Chomsky: Language, Mind and Politics

Chomsky: Language, Mind and Politics

by James McGilvray
     
 

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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)…  See more details below

Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a remarkably comprehensive yet accessible introduction to Chomsky's views about human nature, how to study it, and its various manifestations in language and politics. McGilvray's obvious enthusiasm for the subject is displayed in a text that is stunningly well researched, historically rich, empirically informed, and philosophically engaged throughout."
Paul Pietroski, University of Maryland

"McGilvray has achieved something extraordinary with this compact, accessible and penetrating text. Not only does he insightfully connect Chomsky’s voluminous contributions to current affairs with his equally voluminous work in generative grammar and philosophy of mind and language, he also gets the complex synthesis exactly right. The result is a tour de force. From now on, his is the book on Chomsky that I will direct my students to."
Robert Stainton, University of Western Ontario

"This text highlights Chomsky’s exceptional contribution to the science of language as a biological organ, to the naturalistic theory of mind, and to the view of political systems as means to meet the fundamental needs of humans. McGilvray cleverly evidences Chomsky’s unification of the science of language, human nature and politics."
Anna Maria Di Sciullo, University of Québec at Montréal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780745649894
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
11/18/2013
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


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

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