Kenneth Dorter

Professor College of Arts Department of Philosophy Guelph, Ontario kdorter@uoguelph.ca Office: (519) 824-4120 ext. 53218

Bio/Research

My current research involves cross-cultural comparisons between Eastern and Western philosophy. Many philosophers speak of the impossibility of giving adequate verbal descriptions of certain kinds of understanding. Inquiry into the foundations of our world and experience often leads beyond what K...

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Bio/Research

My current research involves cross-cultural comparisons between Eastern and Western philosophy. Many philosophers speak of the impossibility of giving adequate verbal descriptions of certain kinds of understanding. Inquiry into the foundations of our world and experience often leads beyond what Kant calls the bounds of any possible sensory experience, and our usual language, which is based on that experience, can be employed only metaphorically. Kant rightly criticizes those who fail to recognize the limitations of this use of language, and who put forward metaphysical theories as dogmas instead of as metaphorical approximations. He also recognized, however, that although we can't have knowledge of these foundational areas, we can have a pre-conceptual awareness of them - in art, beauty, and moral consciousness, for example. A similar kind of pre-conceptual awareness can arise out of comparisons among philosophers. The comparison gives us the opportunity to recognize the experience common to both formulations, independent of either of the sets of concepts through which it was expressed. By comparing not only different philosophers, but philosophers from different cultures and traditions, even the shared presuppositions of philosophers within the same tradition can be minimized. The goal isn't to generate a new set of concepts (and certainly not to eliminate concepts) but to try to let the underlying meaning emerge apart from any particular formulation. My previous books, commentaries on Platonic dialogues, attempted something analogous insofar as they sought to treat Plato's conceptualizations not as doctrines but as instrumental devices to get us to see something for ourselves. The books were attempts to discover the living experience underlying the words.



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Media Relations

Lori Bona Hunt
l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca
519-824-4120 ext. 53338

Kevin Gonsalves
kgonsalves@uoguelph.ca
519-824-4120 ext. 56982