Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 335–404

Dharmakīrti on the role of causation in inference as presented in Pramāṇavārttika Svopajñavṛtti 11–38



In the svārthānumāna chapter of his Pramāṇavārttika, the Buddhist philosopher Dharmakīrti presented a defense of his claim that legitimate inference must rest on a metaphysical basis if it is to be immune from the risks ordinarily involved in inducing general principles from a finite number of observations. Even if one repeatedly observes that x occurs with y and never observes y in the absence of x, there is no guarantee, on the basis of observation alone, that one will never observe y in the absence of x at some point in the future. To provide such a guarantee, claims Dharmakīrti, one must know that there is a causal connection between x and y such that there is no possibility of y occurring in the absence of x. In the course of defending this central claim, Dharmakīrti ponders how one can know that there is a causal relationship of the kind necessary to guarantee a proposition of the form “Every y occurs with an x.” He also dismisses an interpretation of his predecessor Dignāga whereby Dignāga would be claiming non-observation of y in the absence of x is sufficient to warrant to the claim that no y occurs without x. The present article consists of a translation of kārikās 11–38 of Pramānavārttikam, svārthānumānaparicchedaḥ along with Dharmakīrti’s own prose commentary. The translators have also provided an English commentary, which includes a detailed introduction to the central issues in the translated text and their history in the literature before Dharmakīrti.


Inference Causation Natural relation Absence Non-apprehension Induction Dharmakīrti Dignāga Īśvarasena Karṇakagomin 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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