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Noam Chomsky

Linguist Noam Chomsky is famous for two theories of human language and his work as one of many known trolls of the military-industrial complex.

Intellectual Defense by Noam Chomsky? is one of his better known works.

Chomsky's view of language is ultimately objectivist?: linguistic structures "are objects with objective properties, a building-block structure, and fixed relationships between the objects." According to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson? in Metaphors We Live By, such a strong ontology is independent of the way people understand them, so grammar? can be studied without any need to refer to meaning or to human understanding: neither philosophy nor historicism is ever required.

Specfically, Chomsky maintains (according to Lakoff/Johnson) "that grammar is a matter of pure form... Chomsky's use of the term "competence" as opposed to "performance" is an attempt to define certain aspects of language as the only legitimate objects of what he considers scientific linguistics - that is, what we have called objectivist linguistics in the rationalist mode, including only matters of pure form and excluding all matters of human understanding and language use. Though Chomsky sees linguistics? as a branch of psychology?, it is for him an independent branch, one that is in no way dependent on the way people actually use language." He is accused of overuse of the conduit metaphor.

In a famous debate on Dutch TV with Michel Foucault?, Chomsky did in fact take the position that scientific rationality? was able to provide an account of intelligence? and the mind? as such. Foucault was not so certain, and was in particular very skeptical about the potential to find an objective viewpoint from which to stand to make such an account. He was more concerned with the power required to make such an assessment and have it believed by others.


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