Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 419–436 | Cite as

On Dharmakīrti’s Notion of Contingency/Dependence, with a Special Focus on vināśa

  • Masamichi Sakai


The concept of contingency is very much debated. In this paper, I’ll offer a novel interpretation of it in Dharmakīrti’s ontology, focusing on his treatment and understanding of vināśa (translation: perishing) which is, according to Dharmakīrti, not contingent and thus occurs necessarily to everything. I will do so by clarifying some important terms, motivating and explaining Dharmakīrti’s position, and analyzing firsthand some Dharmakīrtian debate excerpts with Nyāya and/or Vaiśeṣika philosophers as the main opponents. In the course of this, I will show that basically, for Dharmakīrti, contingency is tantamount to dependency, whereas Nyāya and/or Vaiśeṣika authors, e.g., Śrīdhara and Bhāsarvajña, claim that something can be dependent on something else and still be necessary.


Contingency Dependence Necessity vināśa Dharmakīrti Śrīdhara Bhāsarvajña 


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The basis of the present article is a paper read at the workshop on Buddhist Philosophy themed “Chance and Contingency” held at Yale University on May 13–14, 2017. My cordial gratitude goes at first to Prof. Phyllis Granoff (Yale University), the convener of the workshop, for giving me many valuable comments and suggestions during and after the workshop, which enabled me to polish up this article as a whole. I would also like to thank Prof. Kei Kataoka (Kyūshū University) who helped me with reading several difficult passages of Dharmakīrti. Last but not least, I would like to thank Dr. Elisa Freschi (Austrian Academy of Sciences) for reading the first version of the paper and giving me many insightful remarks. Of course, all shortcomings are my own. The writing of this article was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 17K18249.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the History of Religions, Faculty of LettersKansai UniversityOsakaJapan

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