Argumentation

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 43–58

What is Debate for? The Rationality of Tibetan Debates and the Role of Humor

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10503-007-9079-2

Cite this article as:
Dreyfus, G.B. Argumentation (2008) 22: 43. doi:10.1007/s10503-007-9079-2

Abstract

In this essay, I examine the mode of operation and aim of debates in the Tibetan Buddhist traditions. I contrast the probative form of argument that was privileged by the Indian tradition to the more agonic practice favored by Tibetan scholastics. I also examine the rules that preside over this dialectical practice, which is seen by the Tibetan tradition as essential to a proper scholastic education. I argue, however, that the practice of debates cannot be reduced to this dialectical model, for it has an important performative aspect not easily encompassed by the rules. I examine this aspect of Tibetan debates, focusing particularly on the role of humor. I conclude with a few remarks on the type of rationality entailed by the importance of humor and of other rhetorical elements involved in Tibetan debates.

Keywords

Debate Tibetan Buddhism Rationality Humor Dialectics 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ReligionWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA

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