The Department of Philosophy is saddened to announce that Emeritus Professor Karl Potter has passed away. Karl joined the Department of Philosophy and the Far Eastern and Russian Institute in 1970, then associated with South Asian Studies. He served as chair of the department from 1986-90 and officially retired in 1997, though he continued to teach for some years afterward. Prior to joining the department, he taught at the University of Minnesota from 1956-70. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1955, and his B.A. from Berkeley in 1950.
Karl’s research focused primarily on Indian philosophy at a time when very few philosophers in the US had expertise in the area. At UW, Karl taught a series of courses in Indian philosophy and Sanskrit, in addition to more usual topics in analytic philosophy. He undertook a huge project called the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies; the final volume (out of 25) was finally completed in 2019. In 2011, Karl was awarded the Padma Shri Award in Literature and Education by the government of India for his work on the Encyclopedia.
As our department works to broaden the philosophical landscape that we offer to the university, our students, and the profession, it is striking–and inspiring–to see the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of Karl Potter’s teaching and scholarship.
We offer condolences to Professor Potter's family and loved ones.