Professor David K. Tomlinson
Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy
Villanova University

      ”The Persistence of Habit: Notes on Some Tantric Engagements with Dharmakīrti “

TUESDAY, March 26th, 5PM, Swift 207
The workshop will consist of a presentation followed by discussion and Q&A. Although Professor Tomlinson will read his paper and does not require that participants read it prior to the session, he has kindly made it available here (please email us for password).


Dharmakīrti’s view of yogic perception (yogipratyakṣa) and imaginative cultivation (bhāvanā) has generated a good deal of discussion—in Dharmakīrti’s text-tradition, in the works of its various critics, and in the contemporary study of Buddhist philosophy. It is discussed not infrequently in Buddhist tantric works, too. However, tantric authors’ appeals to yogic perception are at odds with Dharmakīrti’s intentions in important ways. In this paper, I show why this appropriation of Dharmakīrti on yogic perception might be surprising, and then I reveal a tantalizing thread of Dharmakīrtian thinking about imaginative cultivation that nevertheless runs through certain Sanskrit Buddhist tantric debates. What is most crucial about Dharmakīrti for these authors, I argue, is his reasoned defense of cultivation’s power: its capacity to fundamentally and irreversibly transform the practitioner’s cognitive, conative, and experiential habits. I develop this point with reference especially to *Śāntarakṣita’s tantric monograph, the Tattvasiddhi.

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago.


The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop. Please contact Workshop Coordinators Danica Cao ( or Taryn Sue ( in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

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