Buddhist atomism had two major movements. During the first phase,
Buddhist atomismhad a very qualitative, Aristotelian-style atomic theoryin ancient India. According to this ancient Buddhist atomism, which began developing before the 4th century BCE, there are four kinds of atoms, corresponding to the standard elements. Each of these elements has a specific property, such as solidity or motion, and performs a specific function in mixtures, such as providing support or causing growth. Like the Hindus and Jains, the Buddhists were able to integrate a theory of atomism with their theological presuppositions.
The second phase of Buddhist atomism, during the time of
Dharmakirti(7th century), was very different from the first phase. Indian Buddhist philosophers in this second phase, including Dharmakirtiand Dignāga, considered atoms to be point-sized, durationless, and made of energy. In discussing Buddhist atomism, Stcherbatsky writes:
:"...The Buddhists denied the existence of substantial matter altogether. Movement consists for them of moments, it is a staccato movement, momentary flashes of a stream of energy... "Everything is evanescent“,... says the Buddhist, because there is no stuff... Both systems
[Sānkhya, and later Indian Buddhism] share in common a tendency to push the analysis of Existence up to its minutest, last elements which are imagined as absolute qualities, or things possessing only one unique quality. They are called “qualities” (guna-dharma) in both systems in the sense of absolute qualities, a kind of atomic, or intra-atomic, energies of which the empirical things are composed. Both systems, therefore, agree in denying the objective reality of the categories of Substance and Quality,… and of the relation of Inference uniting them. There is in Sānkhya philosophy no separate existence of qualities. What we call quality is but a particular manifestation of a subtle entity. To every new unit of quality corresponds a subtle quantum of matter which is called guna “quality”, but represents a subtle substantive entity. The same applies to early Buddhism where all qualities are substantive… or, more precisely, dynamic entities, although they are also called dharmas ('qualities')." (Stcherbatsky 1962 (1930). Vol. 1. P. 19).
* Stcherbatsky, F. Th. 1962 (1930). Buddhist Logic. Volume 1. New York: Dover.
* cite book
first = Georges
title = Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti's Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretations
year = 1997 | publisher =State University of New York Press
location = New York
id = ISBN 0791430987
* [http://nyaya.darsana.org/post99.html Abstract Buddhist Atomism at Indian Logic Forum]
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