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The Sound of Two Hands ClappingThe Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk$
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Georges B.J. Dreyfus

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520232594

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520232594.001.0001

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Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?

Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?

Chapter:
(p.267) 12 Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?
Source:
The Sound of Two Hands Clapping
Author(s):

Georges B. J. Dreyfus

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520232594.003.0013

This chapter explores Tibetan debate and considers whether it is merely an exercise to validate a pregiven truth, or whether it represents a genuine avenue of inquiry. It discusses the different answers existing within the Ge-luk tradition: whereas some view debate as a pedagogical tool helping students to internalize a party line, others regard it as a practice of inquiry that promotes critical thinking, a quality not usually associated with scholasticism. Tibetan debates do more than provide a training in questioning, important as that function is. They also highlight the nature of interpretation and the scope of questioning within Tibetan scholastic traditions. In Tibetan Buddhism, a critical dimension often runs against limitations imposed by the tradition. It is particularly prominent among Ge-luk scholars, who are devoted to debate. The value put on critical inquiry by a figure such as Gen Nyi-ma might seem surprising, especially given the role of faith in scholasticism. This chapter also focuses on Madhyamaka within the Ge-luk tradition, as well as Gen Nyi-ma's approach to Madhyamaka.

Keywords:   debate, inquiry, questioning, scholasticism, Madhyamaka, Ge-luk, Gen Nyi-ma, Buddhism

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