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Hi Roberto,

Unfortunately, Prof. Dunne is not active on this forum and I am by no means an expert in Dharmakirti’s philosophy. I’ll attempt to answer as best I can.

Dharmakirti argues that something is real if and only if that entity can have causal efficiency, that is, it must be able to bring about some form of change. From this definition, it follows that any real entity must be changing moment-by-moment, because no entity can produce an effect while remaining unchanged (for a complete proof, see [1]).

Let’s go back to the problem of the “ontology” (mode of existing) in quantum physics, that is: what can we say about a quantum system between measurements? Can we state that it is really “existing”, just somewhere out of our (experimental) sight? If so, how does it exist?

Dharmakirti’s view seems to challenge the idea that there is an unchanging entity (say, an electron) that keeps on existing in a concrete way between measurements. To me, Dharmakirti’s theory invites us to stop thinking about an electron (or any other fundamental particle) as something static, that remains the same throughout all interactions it goes through and keeps on existing in a concrete way between measurements. Instead, we can think of a constantly changing, dynamical entity – more like a field, than a concrete particle. In fact, a modern formulation of quantum mechanics, Quantum Field Theory, treats particles as oscillations in quantum fields (that are therefore in constant change and evolution), rather than concrete and independent entities. Perhaps Dharmakirti would have agreed with this formulation, which unfortunately we could not discuss extensively in the course (if you’d like to read more about it, [2] might be a good place to start).

Regarding the connections between the Yogacara and Madhyamaka schools: Jay Garfield and Jan Westerhoff have edited a collection of essays on this topic [3]. I haven’t read it myself, but it would seem like a very good place to start reading on this topic if you’re interested in academic work. Vol 9 of “The Library of Wisdom and Compassion” by HH Dalai Lama and Ven. Thubten Chodron, “Appearing and Empty”, also contains an excellent (and more accessible) review of the various Buddhist tenets schools. For more information about the Yogachara school, you could also look into “Inside Vasubhandu’s Yogacara” (Ben Connelly).

Hope this helps! Good luck with your studies.

[1] “Dharmakirti”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (
[2] Richard Webb, “What is quantum field theory?” (
[3] Jay Garfield (ed.) and Jan Westerhoff (ed.), “Madhyamaka and Yogācāra: allies or rivals?”, Oxford University Press (2015) (