A LIVING LEGEND-NOAM CHOMSKY - Студенческий научный форум

XII Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2020

A LIVING LEGEND-NOAM CHOMSKY

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“Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.”- Noam Chomsky

Early Life and Education

Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, political theorist, and activist, often referred to as "the father of modern linguistics." One of the most prominent philosophers and intellectuals of the contemporary era, he is also hailed as one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He has described his own politics variously as anarchist, anarchosyndicalist, and libertarian socialist, and has been an unapologetic critic of American foreign policy from the past several decades. The son of a Jewish scholar, he grew up in an intellectually stimulating environment and studied philosophy, logic, and languages at the University of Pennsylvania. It was here that he developed an intense interest in philosophy, under the tutelage of his teacher Nelson Goodman. After completing his studies he joined the faculty of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Initially he focused on teaching and writing and later became active as a political theorist as well. He became increasingly involved in left-wing activism and participated in anti-war protests which led to him being arrested on multiple occasions. Surprisingly though, his civil disobedience did not hamper his academic career in any way. Noam Chomsky rose to become an internationally recognized linguist and also mentored several students who became leading linguistic specialists in their own rights.

The Scholar

Just as World War II was coming to a close, Chomsky began his studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He found little use for his classes until he met Zellig S. Harris, an American scholar touted for discovering structural linguistics (breaking language down into distinct parts or levels). Chomsky was moved by what he felt language could reveal about society. Harris was moved by Chomsky’s great potential and did much to advance the young man’s undergraduate studies, with Chomsky receiving his B.A. and M.A in nontraditional modes of study.

Harris introduced Chomsky to Harvard mathematician Nathan Fine and philosophers Nelson Goodman and W. V. Quine. Although an industrious student of Goodman's, Chomsky drastically disagreed with his approach. Goodman believed the human mind was a blank slate, whereas Chomsky believed the basic concepts of language were innate in every human’s mind and then only influenced by one’s syntactical environment. His 1951 master’s thesis was titled "The Morphophonemics of Modern Hebrew."

In 1949, Chomsky married educational specialist Carol Schatz, a woman he had known since childhood. The relationship lasted for 59 years until she died from cancer in 2008. They had three children together. For a short time, between Chomsky’s master's and doctoral studies, the couple lived on a kibbutz in Israel. When they returned, Chomsky continued at the University of Pennsylvania and executed some of his research and writing at Harvard University. His dissertation eventually explored several ideas that he would soon lay out in one of his best-known books on linguistics, Syntactic Structures (1957).

Political Activism

In the late 1960s, Noam Chomsky started getting more involved in political activism. While he had always been vocal about his left-leanings, it was only in 1967 that he publicly started speaking against the United States foreign policy. His essay title ‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals’, published in ‘The New York Review of Books’ in February 1967 vocalized his views of dissent.

In 1969, he published his first political book ‘American Power and the New Mandarins’ in which he explained in details his opposition to the Vietnam War. He published several other political books over the following years which included ‘At War with Asia’ (1971), ‘The Backroom Boys’ (1973), ‘For Reasons of State’ (1973), and ‘Peace in the Middle East?’ (1975).

He did not stop with writing; he also actively participated in left-wing activism. He publicly supported students who refused the draft and even refused to pay half of his taxes. He collaborated with other like-minded people such as with Mitchell Goodman, Denise Levertov, William Sloane Coffin, and Dwight Macdonald to found the anti-war collective RESIST. Due to his activism, he was also arrested numerous times. But nothing could deter his rebellious spirit.

Аs a prominent academician, he used his university position to motivate and inspire the student activists, and along with his colleague Louis Kampf began running special courses on politics at MIT, independently of the political science department which he felt was too conservative.

Major Works

Noam Chomsky is a towering international figure in the field of linguistics and is often referred to as "the father of modern linguistics." His linguistic contributions include Chomsky Normal Form, Chomsky hierarchy, and the Chomsky–Schützenberger theorem, among others. He also performed vital works in the fields of Minimalist program, Non-configurational language, Parasitic gap, Phonology, and Phrase structure grammar.

Manufacturing Consent: “The Political Economy of the Mass Media”, a book that Chomsky wrote with Edward Herman is one of his most powerful works. In this book the authors presented their “propaganda model” which seeks to explain how populations are manipulated by mass communication businesses.

Noam Chomsky is a living legend in the field of linguistics as well as politics. Chomsky’s unmatched concepts in the field of linguistics has earned his work the title of “the most dynamic and influential” school of thought developed. There are many academic achievements, awards and honors earned by Naom chomsky especially by the prestigious universities including Oxford University, University of Cambridge as well as University of Toronto to name a few. He was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2011 as well as at AI’s Hall of Fame for his contributions in the field of artificial intelligence.

List of references:

https://www.famousphilosophers.org/noam-chomsky/

https://www.biographyonline.net/people/noam-chomsky.html

https://www.biography.com/scholar/noam-chomsky

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Noam-Chomsky

https://interestingengineering.com/who-is-noam-chomsky-and-why-is-he-famous

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