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August 18, 2007


Assaf Weksler

A terrible loss.
Recently I read her paper "varieties of externalism" and it was, to my mind, brilliant and groundbreaking.
I had no idea she was ill.

Assaf (a grad student at Tel Aviv University)


What schok me about her, was his unboundary philosophical scope and breath ranging from legal philosphy, political philosophy to the sciences of the mind, new discoveries in social cognition (e.g. mirror neurons) and theory of action. That wide persptive give to her the ability to merge disparate and apparently different areas of theorizing into a unifying treatment. An example of this it is her book: "Justice, Luck and Knowledge" in which she links mnoral resposibility conceptualizations with theories in distirbutive justice. She was an inspiration for me, from the distance.

Richard Moore

Susan was my PhD supervisor, and those who worked closely with her will know that she was a wonderful and enormously impressive person. It's a tragedy that she did not get the chance to develop more fully the newest layer of her thinking - on social cognition and the possible origins of (personal-level) thought in sub-personal networks controlling perception and action. In conversation, and in her papers in her recent edited volumes on imitation and animal rationality, one could see that she was in the process of developing substantial and original claims about origins of thought and language, in response to difficult questions with which she was gradually coming to terms (in particular, I'm thinking of her attempts to explain the possibility of what John McDowell calls the spontaneity of judgement within the framework of her shared circuits model).

As ever, the challenge to the rest of us will be to build on the work that Susan started.

I will miss her greatly.

Christopher Woodard

Susan was my PhD supervisor, and for a time my colleague at Warwick. It's well-known that she was a brilliant philosopher -- wildly, amazingly synthetic; very original; passionate about philosophy; and inspirational in her enthusiasm. I'd like to add that she was a very warm and generous person, too. I well remember emerging from half-day supervisions with a numb brain but with a much greater understanding of my own ideas (and their predecessors) than I had previously; and her generosity with comments and suggestions continued long after her duties ceased. She was fun, kind, and incredibly energetic. I will always consider myself extremely luck to have been taught by her, and I will miss her greatly.

Richard Moore

"I well remember emerging from half-day supervisions with a numb brain but with a much greater understanding of my own ideas (and their predecessors) than I had previously."

Yeah, those four hour supervision meetings were something else. What astonished me most about them was that, despite complaining of her constantly feeling tired, Susan was well able to conduct them only days after chemotherapy sessions. I don't think it even occured to her that other people couldn't always keep up.

Testament to her formidable intellect and remarkable powers of concentration.

Julian Kiverstein

Over the past couple of years I had the good fortune to work with Susan on putting together a collobarative research project which was funded by the European Science Foundation last year as part of the EUROCOREs project Consciousness in the Natural and Cultural Context. I can only echo the comments above about Susan's immense creativity and genorosity. Not only was she a brilliant philosopher but she also was also extremely knowledgable about social cognition, social psychology, ethology, cognitive neuroscience, and consciousness studies. The work Susan proposed to do as a part of our collaborative project was characteristically bold and ambitious. As an interdisciplinary thinker, she was the real deal.

As a part of our project she promised to extend her shared-circuits account of social cognition to tackle the problem of the explanatory gap. Her exciting idea was that the sensorimotor processes, which her shared-circuits model claims enable intention-reading, might also underlie our capacity for conscious experience. The latter hypothesis is of course the core claim of the Dynamic Sensorimotor account of consciousness she has been developing for the last ten years in her Consciousness in Action and in collaboration with Alva Noe. Susan has been arguing for a long time that to understand practical reason we have to understand social cognition. In addition she has argued that to understand consciousness we have to understand practical reason. The new idea she was just beginning to explore and was to take up in our project CONTACT - Conscioueness in Interaction, was that there might be interesting connections between the mechanisms which enable social cognition and the mechanisms which support conscious experience.

Susan's latest description of her "shared-circuits model" will appear in a forthcoming BBS paper - a call for commentaries is currently live. I hope I have managed to describe something of the richness of Susan's research programme. I am certain that the work she was able to complete will continue to provide inspiration in both philosophy and the mind-sciences for many generations to come.

Alex Morgan

When I was applying to graduate schools, I contacted Susan about the possibility of working with her at Oxford because I found her interdisciplinary approach to philosophical issues inspiring. She was extremely warm, supportive and encouraging, and even after I accepted a PhDship at Rutgers she would occasionally email to inform me of events in her part of the world. Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet her in person.

She will be missed, even by those who only knew her 'virtually'.

Bryony Pierce

Susan was my PhD supervisor at Bristol and I, like Alex, had been attracted by her interdisciplinary approach. This paid off - by our second meeting she had found an extremely useful paper providing empirical support for one of my main arguments. It wasn't just her amazing breadth of knowledge and undoubtedly brilliant intellect that made her a good supervisor, it was also the fact that she really cared about her students' progress, showed as much respect to beginners as to anyone, and was always interested and enthusiastic - although she couldn't see why people thought her so enthusiastic, perhaps because she was so rarely anything but enthusiastic?

I will miss Susan, and will always be endebted to her.

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