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Title:Argumentation and Understanding: A Study of Tibetan Religious Debate
Author(s):Goldberg, Margaret Ellen
Department / Program:Anthropology
Discipline:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations
Abstract:This thesis investigates the question of how individuals interpret formal religious doctrines. It does so by examining the way Tibetan monastic students and teachers use traditional methods of debate of the dGe lugs pa sect to interpret Buddhist scriptures. The fieldwork for this study was done with Tibetan refugees in Nepal, India, and the United States.
A dGe lugs pa debate uses speakers in two roles, questioner and answerer. In a debate the answerer constructs a public model of a portion of his belief system where his verbal commitment to a proposition is taken to represent belief in that proposition. The questioner initiates topics and requests commitments about them from the answerer, who is required to comply and may not introject additional information. The usual object of a debate is for the questioner to elicit an incorrect commitment from the answerer and then force him to explicitly change that commitment.
Tibetan debate is a method of analysis used to interpret Buddhist scriptures. The scriptures themselves are obscure. The dGe lugs pa interpretation of a passage of scripture consists of parts performing one or more of five main functions: (1) assignment of an intelligible gloss to the passage; (2) assignment of elaborations on the gloss; (3) justification that the gloss and elaborations are the actual meaning of the passage; (4) justification that the gloss and elaborations are true; and (5) justification that the expositional style of the passage is appropriate for conveying its meaning.
The most striking feature of Tibetan debate, both as a form of religious practice and as a form of argumentation, is its paucity of symbolism. In terms of Tibetan Buddhist religious practice, this enables debate to serve as an emotion defusing ritual capable of establishing the soteriologically necessary knowledge of Emptiness. In terms of argumentation, the format of Tibetan debate serves to diffuse emotions produced by identity symbolism in discourse, so that debate tends to produce stable, well thought out beliefs. This study suggests the general conclusion that at a moment to moment level informants can clearly express beliefs and affects which occur during discourse; and those beliefs and affects follow patterns.
Issue Date:1985
Type:Text
Description:988 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/70691
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8521770
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1985


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