Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Noam Chomsky- Noah Delk H01
I will be doing my blog posts over Noam Chomsky, the American-Linguist/ Philosopher. The three parts will consist of his biography, his contribution to the field of Linguistics, and finally, his contributions to Philosophy.
Avram Noam Chomsky was born in 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to William and Elsie Chomsky. His father was from Ukraine, while his mother was Lithuanian. They were both jewish, and therefore raised Noam and his brother, David Eli Chomsky, as Jews. Growing up, Yiddish (the native language of both of his parents), was prohibited from being spoken in the Chomsky household. Instead, the children were taught Hebrew, and were highly influenced by Zionism. Chomsky lived through the Nazi period, and faced anti-semitism in America.
Chomsky began university studies in 1945 at the University of Pennsylvania.
Originally, he was pursuing a degree in Arabic. However, he was influenced to major in linguistics by Linguist Zellig Harris, and he obtained his bachelors degree in Linguistics in 1949. He went on to pursue a master’s degree and his doctorate degree in Linguistics, both at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation, Transformational Analysis, was refined, and the key points were used in his first book, Syntactic Structures. He built upon his theories presented in these two works, and published his The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory in 1975. He has been a professor of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955, and continues to be so today.
In 1947, Chomsky began dating Carol Schatz, who later became his wife in 1949. The two considered moving to Israel after the post-World War Two establishment of the state. They lived there for six weeks in 1953, but Chomsky could not get over the anti-arab racism and the way the Palestinians were treated, and decided that he could not live there permanently amongst such hate. (Later in life, he has become one of the strongest of Israel’s critics, and has been barred from entering the country since 2010). He had three children with Carol: Aviva, Diane, and Harry Chomsky. Carol and Noam were married until her death in 2008. He remarried in 2014 to Valeria Wasserman.
Chomsky has been involved in politics from a very young age, and has been enthralled with anarchism and socialism. He was first introduced to these views by his relatives in New York city. More will be covered on this in a later post.
Besides his works, Chomsky is also known for his excellent skill at debating. To quote The Guardian, "His boldness and clarity infuriates opponents—academe is crowded with critics who have made twerps of themselves taking him on." An example of his debating skills can be found by following this link:
Here, one can see the calm and cool manner in which Chomsky conducts his debates, and how he analytical picks apart the arguments brought up against him, piece by piece. Even when he is insulted, he is able to keep a cool head, and I find that a very admirable quality. To add a little bit of comedy,
Chomsky has written on a multitude of subjects including: Linguistics, Philosophy (especially about the Philosophy of Language), Politics (especially concerning Israel/Palestinian politics), Metalinguistics, Psychology, and Ethics. Following is a link to his best selling books:
Chomsky is still alive and well today, and is currently Professor Emeritus at MIT.Next time, I will discuss his contributions and revolutionary theories in the field of Linguistics.