The Science of Language: Interviews with James McGilvray

The Science of Language: Interviews with James McGilvray

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By (author) Noam Chomsky, Compiled by James McGilvray

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 328 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 224mm x 18mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 30 April 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 1107602408
  • ISBN 13: 9781107602403
  • Sales rank: 121,547

Product description

Noam Chomsky is one of the most influential thinkers of our time, yet his views are often misunderstood. In this previously unpublished series of interviews, Chomsky discusses his iconoclastic and important ideas concerning language, human nature and politics. In dialogue with James McGilvray, Professor of Philosophy at McGill University, Chomsky takes up a wide variety of topics - the nature of language, the philosophies of language and mind, morality and universality, science and common sense, and the evolution of language. McGilvray's extensive commentary helps make this incisive set of interviews accessible to a variety of readers. The volume is essential reading for those involved in the study of language and mind, as well as anyone with an interest in Chomsky's ideas.

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Author information

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. James McGilvray is Professor of Philosophy at McGill University, Montreal. He has written a general introduction to Chomsky's work (Chomsky, 1999) and edited and contributed to The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky (2005) and the second (2002) and third (2009) editions of Chomsky's seminal Cartesian Linguistics (Cambridge University Press). He has also published several articles on the philosophies of language and mind that defend in various ways the methods for the study of language and mind developed and endorsed by Chomsky and other internalist 'biolinguists'.

Review quote

'This clear and relaxed conversation, illuminating for specialists and newcomers, locates Chomsky's linguistics within his larger conception of human inquiry. McGilvray asks the right questions and offers helpful editorial supplements.' Paul M. Pietroski, University of Maryland 'Noam Chomsky has long been recognized as a founding genius of modern linguistics. These compelling and carefully organized interviews illustrate why ... The book is truly exceptional in affording an accessible and readable introduction to Chomsky's broad-based and cutting-edge theorizing. A must-read!' Robert J. Stainton, University of Western Ontario 'An indispensable presentation, in engaging interview form, of Noam Chomsky's evolving ideas about the scientific investigation of language and human nature, with illuminating explication by interviewer James McGilvray.' Howard Lasnik, University of Maryland 'By bringing the two sides of Chomsky's career together in ways that his specialist works have eschewed, the conversations recorded in (this book) remind us that the 'Chomsky problem' is no individual foible, but the deepest ideological contradiction of our age.' The Times Literary Supplement

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. The Science of Language and Mind: 1. Language, function, communication: language and the use of language; 2. On a formal theory of language and its accommodation to biology. The distinctive nature of human concepts; 3. Representation and computation; 4. More on human concepts; 5. Reflections on the study of language; 6. Parameters, canalization, innateness, universal grammar; 7. Development, master/control genes, etc.; 8. Perfection and design (interview 20 January 2009); 9. Universal grammar and simplicity; 10. On some intellectual ailments of scientists; 11. The place of language in the mind; 12. Chomsky's intellectual contributions; 13. Simplicity and its role in Chomsky's work; 14. Chomsky and Nelson Goodman; Part II. Human Nature and its Study: 15. Chomsky on human nature and human understanding; 16. Human nature and evolution: thoughts on sociobiology and evolutionary psychology; 17. Human nature again; 18. Morality and universalization; 19. Optimism and grounds for it; 20. Language, agency, common sense, and science; 21. Philosophers and their roles; 22. Biophysical limitations on understanding; 23. Epistemology and biological limits; 24. Studies of mind and behavior and their limitations; 25. Linguistics and politics.