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Īśvarasena (580-640) - an Indian Buddhist scholar who, according to tradition, was a student Dignaga and a teacher of Dharmakirti.

Īśvarasena wrote treatises on Dignaga's works; and Dharmakirti in turn analyzed the positions of both Dignaga and Īśvarasena in his own treatises.

Brendan Gillon states:

The earliest classical Indian philosopher thought to have recognized the problem of how one comes to know the truth of a universal statement seems to have been Īśvarasena (Steinkellner 1997 p. 638). He appears to have thought that knowledge of the major premiss is grounded in non-perception (anupalabdhi). That is, according to Īśvarasena, knowledge that whatever has H has S comes from the simple failure to perceive something which has H but which does not have S. (See Steinkellner 1993, where he draws on Steinkellner 1966.)[1]

Tom Tillemans states:

At various key places in the [Pramāṇavārttika] we see that Dharmakīrti seems to have formulated some basic ideas as a reaction to now lost commentaries by Dignāga’s students, the most important being the commentary on the Pramāṇasamuccaya by Īśvarasena. A notable reaction to Īśvarasena is Dharmakīrti’s emphasis on certainty (niścaya)...[2]

Epistemology and Argumentation in South Asia and Tibet states:

The claim that Īśvarasena was a disciple of Dignāga (Schiefner, ed. 1868, Obermiller 1931/1932) is to be taken only as a claim of the tradition (Frauwallner 1961 p. 141). Teacher of Dharmakīrti. Life dates: ca. 580–640. For the legend of his life cf. Obermiller 1931/1932 II p. 152, Schiefner, ed. 1868 p. 176.[3]


  1. Sep-man-red.png Gillon, Brendan ( 2023), Logic in Classical Indian Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  2. Sep-man-red.png Tillemans, Tom ( 2021), Dharmakīrti, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  3. Īśvarasena, Epistemology and Argumentation in South Asia and Tibet