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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 July 2021

Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?

Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?

(p.267) 12 Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?
The Sound of Two Hands Clapping

Georges B. J. Dreyfus

University of California Press

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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