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Noam Chomsky Poster

Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Birth NameAvram Noam Chomsky
Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Noam Chomsky was born on December 7, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His undergraduate and graduate years were spent at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his PhD in linguistics in 1955. From 1951-55, he was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows. While a Junior Fellow he completed his doctoral dissertation, entitled, "Transformational Analysis." The major theoretical viewpoints of the dissertation appeared in the monograph "Syntactic Structure", published in 1957. This formed part of a more extensive work, "The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory", circulated in mimeograph in 1955 and published in 1975.

Chomsky joined the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955 and in 1961 was appointed full professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics (now the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.) From 1966 to 1976 he held the Ferrari P. Ward Professorship of Modern Languages and Linguistics. In 1976 he was appointed Institute Professor. From 1958-59 he was in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, NJ. In the spring of 1969 he delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford; in January 1970 he delivered the Bertrand Russell Memorial Lecture at Cambridge University; in 1972, the Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi; and in 1977 the Huizinga Lecture in Leiden, among many others. Prof. Chomsky has received honorary degrees from the University of London, the University of Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago, Swarthmore College, Delhi University, Bard College, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Amherst College, Cambridge University, the University of Buenos Aires, McGill University, the Universitat Rovira I Virgili, Tarragona, Columbia University, the University of Connecticut, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto, Harvard University, the University of Calcutta and Universidad Nacional De Colombia. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science. He is also a member of other professional and learned societies in the United States and abroad, and is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, the Dorothy Eldridge Peacemaker Award, the Ben Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, and others. Chomsky has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history, contemporary issues, international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. His works include "Aspects of the Theory of Syntax"; "Cartesian Linguistics"; "Sound Pattern of English" (with Morris Halle); "Language and Mind"; "American Power and the New Mandarins"; "At War with Asia"; "For Reasons of State"; "Peace in the Middle East?"; "Reflections on Language"; "The Political Economy of Human Rights, Vol. I and II" (with E.S. Herman); "Rules and Representations"; "Lectures on Government and Binding"; "Towards a New Cold War"; "Radical Priorities"; "Fateful Triangle"; "Knowledge of Language"; "Turning the Tide"; "Pirates and Emperors"; "On Power and Ideology"; "Language and Problems of Knowledge"; "The Culture of Terrorism"; "Manufacturing Consent" (with E.S. Herman); "Necessary Illusions"; "Deterring Democracy"; "Year 501"; "Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War and US Political Culture"; "Letters from Lexington"; "World Orders, Old and New"; "The Minimalist Program"; "Powers and Prospects"; "The Common Good"; Profit Over People"; "The New Military Humanism"; "New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind"; "Rogue States"; "A New Generation Draws the Line"; "9-11"; and "Understanding Power".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: MIT Linguistics Department (corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (1)

Carol Chomsky (24 December 1949 - 19 December 2008) ( her death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (8)

Libertarian socialist activist and Professor of Linguistics at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Has written a number of books highly critical of the military-industrial complex and political corruption.
Caused a major controversy when an article he'd written in defense of free speech was used as a preface for a book by Robert Faurisson, a French professor whose works have focused on his belief that the Holocaust was a hoax. Chomsky's support of Faurisson's right to freedom of speech, defense of the credibility of Faurrison's research and his repeated criticisms of Israel have led to accusations of anti-Semitism, which he denies, pointing out that he himself is Jewish.
Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". New Revision Series, Vol. 132, pp. 75-85. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005.
Excerpts from his speeches have appeared on the "B" side of the single "New World Order: War #1" by the band Bad Religion.
Joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1955 and in 1961 was appointed full professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics (now the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy). From 1966 to 1976 he held the Ferrari P. Ward Professorship of Modern Languages and Linguistics, and in 1976 he was appointed Institute Professor. As of 2008, Chomsky has taught at MIT continuously for 53 years.
His 1957 work "Syntactic Structures" revolutionized the field of linguistics, fundamentally changing the current understanding of language and mind.
At the age of ten, he wrote his first political article on the fight against fascism in Spain.

Personal Quotes (15)

The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants, and aliens, the more you control all the people.
For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the system of "brainwashing under freedom" to which we are subjected and which all too often we serve as willing or unwitting instruments.
The country was founded on the principle that the primary role of government is to protect property from the majority. And so it remains.
[on dealing with Holocaust deniers] Going back years, I am absolutely certain that I've taken far more extreme postitions on people who deny the Holocaust than you have. For example, you go back to my earliest articles and you will find that I say that even to enter into the arena of debate on the question of whether the Nazis carried out such atrocities is already to lose one's humanity. So I don't even think you ought to discuss the issue if you want my opinion. But if anybody wants to refute Faurisson [denier Robert Faurisson'] there's certainly no difficulty in doing so.
[from Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)] I do not think that the State ought to have the right to determine historical truths and to punish people who deviate from them. I'm not willing to give the State that right. I'm saying if you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. I mean, Goebbels [Joseph Goebbels] was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin [Joseph Stalin]. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise you're not in favor of freedom of speech.
[from Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)] I don't mind the denunciations, frankly; I mind the lies . . . intellectuals are very good at lying. They're professionals at it. Villification is a wonderful technique. There's no way of responding. If somebody calls you an anti-Semite, what can you say: "I'm not an anti-Semite"? If somebody says you're a racist or a Nazi? You always lose. The person who throws the mud always wins, because there is no way of responding to those charges.
[from Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)] I signed a petition calling on the tribunal to defend his [Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson]'s civil rights. At that point the French press, which apparently has no conception of freedom of speech, concluded that since I had called for his civil rights, I was therefore defending his theses.
[from Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)] I mean the great act of genocide in the modern period is Pol Pot, 1975 through 1978 - that atrocity - I think it would be hard to find any example of a comparable outrage and outpouring of fury and so on and so forth.
The internet is an elite organization; most of the population of the world has never even made a phone call.
[on Sarah Palin in the German magazine 'Der Spiegel'] This Sarah Palin phenomenon is very curious. I think somebody watching us from Mars, they would think the country has gone insane.
Education is a system of imposed ignorance.
[on Julian Assange] Someone who courageously carries out actions in defense of democratic rights deserves applause, not hysterical denunciation and punishment. [2012]
[in defense of WikiLeaks] At stake is the question of whether the citizens of a country have a right to know what their elected officials are doing. Those who have a lingering affection for an odd notion called "democracy" believe that this is important. To be sure, a state has the right to keep some matters secret. I haven't read all the WikiLeaks exposures, but I have read quite a few, and I have not seen an example of anything that could legitimately be kept secret, nor, to my knowledge, have the horde of angry critics presented an example. I should say that this is not unusual. Anyone who has spent time studying declassified documents is well aware that overwhelmingly, they are kept secret to protect elected officials from the scrutiny of citizens, not for defense or some other legitimate purpose. [2012]
Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden carried out heroic, courageous acts. They fulfilled the responsibility of somebody who takes citizenship seriously - that is, who believes that the people of a country ought to know something about what their government is up to. OK? Like if their government is carrying out murderous, brutal attacks in Iraq, people should know about it. Takes us back to Martin Luther King's talk in 1967. If the government is, and corporations, too, incidentally, are listening in to your telephone conversations and what you're doing, you know, tapping this discussion and so on, we should know about it. Governments have no right to do things like that. And people should know about it. And if they think it's OK, fine, let them decide, not do it in secret. And I think people wouldn't agree to it. That's why it's kept secret. Why else keep it secret? You know? And these are people who exposed it at great risk to themselves. So those are heroic, courageous acts. If WikiLeaks was abetting them, more power to them. That's what they should be doing. [May 2017]
WikiLeaks has released lots of information that governments don't like. It's overwhelmingly information that citizens should have. It's information about what their governments are doing. And perfectly natural that systems of power don't want to be exposed, so they'll do what they can to prevent exposure. I think it's a disgraceful act. In fact, I think it's disgraceful even to keep Julian Assange holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy. I did visit him there once, but you can guess yourself. It's, in many ways, worse than imprisonment. At least if you're in prison, you can see other prisoners, and you can get out and look at the sunshine now and then. He's in a small apartment, where he can't go out. You know, he can go to the balcony, but that's about it, a small-basically, a couple of rooms inside a small apartment. It's not a big embassy. The embassy is like a kind of an apartment in London, surrounded by police and so on. There's been no credible basis for any of this. And to go on to try to raise it to the level of criminal prosecutions, I think, is, again, one of these efforts to look tough at home, and the kind of effort that a government would carry out that is dedicated to trying to protect itself from exposure of facts that citizens should have, but systems of power don't want them to have. I think that's the crucial issue. [May 2017]

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