Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?

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:
Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?

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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

Chapter.  11292 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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