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Classical Indian Buddhist Philosophy
Classical Indian Buddhist philosophy encompasses a vast range of thinkers, schools, and issues. One important tradition is abhidharma (higher doctrine), a scholastic philosophy that examined key elements of Buddhist teaching and developed often elaborate and highly detailed analyses of the psycho-physical elements of existence. Early Buddhism is commonly divided into eighteen philosophical schools—including such influential traditions as Sarvāstivāda, Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika, Sthaviravāda, Mahāsāṃghika, and so forth—though more are actually mentioned in Indic sources. Each of these developed its own distinctive philosophical system and engaged in debate with both Buddhist and non-Buddhist rivals. With the rise of Mahayana, new philosophical systems—including the Middle Way school (Mādhyamika), the Yogic Practice school (Yogācāra), and the Epistemological school (Pramāṇa)—developed. Tantric Buddhism added a new stream of philosophical thought that developed the conceptual implications of tantric scriptural texts.