Debate as Practice

Georges B. J. Dreyfus

in The Sound of Two Hands Clapping

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780520232594
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928244 | DOI:
Debate as Practice

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The author's first encounter with Tibetan debates occurred during his stay at Nam-gyel in the spring of 1972, when monks from the three seats gathered in Dharamsala for a special session of debate. Because his Tibetan was then still rather poor and his knowledge of the tradition even more limited, he understood none of the debates. Nevertheless, he was fascinated by these dialectical encounters, which seemed so lively. He enjoyed their intensity and the dramatic atmosphere that surrounded them, an atmosphere that was greatly enhanced by physical gestures and sometimes playful verbal exchanges. The author was also struck by the good humor of these spirited clashes. This chapter examines Tibetan dialectic debate, explains the rules of debate and how they are learned, and considers the apprenticeship of debaters through the study of the Collected Topics. It focuses primarily on Ge-luk education, the tradition that most upholds the value of debate. In addition, the chapter looks at the role of debate in India and Tibet, arguments and consequences in debates, and the physicality of Tibetan debates.

Keywords: dialectical debate; Nam-gyel; apprenticeship; Collected Topics; Ge-luk education; India; Tibet; arguments

Chapter.  15324 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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