Dignaga (Skt. Dignāga; Tib. ཕྱོགས་ཀྱི་གླང་པོ་, Wyl. phyogs kyi glang po; Tib. chok kyi langpo) (circa 6th century AD) was one of the six great commentators (the ‘Six Ornaments’) on the Buddha’s teachings. He was one of the four great disciples of Vasubandhu who each surpassed their teacher in a particular field. Dignaga was more learned than Vasubandhu in pramāṇa.
His early (extant) works were:
- The Abhidharmakośa-marma-pradīpa - a condensed summary of Vasubandhu's seminal work
- A brief summary of the Aṣṭasāhasrika-prajñāpāramitā sūtra
His remaining works were all pertaining to logic:
- Compendium of Valid Cognition (Pramāṇa-samuccaya), which was a condensation of all these works
- Hattori, Masaaki. Dignāga, On Perception. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1968.
- Hayes, Richard P. Dignāga on the Interpretation of Signs. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer, 1988.
A south Indian monk and scholar who was an indirect student of Vasubandhu. He combined aspects of Yogācāra and Sautrāntika theories of perception with his own innovative logical methodology (pramāṇa).
Based in Orissa, he wrote a number of important works on Abhidharma and pramāṇa, including his highly influential Pramāṇa-samuccaya. This combines many of his earlier insights into a complete system of epistemology.
Also a scholar of Buddhist logic. Born to a Brahman family in southern India, he studied both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. He further developed the ideas of Vasubandhu and established a branch of the Consciousness-Only school that regarded the images stored in the alaya-consciousness as real rather than non-substantial.
Dignaga also contributed to the development of Buddhist logic, advancing a new form of deductive reasoning. His works include The Treatise on the Objects of Cognition, The Treatise on Systems of Cognition, and The Treatise on the Correct Principles of Logic.
He was born into a Brahmin family in Simhavakta (near Kanchi Kanchipuram), and very little is known of his early years, except that he took as his spiritual preceptor Nagadatta of the Vatsiputriya school, before being expelled and becoming a student of Vasubandhu.
Among Dignaga's works there is Hetucakra (The wheel of reason), considered his first work on formal logic, advancing a new form of deductive reasoning. It may be regarded as a bridge between the older doctrine of trairūpya and Dignaga's own later theory of vyapti which is a concept related to the Western notion of implication.
Other works include The Treatise on the Objects of Cognition (Ālambana-parīkṣā), The Treatise on Systems of Cognition (Pramāṇa-samuccaya), and The Treatise on the Correct Principles of Logic (*Nyāya-mukha), produced in an effort to establish what were the valid sources of knowledge.
During Dignāga's time, the Nyaya school of Hinduism had began to hold debates using their 5 step approach to making and evaluating arguments with logic. Buddhist debaters such as Dignāga wanted to engage in these debates, and also have a way to logically evaluate arguments, but a premise such as "all dogs are mammals" proved problematic for his idealist Yogacara philosophy. Dignāga was a student of Vasubandhu, and therefore believed that "the dharmas are empty."
In other words, there are not universal qualities such as "dog-ness" or "mammal-ness."
Such universals would have to be unchanging, and since all things are subject to change and are lacking in essential essence according to his school of philosophy, Dignāga attempted to find a way to engage in argument within the Nyaya structure without positing through the arguments that there is an essential "dog-ness," or what have you.
this move gets off the ground towards his goal, reflection shows that making universal statements about non-mammals still implies that there are mammals who share an essential nature, and everything else, which lacks this "mammal-ness."