Noam Chomsky is one of the leading intellectual figures of modern times. He has had a major influence on linguistics, psychology and philosophy, and a significant effect on a range of other disciplines from anthropology to mathematics, education to literary criticism. In this rigorous yet accessible account of Chomsky's work and influence, Neil Smith analyses Chomsky's key contributions to the study of language and the study of mind. He gives a detailed and partly historical exposition of Chomsky's linguistic theorizing, and examines the ideas (such as deep and surface structure) for which he is best known. Smith discusses the psychological and philosophical implications of Chomsky's work, and argues that he has fundamentally changed the way we think of ourselves, gaining a position in the history of ideas on a par with that of Darwin or Descartes. Finally, he examines Chomsky's political ideas and how these fit intellectually with his scholarly work. Smith argues that, despite Chomsky's own disavowal of any very close connection, there are fundamental ideas of rationality, creativity and modularity that draw together the disparate strands of his vast output. Throughout, Smith explores the controversy surrounding Chomsky's work, and explains why he has been both adulated and vilifed.
This second edition has been thoroughly updated and revised to account for Chomsky's most recent work, including his continued contributions to linguistics (in particular new developments in the Minimalist Program), his further discussion on evolution, and his extensive work on the events of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The bibliography and notes have been expanded to account for the rapidly growing secondary literature on Chomsky's work, as well as the many new works by Chomsky himself. It will be welcomed by students and researchers across the disciplines of linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science and politics, and anyone with an interest in the impact of Chomsky's work.