Language and Thought


Language & Thought

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Download: Language & Thought (Chomsky 1995).

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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.


This brilliant essay attests to the aptness of Newsweek’s identification of Professor Chomsky as one of the very few thinkers today whose genius can be compared to that of Freud, Marx or Darwin. The nuanced arguments put forward concerning the history and significance of the mind/brain juxtaposition reveal why, as with the three luminaries, his ideas have helped transform the way we think about the nature of the world.

J. Jorge Klor De Alva, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University


Noam Chomsky is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has received numerous honorary degrees, belongs to many professional and learned societies, and has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history and United States foreign policy.