Perceptual Judgment Exemplified: Diṅṅāga, Praśastapāda, and the Grammarians

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Victoria Lysenko


The article deals with the structure and function of perceptual judgment in the perception theories of the Buddhist Diṅṅāga (c. 480–540 CE) and the Vaiśeṣika Praśastapāda (c. sixth century CE). I show their indebtedness to the Vyākaraṇa tradition and particularly to Patañjali (second century BCE). Following Shōryū Katsura’s idea that the status of perceptual judgment with regard to the Buddhist system of instruments of valid cognition (pramāṇa) was first established by Dharmakīrti (600-660 CE), I argue that Diṅṅāga’s examples in his definition of perception in Pramāṇasamuccaya-vṛtti I,3d could be considered as perceptual judgments in the sense of Charles Peirce (“The first judgement of a person as to what is before his senses”). After the examination of Diṅṅāga’s and Praśastapāda’s examples of perceptual judgments, I come to the conclusion that Diṅṅāga, as a nominalist, sees in them an expression of ordinary linguistic behaviour (lokavyavahāra) shaped by convention and grammatical tradition (Vyākaraṇa), while Praśastapāda, as a realist, seeks to show that perceptual judgments follow the Vaiśeṣika ontological categories. If in Diṅṅāga’s epistemology perceptual judgement remains outside the pramāṇa system (its status is simply not defined), in Praśastapāda’s Vaiśeṣika it pertains to the pramāṇa of perception (pratyakṣa).

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How to Cite
Lysenko, V. (2019). Perceptual Judgment Exemplified: Diṅṅāga, Praśastapāda, and the Grammarians. Journal of World Philosophies, 4(2), 8-21. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Victoria Lysenko

Victoria Lysenko, D.Sc. in Philosophy (Institute of Philosophy, RAS, 1998), Indologist and Buddhologist, is chief researcher at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, where she started to work in 1990. Victoria Lysenko’s philosophical concerns focus on Indian and intercultural approaches to the problems of philosophical thinking. She elaborated the concept of atomistic mode of thinking, and on its basis she has proposed a linguistic hypothesis on the origins of atomism in Indian and Western civilizations. During the last 15 years, she has been studying Indian epistemology of perception (pratyaka) as debated by classical Buddhist and Brahmanic philosophers, and compares them with some contemporary issues in Western philosophy of consciousness. She based this research on her translations into Russian of original Sanskrit texts. For the project of Anthology of Sanskrit epistemological texts on perception she has become a 2019 grantee of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies.

            Her current academic activity is connected with her attempts to introduce—through intercultural or cross-cultural philosophical discourse—Indian and especially Buddhist philosophy into the curriculum of the contemporary consciousness studies in Russian philosophy and neuroscience. She contributed to the organization and development of the project “Fundamental Knowledge,” dedicated to the dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Russian scientists. See:

            She was a visiting professor at UGC (Delhi, Benares, Pune), 2005; Jadavpur University, Kolkata, 2006; Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 2008, 2011; Vilnius 2011. She published seven books in Russian, one in English coauthored with Michel Hulin, and around 300 papers in Russian, English, and French. For her bibliography and some of her papers see: