Chomsky

Chomsky : Language, Mind and Politics

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Description

Noam Chomsky is well known as a linguist and as a political thinker. He is less well known as a philosopher. This is unfortunate, because his philosophical work connects his political views and his work as a scientist of language. His rationalist philosophical views tie common-sense understandings of human action and decision (including political thought and action) to that human mental capacity we call language. The key to Chomsky's overall intellectual project lies in what he has to say about a biologically based human nature. To explain his view of human nature, McGilvray begins by distinguishing common-sense understanding (which includes the domains of economic, social, political and linguistic behaviour) from scientific knowledge of the mind. He then outlines the picture of the mind that underlies the distinction between common sense and science. This picture of the mind is shown to develop from Chomsky's attempt to address some basic observations concerning how language is acquired and used - the "poverty of stimulus" and the "creative aspects of language use". Like some seventeenth-, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century thinkers, Chomsky seeks to account for these observations by producing a rationalist account of human nature. McGilvray then explores the connection between this account of human nature and Chomsky's linguistic and political work. Chomsky's revitalized rationalism has profound implications for both the science of the human mind ('cognitive science') and for an understanding of human action. No responsible individual can afford to ignore it. This book will be of interest to second-year undergraduates and above in linguistics, philosophy, politics and political theory, sociology and social theory.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 25.4mm | 870g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 8 figures, references, bibliography
  • 0745618871
  • 9780745618876

Table of contents

Abbreviations. Introduction. 1. Common Sense and Science. 2. Mapping the Mind. 3. Poverty, Creativity, and Making the World. 4. Languages and the Science of Language. 5. How to Make an Expression. 6. Meanings and Their Use. 7. Anarchosyndicalism and the Responsible Intellectual. 8. Human Nature and Ideal Social Organization. Notes. References. Index.show more

Review quote

'This is the best all around introduction to Chomsky's work that I know of. However, it is far more than an introduction. It is an ambitious synthesis of all parts of Chomsky's views written in a manner accessible to a beginner yet thought provoking for those deeply immersed in Chomskyana. It considers Chomsky's work in the wider context of cultural and classical philosophical views on human nature, knowledge and mind. In addition, McGilvray shuns no part of Chomsky's vast work. He provides accessible and illuminating discussions of both his theoretical work in grammar, his philosophical views on the structure of mind and his political views. I recommend McGilvray's work both to neophytes interested in an introduction to Chomsky's thought and to experts interested in an illuminating discussion of "how it all hangs together."' Professor Norbert Hornstein, University of Maryland 'This well written and insightful book explains accurately Chomsky's ideas about mind, language, and social ideas. Its presentation of key concepts is accessible to laypersons and is informative to the experts as well. Chomsky's key contributions to philosophy and the social sciences are well articulated. The book should be read by the general public, and all philosophers and social scientists.' Professor Julius Moravcsik, Department of Philosophy, University of Stanfordshow more

About James McGilvray

James McGilvray is Associate Professort in the Department of Philosophy, McGill University.show more

Rating details

11 ratings
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