Chomsky : Language, Mind, and Politics

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The key to Chomskya s overall intellectual project lies in what he has to say about a biologically based human nature.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 162 x 226 x 21mm | 434g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 074561888X
  • 9780745618883
  • 2,352,538

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Back cover copy

Noam Chomsky is well known as a linguist and as a politicalthinker. He is less well known as a philosopher. Yet hisrationalist philosophy ties common-sense understandings of humanaction and decision (including political thought and action) tothat human mental capacity we call language.

The key to Chomsky's overall intellectual project lies inwhat he has to say about a biologically based human nature.McGilvray explains Chomsky's view of human nature in thefirst three chapters. He begins by distinguishing common-senseunderstanding from scientific knowledge. He then outlines thescientific picture of the mind that Chomsky favours. Finally, byappealing to basic observations concerning how language is acquiredand used, McGilvray shows why Chomsky adopts the view he does. Thelast five chapters outline Chomsky's linguistic and politicalviews and, by appeal to his biological-rationalist conception ofhuman nature, explore the connections between them.

Chomsky's revitalized rationalism has profoundimplications for both the science of the human mind('cognitive science') and for an understanding of humanaction. No responsible individual can afford to ignore it.
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Table of contents

Abbreviations. Acknowledgments. 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.
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Review Text

Noam Chomsky is well known as a linguist and political thinker, but less well known as a philosopher. In this work, McGilvray explains Noam Chomsky's rationalist view of human nature. He explores the connection between this account of human nature and Chomsky's linguistic and political work.
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Review quote

a This is the best all around introduction to Chomskya s work that I know of. However, it is far more than an introduction. It is an ambitious synthesis of all parts of Chomskya s views written in a manner accessible to a beginner yet thought provoking for those deeply immersed in Chomskyana. It considers Chomskya 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 Chomskya 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 McGilvraya s work both to neophytes interested in an introduction to Chomskya s thought and to experts interested in an illuminating discussion of "how it all hangs together".a Professor Norbert Hornstein, University of Maryland a This well written and insightful book explains accurately Chomskya 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. Chomskya 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.a Professor Julius Moravcsik, Department of Philosophy, University of Stanford
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About James McGilvray

James McGilvray is Associate Professort in the Department of Philosophy, McGill University.
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Rating details

10 ratings
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3 20% (2)
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1 0% (0)
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