The Limits of the 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:
The Limits of the Inquiry

Show Summary Details


Debate is not only an invaluable pedagogical tool, but also a way of reaching greater understanding. This inquiry required a certain degree of freedom. Although monks debate forcefully in the courtyard on any question relevant to the curriculum, controversies are rare outside this well-circumscribed area of inquiry. Is the freedom necessary to inquiry and experienced by participants in debate largely illusory? This chapter argues that in the Tibetan tradition the freedom to inquire is real but limited. Some of those restrictions are internal, arising from the conceptual system in which debate takes place. Others are external, deriving from the sociopolitical context of Tibetan scholasticism. But more important, it is incorrect to view inquiry and orthodoxy as polar opposites. The sociopolitical influences on Tibetan scholasticism are well illustrated by the story of Ge-dün Chö-pel (1904–1951), a gifted scholar from the province of Amdo in Northeastern Tibet. As the story of Ge-dün Chö-pel illustrates, monastic communities have ways of dealing with dissent and ensuring that it will not threaten institutional stability.

Keywords: debate; inquiry; freedom; monks; curriculum; scholasticism; orthodoxy; Ge-dün Chö-pel; Tibet; dissent

Chapter.  7816 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.