1 Jan 2004

Noam Chomsky

Linguist, Mathematician and Philosopher

Among his many accomplishments, he is most famous for his work on generative grammar, which developed from his interest in modern logic and mathematical foundations.


As a result, he applied it to the description of natural languages. As a student, he proofread Zellig Harris’s Methods in Structural Linguistics and developed a sympathy for Harris’s ideas on politics. It was Chomsky’s sympathy to Harris’s political views that steered him toward work as a graduate student in linguistics.
He was also a student of Nelson Goodman, the radical-empiricist philosopher. In 1951, he accepted nomination by Goodman as a Junior Fellow to Harvard University.

Noam has always been interested in politics, and it is said that politics has brought him into the linguistics field. His political tendencies toward socialism and anarchism are a result of what he calls "the radical Jewish community in New York." Since 1965 he has become one of the leading critics of U.S. foreign policy. He published a book of essays called American Power and the New Mandarins which is considered to be one of the most substantial arguments ever against American involvement in Vietnam.

Chomsky is very respected and has been honored numerous times in the academic arena. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of London and the University of Chicago, as well as having been invited to lecture all over the world. In 1967, he delivered the Beckman Lectures at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1969, he presented the John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford and Sherman Memorial Lectures at the University of London.

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