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Noam Chomsky

  1. Oct 10, 2004 #1
    I don't really think this is a philosophy question, but what do you guys think of Noam Chomsky? His ideas on the U.S and such....

    I recently started to listen to a lot of his lectures on tape and I find them really interesting. I just wanted to know if any of you guys listen to him and if your a fan or not.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2004 #2
    I read some of his stuff. I watched a film of his that was going around when Bush was planning on murdering a bunch of innocent Iraqis.

    Some of his stuff is easy to understand. Some of it seems written at such a high reading level, you have to take your time.

    He seems like a pretty good guy.
  4. Oct 11, 2004 #3
    Chomsky is one of my favourite agitators. If the US left had any brains they'd give him as much airtime as they could give him, rather than Michael Moore. I don't know a lot about what he's done besides his activist stuff, except that he's a card-carrying anarchist (very cool) and that he's the Einstein of linguistics.

    I put Chomsky in the militant left, with Bill Blum, Michael Parenti & Greg Palast.
  5. Oct 12, 2004 #4

    therefore, he could twist around words, phrases and sentences to make his arguments more valid and believable

    More an expert on linguistics.
  6. Oct 12, 2004 #5
    People who know anything about him know that he is considered to be the Einstein of linguistics. He led the "Chomskian revolution" in that subject. He routinely gets asked about his professional background, and how it can "deconstruct" propaganda, or whatever, but he always says that has nothing to do with it. You can even ask him yourself (chomsky at mit dot edu). I don't think the fact that he's a linguist has anything to do with his writing style, or what a smooth talker he is, or how easily he can see through propaganda or anything. Unless "smooth talker" means somebody who simply cites declassified government documents or studies fromt he PR industry. Just ask him yourself. I'm sure he'll have a good answer for you since he gets that sort of thing all the time.

    anyway, maybe mikeee should check out www.democracynow.org and http://www.zmag.org/weluser.htm, they've got lots of Chomsky stuff on there.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2004
  7. Oct 12, 2004 #6


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    Chomsky is without a doubt the single mostimportant figure in 20th century linguistics and arguably the most importnat figure in linguistics full-stop.

    His poltical writings are controversial, but that's not suprising considerin he is an apolgetically left-wing thinker in a right-wing country.
  8. Oct 12, 2004 #7
    It has a major influence on his writing. He studied it.

    From dictionary.com:

    lin·guis·tics ( P ) Pronunciation Key (lng-gwstks)
    n. (used with a sing. verb)
    The study of the nature, structure, and variation of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics.


    \Lin*guis"tics\ (-t[i^]ks), n. [Cf. F. linguistique.] The science of languages, or of the origin, signification, and application of words; glossology
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2004
  9. Oct 12, 2004 #8
    he's a good writer because he knows how to write, just as a physicist, mathematician, philosopher would be a good writer if they know how to write. it's got nothing to do with linguistics. helen caldicott is a good writer; would you ever think that it has anything to do with the fact that she's a pediatrician? give me a break.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2004
  10. Oct 12, 2004 #9


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    Well, thats assuming being an agitator is a good thing for the Left. I don't think it helps them any. People who already leanign left eat it up and people who lean right hate it - its divisive.

    Regardless, from what I know of him (not a whole lot), he's very talented at what he does (agitating). The validity of what he has to say, on the other hand....

    And yeah - using words doesn't make one a linguist any more than using a bathroom scale makes one a physicist.
  11. Oct 12, 2004 #10
    No you're not getting any break

    Where did I say that being a linguist makes one a better writer.

    My point was it certainly added to his writing style. Whether through how he structures his sentences to inflame, finding the right words or phrases to emphasize a point.

    He studied semantics like a science and it comes out of his writing in one way or another.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2004
  12. Oct 16, 2004 #11
    Chomsky is an exceptionally good writer. He is rare in that he writes with both clarity and erudition; his works are accessible, yet still respected by the more educated.

    He is often mislabelled as being unpatriotic or 'anti-US' but in my mind he is one of the most patriot Americans I am aware of! To his critics, I would say that the true patriots are the ones who offer valid criticism of their countries policies, and not just yes-men who go along with everything the rulers say. Think of say, Germany under the Nazis. Who were the real patriots, the ones who supported the government or the ones who opposed them?

    As for the content of his writings I find that I very much agree with him about the ruling class and neoliberalism, etc. Keep in mind however, that like all good writers he is going to ignore evidence detrimental to his thesis to which has no counter. I also think, perhaps, he is a bit too idealistic.
  13. Oct 16, 2004 #12
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2004
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