New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind / Edition 1

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Overview

This book is an outstanding contribution to the philosophical study of language and mind, by one of the most influential thinkers of our time. In a series of penetrating essays, Chomsky cuts through the confusion and prejudice that has infected the study of language and mind, bringing new solutions to traditional philosophical puzzles and fresh perspectives on issues of general interest, ranging from the mind-body problem to the unification of science. Using a range of imaginative and deceptively simple linguistic analyses, Chomsky defends the view that knowledge of language is internal to the human mind. He argues that a proper study of language must deal with this mental construct. According to Chomsky, therefore, human language is a "biological object" and should be analyzed using the methodology of the sciences. His examples and analyses come together in this book to give a unique and compelling perspective on language and the mind.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
Back when there were pinball machines, there was also a mechanical game called Whack-A-Mole. The playing field was a flat surface a couple of feet square with holes in it. Eponymous mole surrogates stuck their heads out briefly and at random. The player, equipped with a small mallet, attempted to whack each mole as it appeared. As one became increasingly proficient, the exposure time per mole decreased. Very advanced players might get two or three moles at once to whack: Mole-mole-mole, whack-whack-whack. It was fun to play but hard on the moles and, from a spectator's point of view, perhaps a little repetitious. Chomsky's new book vividly recalls that diversion. It collects a batch of his essays, mostly previously published, and all constructed to much the same plan: some philosopher sticks his head out of a hole, and Chomsky whacks him. Quine, whack! Davidson, whack! Dummett, whack! Searle, Dennett, Burge, Putnam, whack, whack, whack, whack! The chapters overlap a lot, and more than once Chomsky repeats himself verbatim. One misses an editor's skilled hand. Still, this is a very important book; not just because a lot of what it says is true, but also because Chomsky is a very important thinker. My own view (arguably hyperbolic, but I doubt it) is that pretty much everything that matters about the cognitive mind that we have learned in the last fifty years or so was taught us either by Chomsky or by Turing. The computational psychology that they pioneered is, I believe, the part of our cognitive science that is most likely to last; and generative linguistics, as it has developed under Chomsky's tutelage, is as close to a successful theory of a cognitive capacity as any science has got so far. The first thing one wants to say about Chomsky is how much we are in his debt. . . .
From the Publisher
"What is impressive about Chomsky's writing is not just its awesome breadth and remarkable scope, but that after half a century he still has the power to surprise: from the observation that human beings are not a natural kind to the importance of Japanese for the analysis of English; from the rejection of his celebrated invention 'deep structure' to the conjecture that language, despite its biological nature, may be close to perfection; from the tension between common sense and science to the implications of what we know about a brown house or a cup of tea. Everything combines to give a unique and compelling view of language and mind." From the Foreword

"...this is a very important book; not just because a lot of what it says is true, but also because Chomsky is a very important thinker." Jerry Fodor, The Times Literary Supplement

"Highly recommended for all programs supporting a philosophy major or related work in linguistics and cognitive science." Choice

"The essays are difficult, dense, and tremendously rewarding for the persevering reader." Virginia Quarterly Review

"At a time when various embarrassingly incompetent accounts of language are widespread in university humanities departments under such names as 'literary theory,' 'deconstruction,' and 'postmodernism' it is worth emphasizing that [Chomsky's] work in linguistics is at the highest intellectual level." The New York Review of Books

"Alltogether, the book is a selection of very readable writings, and it certainly holds surprises for the psychologist who thinks that 'we' have abandoned Chomskyian linguistics rightly in the 1950's. The book shows why 'we' should not have - if only because of the quality of the argumentation one always finds in Chomsky's writings." Theory and Psychology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521658225
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 1,425,471
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword by Neil Smith; Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. New horizons in the study of language; 2. Explaining language use; 3. Language and interpretation: philosophical reflections and empirical inquiry; 4. Naturalism and dualism in the study of language and mind; 5. Language as a natural object; 6. Language from an internalist perspective; 7. Internalist explorations; Bibliography; Index.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Next Chomskian Book Falls Right in Line

    With the superior style style of the past and the new ideas of the present, Chomsky retains his authoritative prose while arguing his new ideas. It is a wonderful contribution to modern study of Linguistics as well as the philosophy of the mind. Bear in mind however that the heaviness of the ideas as well as the language itself suit it better for the scholar or well read. This is not a book recommended for the general reader, however, don't let that stop any interest. Chomsky, continues his argument, started in the 1960's of the "Mental Organ" through which we construct language. Now he presents his newest ideas on the subject in a truly spectacular way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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