A Note of Remembrance

In mid-August, we lost a brilliant and multifaceted philosopher-lawyer-scientist and a warm and fascinating human being, Susan Hurley. She died young and brimming with ideas. Her interests ranged from cognitive architecture to constitutional law and from enactive perception to political action. Her book titles illustrate only some of this diversity:

Natural Reasons: Personality and Polity
Consciousness in Action
Justice, Luck and Knowledge

Many readers of this blog will know something of Hurley’s influential 1998 book, Consciousness in Action, a critique of what she calls the “classical sandwich” conception of the mind, which portrays cognition as the interface between perception and action. There is a multiple review of the book in Mind & Language, Volume 15 Issue 5 (November 2000).

More recently, Hurley came to think that a common subpersonal functional architecture may underlie imitation, social mirroring, and simulation. She elaborates and defends this bold hypothesis in a major paper that will at last, after years of serial revisions, come to light in BBS, with commentaries: “The shared circuits model: How control, mirroring, and simulation can enable imitation, deliberation, and mindreading.” Although it’s a complex and difficult article, it offers what I think is an enlightening and extremely well-informed synthesis of recent work on these topics.

Although brilliance and breadth are evident on every page, what her paper does not convey, unfortunately, is the sparkle and energy that drove her thought. That you had to hear and see in person.