The term "logico-epistemological tradition of Buddhism" is used to describe a school of thought that deals with the development of theories on the acquisition and justification of knowledge within the framework of Buddhist soteriology; it also defines criteria for the soundness of inferences and proofs. In the more than 800 years of its history in India (ca. 500–1300 CE) this tradition counted a number of significant thinkers among its representatives, and developed a series of influential philosophical and logical theories, in dialogue and discussion with non-Buddhist currents – Brahmanic and Jaina – of the Indian late Middle Ages.

Through the reception of Buddhism in East Asia (China, Japan) and Tibet, the tradition continues there. Within the framework of theories adopted from India, Tibetan thinkers developed specific methods of analysis and above all a special dialectic (rules for debate). Still today this is part of the educational structure of most philosophical schools in Tibet and is one of the keys to understanding Tibetan cultural history.

Many works of this tradition were long considered lost in their original language, Sanskrit, including the major works of the two founding figures Dignāga (ca. 480–540) and Dharmakīrti (mid-6th–mid-7th century); they were only available in Chinese and/or Tibetan translations. Only in the last quarter of the 20th century were Sanskrit manuscripts preserved in Tibetan monasteries found and identified, including those of previously unknown works and thinkers. Within the framework of the Institute's focus on "Sanskrit texts from Tibet", selected texts are being studied on the basis of a co-operation agreement with the China Tibetology Research Center (CTRC) in Beijing. These facilitate the mapping of a key period in the history of Indian philosophy, a period that represents a heyday in Buddhist scholarship.

Authors and Works

The following list gives an overview of the main research being done at the Institute on the logico-epistemological tradition, as well as on related authors and works.