TALK> Different Moon same finger: Tsong kha pa and Mi pham’s application of Dharmakīrti’s pramāṇa theory, Jacob Fisher in conversation with Prof. Stéphane Arguillère

Chandra Chiara Ehm Discussion

On  Monday, June 5, 6:30 pm Paris time, the French Society for Tibetan Studies (SFEMT) will have the pleasure of hosting:

Jacob Fisher (University of Oxford) in conversation with Stéphane Arguillère (INALCO)
for a talk entitled

Different Moon same finger: Tsong kha pa and Mi pham’s application of Dharmakīrti’s pramāṇa theory


Conference abstract :
For the Mādhyamika, one may assume that the dialectical and contemplative approaches to the realisation of emptiness are a happy union. A clear and defendable presentation of reality and the epistemic tools required for its realisation, it is often argued, will aid meditative training.  This paper examines Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) and Mipham Gyatso’s (1846- 1912)  use of Dharmakīrti’s pramāṇa theory for analytical meditation on emptiness.  From their different readings of Madhyamaka, Mipham and Tsongkhapa do appear to disagree about the nature of emptiness. However, both follow Dharmakīrti’s analytical and gradual approach to generating a pramāṇa realising ultimate truth, and the defining characteristics of pramāṇa in general, and specifically yogic direct perception. This paper highlights that although these authors disagree about the nature of the ultimate, they are surprisingly uniform in terms of their practical instructions on how to gradually realise it. Noteworthy is that both underscore the importance of unifying the realisations of emptiness and dependent arising through nearly indistinguishable analytical contemplations, and, at the point of meditative equipoise on emptiness (as long as the certainty has not waned) one no longer need conceptually affirm nor negate anything. As such, it is suggested that despite more surface-level distinctions, perhaps in the final analysis their views of emptiness are not all that different.

About the speakers:
Jacob Fisher is a DPhil Candidate at the University of Oxford. Prior to this, between 2008- 2013, he completed the Masters Programme in Buddhist Studies of Sutra and Tantra, a full-time traditionally orientated study programme based on the Tibetan Geshe degree, at Instituto Lama Tsongkhapa Italy. He then spent five years teaching the programme in Nalanda Monastery, France. He then completed an MSt in Oriental Studies (Tibetan) at the University of Oxford. His current research focuses on Indian and Tibetan Buddhist epistemology, specifically on how Indian śāstra literature and their Tibetan commentaries resolve the problem of perceptual relativism. 

Stéphane Arguillère is a professor of Tibetan language at the Inalco in Paris. He is an agrégé professor of philosophy and the scientific coordinator of the ANR-funded research project « For a Critical History of the Northern Treasures ». Among his publications, directly relevant to the topic discussed, are his translations of Mipham’s commentary on the 9th chapter of the Bodhicāryāvatāra and Gorampa’s lTa ba’i shan ’byed.

The conference will be in English, at Inalco in Paris and via Zoom. 

For more information (abstract and Zoom link), please see:

Best regards,

Chandra Chiara Ehm 
(pp SFEMT)