanent. So no dissimilar case can be provided.
comparative methodology continued with his study of DignƘga’s NyƘyamukha and the PramƘΧasamuccayavΩtti. His studies led him to conclude that DignƘga’s methods in his major work the PramƘΧasamuccaya were based on the NyƘyamukha (Lin 2014, 355–6). Lü Cheng also applied his philological skills thoroughly to his analysis of DignƘga’s Ɨlambana-parưNΙa. Its commentary by DharmapƘla 嬟㱽 (circa 6th century) formulated many of the arguments as syllogisms and framed the arguments of the text within the context of the original debate, or at least the debate as DharmapƘla thought it occurred. The Ɨlambana-parưNΙa is also an important text in the history of East Asian YogƘFƘra. The text was introduced to China by three of the most prominent translators in the history of
Chinese Buddhism. Both ParamƘrtha (T 1619) and Xuanzang (T 1624) translated DignƘga’s texts, in the mid-6th century and mid-7th century (657) respectively. Yijing (T 1625) translated the commentary of DharmapƘla, excluding the last two verses of the text.30 During the Ming’s short YogƘFƘra revival, two main commentaries appear by Ouyi Zhixu and by Mingyu. The Ɨlambana-parưNΙa was also considered to be one of the foundational texts of YogƘFƘra by Xuelang Hongen 暒㴒㳒】 (1545–1608) in his influential work the Eight Essential [Texts] of the Faxiang School (Xiangzong bayao 䚠⬿ℓ天, X 899).31 Lü published several essays about Buddhist logic. Among them is an essay about the early phase of Buddhist logic in China (Yinmingxue zai zhongguo de zuichu fazhang 㖶⬠⛐ᷕ⚳䘬
㚨⇅䘤⯽), another on Tibetan Buddhist logic (Xizang suozhuan de yinming 大啷⁛䘬㖶), and an essay on Dharmakưrti’s logic (Fojiao luoji: Facheng de yinming shuo ἃ⭞怷廗烉㱽䧙 䘬㖶婒). One of the crowning achievements of Lü’s writings on logic is his highly acclaimed Primer of Buddhist Logic (Yinming gangyao 㖶䵙天), published in 1926. The Premier is still one of the most compressive books on Buddhist logic written in Chinese. Lü opens with the five phases (as he divided them) of the history of Buddhist logic. He then carefully outlines the major premises of the Buddhist logic tradition (the fifth—and the most crucial one from Dharmakưrti onward—was not transmitted to China). In the following three chapters Lü explains the basic three-fold syllogism and goes over each of its components: thesis, reason, and example. In the following
30 It is unknown if the original DharmapƘla text was unfinished, if Yijing for some reason failed to translate the last two verses and their commentaries, or that the text simply did not survive. 31 The NyƘyapraveğa was another one.
chapters he explains in detail how to construct a valid syllogism with plenty of examples, and later illustrates how to attack and properly refute others’ syllogisms. The last section is dedicated to a discussion of the two valid means of knowledge: direct perception (Skt. prayakΙa-pramƘΧa, xianliang 䎦 慷) and inference (Skt. anumƘna-pramƘΧa, biliang 㭼慷) (Lü 2006). In 1914, a few centuries after the Ming resurgence of YogƘFƘra, Ouyang Jingwu began his prolific career as a writer with his own commentary on Yijing’s translation of DharmapƘla. Ouyang’s commentary relied on the Ming commentary, but despite
his effort and the efforts of so many previous readers and writers, the text remained a challenge to its readers. With this context in mind, Lü Cheng stepped up to the challenge and used his philological and linguistic skills to work on his own translation based not only on the three translations in Chinese, but also on those available in Tibetan versions together with a commentary by Vinitadeva which does not exist in Chinese. Lü’s goal was to get the
most accurate understanding of the text and to shed new light on the foundational text using, for the first time since the Tang, nonChinese sources. When putting Lü’s work on Buddhist logic in the general context of his work and in the broader context of the Inner Studies Institute’s mission, it is clear that his goal was to reintroduce Indian texts and genres into Chinese Buddhism, use them to challenge conventions that, according to critical methods, proved to be erroneous, and make the strongest case possible for a genuine Buddhism. Unlike Ouyang Jingwu, who remained committed to the Buddhist path until his death, it seems that for Lü Cheng, as time went by, his interest was less motivated by his identity as a Buddhist and more as a scholar of Buddhism.
The role Buddhist logic played in China still awaits further study. What was the fate of the study of logic in the later years of the Republican period and during the first few decades of the People’s Republic of China? Why did Buddhist logic, yet again, fail to take root among Chinese Buddhists? Was Buddhist logic’s moment of glory and subsequent disappearance from public discourse tied to the short-lived popularity of YogƘFƘra? What was the legacy of the study of Buddhist logic for later generations of Buddhists? This paper addressed the role of Buddhist logic during the early decades of the 20th century, when logic became one of the authoritative means of
knowledge in China and replaced other traditional authorities, most importantly the Confucian canon. Scientists and experts on Western thought took the place of imperial exam degree-holders. Their methods were not the study of authoritative interpretations of the canonical texts, but logic and knowledge based on experimentations. Once the field of logic was recognized, it soon turned to what Bourdieu called “cultural capital,” knowledge that led to
prestige and authority. Chinese intellectuals searched their own indigenous philosophical tradition for a native form of logic, which was important in order to show that Chinese culture was advanced and had the roots of logic even if it had failed to develop it as the West had. Buddhist intellectuals’ interest in Buddhist logic should be seen as a part of the Chinese fascination with logic and the authority it quickly assumed. Studies of Buddhist logic
were conducted both by those who wished to claim Buddhist logic was a part of China’s logical history and by those who wished to establish Buddhism as a modern tradition (and, in cases like that of Zhang Taiyan, some scholars tried to do both). The generous shipment of hundreds of Buddhist volumes by Nanjǁ
BunyǍ to China, which included many YogƘFƘra and Buddhist logic texts that were reintroduced to the mainland made it possible to convert the general interest into more meticulous studies. The study of Buddhist logic evolved with time. The goals and methods of modern students of Buddhist logic were diverse. Most of the scholars studied in this paper thought of Buddhist logic as an important tool for purging Buddhism of damaging aspects that had evolved in China over the years. Yang Wenhui and followers such as Song Shu and Ouyang Jingwu critiqued the “sloppy thinking” prevalent among Chinese Buddhists, which resulted from Chan Buddhism’s anti-intellectualism trope. Logic became important as a tool to defend against other Buddhists and especially non-Buddhist claims. Using Buddhist logic as an apologetic tool can be traced to the Ming Dynasty revival of YogƘFƘra. We saw that in the modern
period both Yang Wenhui and Song Shu employed Buddhist logic as an apologetic tool against Japanese Pure Land interpretations of the Buddhist teaching or, in the case of Zhang Taiyan, as tools for criticizing the Christian notion of a creator god. Buddhist logic as an apologetic tool was also used by Wang
Xiaoxu to argue against scientific materialism. Zhang Taiyan was the most prominent student of Buddhist logic who recognized its value beyond Buddhism. For him, Buddhist logic was a part of the heritage of Chinese (or Asian) tradition vis-à-vis the Western one. Zhang
A Well-Reasoned Dharma: Buddhist Logic in Republican China 229 argued that Buddhist logic was not only important for Buddhism but it also had broader significance, as it added to the study of logic’s dimensions that he
thought were missing from Western logic. Finally, Buddhist logic was a part of the quest of some Buddhist intellectuals—most notably Ouyang Jingwu and Lü Cheng—to purge Buddhism in China of its indigenous and non-authentic aspects. While monks such as Taixu wished to weave Buddhist logic into the tapestry of
Chinese Buddhism, Ouyang Jingwu and Lü Cheng saw authentic Buddhism as Indian Buddhism, especially as expressed in the YogƘFƘra teaching. Authentic Buddhism was, for them, a modern tradition based on reason and as such could serve as a perfect vehicle for personal transformation in the modern period.
Buddhist logic was a part of authentic Buddhism that they wished to reintroduce to China. Yet, all the scholars studied in this paper shared the conviction that if Buddhism was to be modernized, Buddhist logic must play an important role in reshaping the tradition. And, for a short period of time, Buddhist logic did play this role. It remains to be seen whether Buddhist logic will retreat to the margins or will become again a cornerstone in the revival of Buddhism in contemporary China. If it does flourish, the foundational work of the early Republican scholars will undoubtedly be pivotal in educating a new generation of Chinese Buddhist intellectuals in the art and science of Buddhist logic.
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