LINGUIST List 13.1387

Fri May 17 2002

Books: Ling Theories:Chomsky:Language,Mind & Politics

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  1. dwill, Chomsky - Language, Mind and Politics by James McGilvray

Message 1: Chomsky - Language, Mind and Politics by James McGilvray

Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 13:50:14 +0000
From: dwill <>
Subject: Chomsky - Language, Mind and Politics by James McGilvray

Series Title: Key COntemporary Thinkers
Publication Year: 2000
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers
Book URL:
Author: James McGilvray 

Hardback: ISBN: 0745618871, Pages: 250, Price: $60.95
Comment: Polity Publication - *35% off with a subscription to Blackwell's LL+
Paperback: ISBN: 074561888X, Pages: 250, Price: $24.95
Comment: Polity Publication - *35% off with a subscription to Blackwell's LL+

Noam Chomsky is well known as a linguist and as a political
thinker. He is less well known as a philosopher. This is unfortunate,
because his philosophical work connects his political views and his
work as a scientist of language. His rationalist philosophical views
tie common-sense understandings of human action and decision
(including political thought and action) to that human mental capacity
we call language.

The key to Chomsky's overall intellectual project lies in what he has
to say about a biologically based human nature. To explain his view of
human nature, McGilvray begins by distinguishing common-sense
understanding (which includes the domains of economic, social,
political and linguistic behaviour) from scientific knowledge of the
mind. He then outlines the picture of the mind that underlies the
distinction between common sense and science. This picture of the mind
is shown to develop from Chomsky's attempt to address some basic
observations concerning how language is acquired and used - the
"poverty of stimulus" and the "creative aspects of language use". Like
some seventeenth-, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century thinkers,
Chomsky seeks to account for these observations by producing a
rationalist account of human nature. McGilvray then explores the
connection between this account of human nature and Chomsky's
linguistic and political work.

Chomsky's revitalized rationalism has profound implications for both
the science of the human mind ('cognitive science') and for an
understanding of human action. No responsible individual can afford to
ignore it.

This book will be of interest to second-year undergraduates and above
in linguistics, philosophy, politics and political theory, sociology
and social theory.

Lingfield(s):Linguistic Theories
Subject Language(s):English (Language code: ENG)
Written In: English (Language Code: ENG)

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Thursday, January 17, 2002