Peter Kim Schotch

Passed 12/22/2022


Obituary For Peter Kim Schotch

Peter Kim Schotch, born July 26, 1946, in Montreal, Quebec, died peacefully at home in Brookside, Nova Scotia, on December 22, 2022. The family extends their deepest gratitude to each and every doctor, nurse, caregiver, and staff at Nurse Next Door, Palliative Care, and the VON for their tremendous care and kindness to Peter and his family.

Dr. Schotch was a loving and supportive husband and father. He also had a lifelong academic career. In 1972 he was hired by the Philosophy Department at Dalhousie University and only fully retired in 2019. At the end of his time at Dalhousie he had reached the rank of full professor and was the Munro Chair of Metaphysics. Most notably he, along with his long-time collaborator Ray Jennings of Simon Fraser University, made such contributions to the field of logic that the national logic prize for Canada was named the “Schotch-Jennings Logic Prize.”

As a professor at Dalhousie, he was known by the student body not only for teaching existentialism and logic, but also for his fashion choices. He liked ascots, hats, kilts, and Austrian formal wear.

He is survived by his wife Suzanne Townsend, as well as his former wife Brigitte and their daughter Heidi, his son-in-law Stephen Riley, his stepson Ames Esler, and the numerous students he mentored over the years. He is predeceased by his second wife, Cara.

He was an eccentric and fun-loving man with a wonderful sense of humour. He was a patient and supportive guiding force to his family, big-hearted and encouraging. He is greatly missed.

No service, by request.

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  • 01/18/2023

    I met Peter more than 40 years ago when I had a one year job in the Philosophy Department. Two memories are still vivid. Wit: Peter was extraordinarily funny. Racket ball: Peter beat me most of the time, which was not so funny.

  • 01/11/2023

    I was an undergraduate student of professor Schotch's a few years back. He was one of the most down-to-earth professors I've ever had. I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope there's some comfort in knowing the impact he's had on so many people.

  • 01/10/2023

    It is hard for me to accept that my friend and colleague in the Dalhousie Philosophy Department is gone. He will not be forgotten. I will greatly miss Peter Schotch, his brilliance and wonderful sense of humor. I have known Peter for more than 55 years. When I moved to Canada, in 1965, Peter was already at the University of Waterloo. It was in the coffee shop, between classes, that I got to know him, share stories and laughs, and came to appreciate his unmatched wit. At the time I had a half-serious goal of writing a novel. I thought that in-jokes were underappreciated art form, and that it was a shame that they could not be widely shared (for logical reasons, as Peter pointed out). My plan was to get around this difficulty by constructing a novel in a way that embeds in-jokes and their extrapolations as it moves forward. Peter responded: "It's already been done," referring to Flann O' Brian's At Swim Two Birds. This was at once, my introduction to Peter's favorite Irish authors (Brian O'Nolan, Spike Milligan) and the end of my imagined career as a novelist. It also began a friendship that lasted a lifetime, even though our philosophical interests diverged quite widely. Fourteen years later, as chair of the Philosophy Department - in 1980 - Peter was instrumental in bringing me out of the sabbatical replacement circuit to Dalhousie for an interview for a tenure track job. I presented a paper defending Descartes' claim "That we have a free will," which he took to be as certain as the cogito (I think; therefor I am). Just as I was running out of responses to the questions my paper inspired there was pounding on the door of the old house that served (very well!) as the base camp for Philosophy. If memory serves me, the exchange that occurred when one of the profs opened the door went something like this: Terry Tomkow (from the hall): "There's a person here who says she is looking for God" (possible translation: looking for the Religious Studies department). Peter Schotch: "Tell her He's busy in here answering objections," and to my relief, announced that it would be best if we resumed the discussion over beer at the Jury Room downtown. I (and all the faculty at Dal) owe Peter an enormous debt for his long hours and perseverance in securing for us a better deal (in many negotiations) with the university, whose negotiators treated those of us on the front lines of teaching and research as if we were the enemy. Peter worked with the Faculty Association, not only as President but also as chief negotiator and member of the team. He has made a difference not only to the salaries and pensions that we enjoy but also the conditions of our work. His loyalty to the causes we fought was unparalleled. My wife Anne and I spent an afternoon with Peter and Suzanne this July. At that time, he seemed to be doing well in his recovery from kidney stones and from the very serious infection that was caused by his treatment for that. I thought that Peter was on the mend after this health crisis. I would guess that he thought so too, from what he was saying on that lovely afternoon when he prepared high tea for us, with exquisitely crafted cucumber sandwiches and many other treats. He was working on a book entitled simply Life when I talked with him that summer day. I don't know how far he got with it. I had assumed that we would continue our conversation about this project when we next got together. But that was not to be. Peter's partner, Suzanne, worked tirelessly to see that Peter's last days were as comfortable and as meaningful as possible under the circumstances. I want to express my profound gratitude to her along with my condolences.

  • 01/06/2023

    When I look back upon my time in the Dalhousie Philosophy department (1990-1995), I cannot help but have fond memories of numerous interactions with Peter Schotch. I will not forget his bone dry sense of humor or his getting all of the grad students out to hear Max Cresswell at 9:00 AM on a Saturday morning. Peter was not a man who was afraid to attend the Friday Colloquium in full lederhosen costume. My only regret was not advising him to quit dying his hair in my last days at Dalhousie. But even that was a characteristically Peter thing to do; unique as always. Farewell my Friend, my Teacher.

  • 01/03/2023

    I am so sorry to hear of Peter's passing. I remember his kindness and generosity. A term never passed without a gift of chocolate or a lunch for myself and my colleague. My condolences to Peter's family.

  • 01/02/2023

    Peter was my mentor in many ways -- as a logician, as an academic, and as a free thinker. Anecdotes from my own days TAing for Peter enrich my logic classes and each year, when I introduce the course with a brief history of logic slide show of the most significant logicians, the final slide is of Peter lounging in his fauteuil at Dal. Thank you Peter. You will live on in my memory. Nancy Salay

  • 12/29/2022

    In 1974, I embarked on my first year of university at Dalhousie University. I signed up for an Intro Philosophy course taught by Dr. Schotch. Although I was accepted as a Business student, I was immediately hooked on Logic. I transferred to the Arts program and completed by Honours degree under the supervision of Dr. Schotch. I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with him. He was passionate and humorous, at the same time. Obviously he made a great impression on me, as here it is almost 50 years later, and I still have such great memories.

  • 12/29/2022

    I had the honor of knowing Peter for a short period of time. He was one of the most kindest person that I ever met. Peter had a large heart and loved to mentor business owners. He will be greatly missed by our family.

  • 12/28/2022

    Peter ("The Professor" as many called him) and I were business partners and friends. We were a very unlikely pair, with him being a philosopher and me being an engineer.  Naturally, we brought very different skill sets and perspectives to the table, which always made for interesting discussions. We shared a love of food (in the sense that he liked to cook and I loved his cooking) and enjoyed many meetings over a meal at his dining room table. I loved his stories of his travels, his time teaching at Dal and the philosophical conversation that I couldn't keep up with. One of the things that I found very special about Peter was his respect for women. He felt that women were undervalued in the business world so much so that he established a women's caucus for our company. His vision was to have the women come together and drive the business forward. These meetings resulted in us women having full bellies and productive discussions. Peter was always there to correct my grammar and make the world's best pavlova. Peter had a very kind heart and went out of his way to help people. He made a huge impact on many of us.  He will be sorely missed. Sincere condolences Suzanne and Heidi.

  • 12/28/2022

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Peter Schotch. He was always kind and considerate to me when I worked as the administrator in the Department of Philosophy. He would often take myself and my co-worker out to lunch in appreciation of our work. I recently retired and Peter showed up to the retirement party which was so wonderful, as I hadn't seen him since he had retired in 2019. It was indeed a great pleasure to know Peter, and I thank him for all his kindness

  • 12/28/2022

    Oh my goodness. I just read this and I am feeling so sorry for your loss Suzanne. Peter was a lovely man and I enjoyed any time I got to interact with him. Had no idea he was this sick. Sending heartfelt condolences to you and his family from your Neighbours, Holly, Pat, Jason and Jj Schelleman.

  • 12/27/2022

    I have been an existentialist since learning about it in high school, and I am sorry that the one time I met him that David got most of the time with him. Probably the only time I regret spending blathering about plants. When you feel like it, come back to the Island for a visit, and we will figure out where to plant some trees in his honor...native ones, of course. Sending love and hugs my dear friend...I am sure he would want us all to dance on the edge of the abyss.

  • 12/27/2022

    Suzanne suggested sharing a portion of an email I sent Peter in mid-December (and which Suzanne kindly read to him). Here it is. "I've not taken anywhere near enough opportunities to let you know how much you've positively impacted me as a philosopher and academic (any failings are my own). Anytime I need to discuss logic, epistemology, or just maintaining a non-grandiose perspective on what we do as philosophers, you're foremost in my mind. I'll never match your style - neither in clothing nor in thought - but you are often there, whether I'm at the front of the class and logic or epistemology comes up or trying to write a paper on chimpanzee epistemic agency. I'm not sure where I'll end up with that last one. I confess that I remain terrified of meta-logic. I derive comfort from the way that you talked about it in Philosophy colloquia, confident that we could follow your claims and arguments and remarkably patient with us when our questions would often evidence that we hadn't kept up. If you're rolling your eyes, note that I didn't say 'patient' without qualification. By the by, we still meet on occasion with some past Dal graduates (Sylvia Burrow, Marc Ramsay, Jason Holt) for risk-free poker ($5 buy-in for the night) and you still enjoy legendary status. I believe that we continue to hold on to a $20 bill that you 'donated' to the 'bank.'"


  • 8 TREES

    Dalhousie Faculty Association planted 8 trees in memory of Peter Kim Schotch . - 02/01/2023

  • 2 TREES

    Dalhousie Philosophy Department planted 2 trees in memory of Peter Kim Schotch . - 01/02/2023

  • 2 TREES

    Em Hamilton planted 2 trees in memory of Peter Kim Schotch . - 12/27/2022

  • 2 TREES

    Carmen & Tom Vinci planted 2 trees in memory of Peter Kim Schotch . - 12/27/2022

  • 2 TREES

    Suzanne planted 2 trees in memory of Peter Kim Schotch . - 12/27/2022

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