Tibetan Buddhist scholar-monks have long engaged in face-to-face public philosophical debates. This original study challenges Orientalist text-based scholarship, which has missed these lived practices of Tibetan dialectics. Kenneth Liberman brings these dynamic disputations to life for the modern reader through a richly detailed, turn-by-turn analysis of the monks' formal philosophical reasoning. He argues that Tibetan Buddhists deliberately organize their debates into formal structures that both empower and constrain thinking, skillfully using logic as an interactional tool to organize their reflections. This careful investigation of the formal philosophical work of Tibetan scholars is a pathbreaking analysis of an important classical tradition. An accompanying website that offers examples of debating strategies, videos of actual debates (with English translations), and an interactive debate can be found at http://www.thdl.org/DebateTutorials/.
Kenneth Liberman is professor of sociology at the University of Oregon.
Part I: Postcolonial Inquiry into Tibetan Dialectics Chapter 1: Orientalism and Tibetological Praxis Chapter 2: Ethnomethodology and the Retrieval of Ordinary Society Chapter 3: The Organization of Reason in Tibetan Philosophical Debating Part II: Philosophical Praxis in the Tibetan Academy Chapter 4: Organizing the Objectivity of the Discourse: Dialectics and Communication Chapter 5: Reason as a Public Activity Chapter 6: Rhymes and Reason: Reason as the In Vivo, Concerted Work of Tibetan Philosophers Chapter 7: Strategies in Tibetan Philosophical Debates Part III: A Sociology of Reasoning Chapter 8: Using Reasons: Capabilities of Formal Analysis Chapter 9: Some Formal Analytic Betrayals of Philosophy