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Download Language & Thought (Anshen Transdisciplinary Lectureships in Art, Science and the Philosophy of Culture) epub

by Noam Chomsky

As a linguist, Noam Chomsky aims not only at making a technical contribution with his generative theory of language but also at integrating his linguistic theory into a wider view of the relationship between between language and the human mind. The crux of this view is the hypothesis that human beings are born with an innate knowledge of universal principles underlying the structure of human language.   Chomsky's ideas have exerted a powerful influence on the other disciplines by restoring language to a central position in cognitive psychology and in the philosophy of the mind. The wider impact on his redefinition of the subject gives him a permanent place in the intellectual history of the twentieth century.
Download Language & Thought (Anshen Transdisciplinary Lectureships in Art, Science and the Philosophy of Culture) epub
ISBN: 1559210761
ISBN13: 978-1559210768
Category: Reference
Subcategory: Words Language & Grammar
Author: Noam Chomsky
Language: English
Publisher: Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries; Reprint edition (January 1, 2005)
Pages: 96 pages
ePUB size: 1308 kb
FB2 size: 1769 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 551
Other Formats: azw lit mbr lrf

I read IEEE and AIAA papers all the time, so I know hard reading when I see it and am capable of handling tough material. I wanted to try something new, but I guess you need to be in the field to have appreciation for the content. To each, their own...
Avram Noam Chomsky (b. 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, and outspoken social activist. He is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has written many books, such as Reflections on Language,The Minimalist Program,Aspects of the Theory of Syntax,Problems of Knowledge and Freedom,Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,Media Control, etc.

He begins this 1993 book with the statement, “Let me quickly allay any expectations that I might hope to do more than chip away at the rather grandiose themes suggested by the title of these remarks… The empirically-oriented disciplines concerned with language and thinking have become highly specialized. When I was as graduate student forty years ago, it too no great effort to master the theoretical content of linguistics and psychology; what was then at all understood occupies very little of today’s curricula… Specialization is no proof of progress: it has often meant displacement of penetrating insights in favor of technical manipulation of little interest. That remains partially true today, in my opinion, though only partially… The gap between public relations success and relevant achievement often seems to me rather impressive; I have in mind claims about the enormous promise of neural net (connectionist) models or artificial intelligence, or about a ‘cognitive revolution.’ Nevertheless, in some areas progress has been significant, I think. I will try to sketch the landscape as it looks to me, stressing in advance that it is a personal and surely a minority view.” (Pg. 15-16)

He observes, “The gap between what is known about language and about the brain sciences or experience is real enough, but it is not a ‘crisis’ or ‘embarrassment’ for cognitive psychology, as sometimes alleged. Rather, it is a typical problem of unification in the sciences: successful explanatory theory at one level cannot be integrated with others, perhaps because the others have to be fundamentally recast.” (Pg. 27)

He suggests, ”Speculating beyond the little that is known, we might take the mind/brain to be a complex system with a highly differentiated structure, with separate ‘faculties,’ such as the language facility, those involved in moral and aesthetic judgment and in the special kind of rational inquiry undertaken in the natural sciences, and much else.” (Pg. 35)

He admits, “This approach---which I will henceforth mean by ‘naturalism’---should be uncontentious… Plainly, such an approach does not exclude other ways of trying to comprehend the world. Someone committed to it (as I am) can consistently believe (as I do) that we learn much more of human interest about how people think and feel and act by reading novels or studying history than from all of naturalistic psychology, and perhaps always will: similarly, the arts may offer appreciation of the heavens to which astrophysicists cannot aspire. We are speaking here of theoretical understanding, a particular mode of comprehension. In this domain, any departure from a naturalistic approach carries a burden of justification.” (Pg. 42)

He points out, “By now, enough is known to indicate that the differences among languages may not be very impressive compared with the overwhelming commonality, at least from the standpoint we adopt towards organisms other than ourselves.” (Pg. 48)

He says, “In fact, the belief that neurophysiology is even relevant to the functioning of the mind is just a hypothesis. Who knows if we’re looking at the right aspects of the brain at all. Maybe there are other aspects of the brain that nobody has even dreamt of looking at yet. That’s often happened in the history of science. When people say the mental is the neurophysiological at a higher level, they’re being radically unscientific. We know a lot about the mental from a scientific point of view. We have explanatory theories that account for a lot of things. The belief that neurophysiology is implicated in these things COULD be true, but we have very little evidence for it. So, it’s just a kind of hope; look around and you see neurons; maybe they’re implicated.” (Pg. 85)

He acknowledges, “take the study of nematodes, which are useful organisms because their wiring diagram is completely known. They have 300 neurons and are very simple... There is a research group at MIT, which has been trying to figure out why the stupid little worm does the thing it does. We know entirely about its developmental pattern. We know all its neurology, but nobody can figure out what the heck it’s doing and why.” (Pg. 86)

This brief book contains interesting observations by Chomsky in areas where we seldom hear his views (e.g., neurophysiology; computer science); it will be of great interest to students of Chomskyan linguistics.
The Kindle version is not the book written by Chomsky who is a linguist not a psychologist. I hope Amazon fix this problem soon.