What Kind of Creatures Are We?

What Kind of Creatures Are We?

Noam Chomsky / Aug 21, 2019

What Kind of Creatures Are We Noam Chomsky is widely known and deeply admired for being the founder of modern linguistics one of the founders of the field of cognitive science and perhaps the most avidly read political theorist

  • Title: What Kind of Creatures Are We?
  • Author: Noam Chomsky
  • ISBN: 9780231175968
  • Page: 231
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Noam Chomsky is widely known and deeply admired for being the founder of modern linguistics, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science, and perhaps the most avidly read political theorist and commentator of our time In these lectures, he presents a lifetime of philosophical reflection on all three of these areas of research to which he has contributed for overNoam Chomsky is widely known and deeply admired for being the founder of modern linguistics, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science, and perhaps the most avidly read political theorist and commentator of our time In these lectures, he presents a lifetime of philosophical reflection on all three of these areas of research to which he has contributed for over half a century.In clear, precise, and non technical language, Chomsky elaborates on fifty years of scientific development in the study of language, sketching how his own work has implications for the origins of language, the close relations that language bears to thought, and its eventual biological basis He expounds and criticizes many alternative theories, such as those that emphasize the social, the communicative, and the referential aspects of language Chomsky reviews how new discoveries about language overcome what seemed to be highly problematic assumptions in the past He also investigates the apparent scope and limits of human cognitive capacities and what the human mind can seriously investigate, in the light of history of science and philosophical reflection and current understanding Moving from language and mind to society and politics, he concludes with a searching exploration and philosophical defense of a position he describes as libertarian socialism, tracing its links to anarchism and the ideas of John Dewey, and even briefly to the ideas of Marx and Mill, demonstrating its conceptual growth out of our historical past and urgent relation to matters of the present.

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    About "Noam Chomsky"

      • Noam Chomsky

        Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th century He also helped spark the cognitive revolution in psychology through his review of B F Skinner s Verbal Behavior, in which he challenged the behaviorist approach to the study of behavior and language dominant in the 1950s His naturalistic approach to the study of language has affected the philosophy of language and mind He is also credited with the establishment of the Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power Beginning with his critique of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Chomsky has become widely known for his media criticism and political activism, and for his criticism of the foreign policy of the United States and other governments.According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source often than any other living scholar during the 1980 1992 time period, and was the eighth most cited scholar in any time period.


    1. What Kind of Creatures Are We? by Noam Chomsky is a series of four articles concerning Chomsky's area of expertise. Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.I have read plenty of Chomsky as an undergraduate and graduate student in political science. He is well known as a philosopher and political thinker in that field. I have always been i [...]

    2. Noam Chomsky is not known as a slouch. And there is nothing slouch-like in this book. But it is limited. That appears to be his answer to the question posed by the title.This brief book consists of four essays: “What is language?”, “What can we understand?”, “What is the common good?” and “The mysteries of nature: How deeply hidden?” The first two essays and the last are loosely linked. They explore the nature and the limits of some central aspects of human beings: language, cogn [...]

    3. A short book based on Chomsky's lectures at Columbia, composed in his usual boring* style, a deceptively simple summa of his work on language, science and society. I've been reading Chomsky's books since the 1970s. This is my favorite.If you haven't read Chomsky before, this is probably not the best place to start.** According to Kirkus Reviews, "The writing is academic in its tenor, referencing throughout the work of philosophical luminaries such as David Hume, John Locke, Joseph Priestley, and [...]

    4. This is an incredible book as it clarified Chomsky's linguistic project, which can be summed up by asking: what do we expect to discover when language is brought under naturalistic inquiry? What we expect to discover according to Chomsky is a computational procedure that accounts for the Basic Property of language (defined as an unbounded array of hierarchically structured sentences that receive interpretations at two interfaces: the sensory motor interface for externalisation and the conceptual [...]

    5. The first Chomsky I had to put down. I think this piece is meant for PhD linguists who care about super intellectual, nerd impedimenta. With yawning sentences like, "Suppose X and Y are merged, and neither is part of the other, as in combining read with that book to form the syntactic object corresponding to 'read that book'." I did way too many drugs in the 80's to comprehend this sentence. Or mayhap not enough. I think I'll stick to his rants on anarchy, Manufacturing Consent and true historie [...]

    6. استعرض الكاتب والمترجم حمزة المزيني في باكورة عمله هذا المحاضرات الثلاثة التي قدَّمها عالم اللسانيات الأميركي نعوم تشومسكي برعاية من قسم الفلسفة في جامعة كولومبيا. ونُشرت في صحيفة «نيويورك تايمز» بتاريخ 9 كانون الأول 2013 .والمحاضرات كالتالي: أي نوع من المخلوقات نحن ؟ [وهو عن [...]

    7. Tre lezioni sull'uomo che si possono riassumere, semplificando:1. Il linguaggio è intimamente legato al nostro corredo genetico e serve più per pensare che per comunicare2. La conoscenza umana ha dei limiti intrinseci alla sua natura con buona pace del mondo scientifico classico3. Il bene comune, o la sua forma più completa, ha le sue radici nello sviluppo di forme di autorganizzazione dal basso, nella consapevolezza e nella partecipazioneUn testo carino che si legge in poco tempo, abbastanza [...]

    8. Although the title seems to suggest a more familiar philosophical subject matter, this short book packs an esoteric punch. The first half is pretty thick linguistic sludge that is all but inviting. I was hoping Captain Chomsky would tone it down a bit for us laymen, but that hope was unrealized. Noam Chomsky's intellect is remarkable, and this little volume is an excellent peak into how he thinks about language, thinking, and being.

    9. In this short, dense book, consisting of four loosely-related essays, Chomsky offers a distillation of his thoughts on linguistics, cognitive science, the general prospects for future scientific discovery and their epistemological implications, and the proper arrangement of human institutions for promoting the common good. In the first essay, "What is Language?", Chomsky corrects some common misunderstandings about the nature of human language capacity. He points out that the usage of language f [...]

    10. Che schifezza. Quando qualcuno vuole dare importanza alla sua disciplina (e quindi anche alla sua persona), la prima cosa che fa è farla apparire complicata, e il primo modo con cui ci si riesce è usare un linguaggio oscuro. Potrei aprire il libro a caso, prenderne un paragrafo a caso e mostrare quanto sia scritto in termini accademici, formali e ricercati senza un buon motivo. Le stesse 8 righe potrebbero essere ridotte a 3 con grande beneficio del lettore. E grazie, possiamo fare a meno dei [...]

    11. The linguist, Noam Chomsky, explores contemporary theory of language, human nature, and human potential.Chomsky is known for his work on the concept of universal grammar and the thesis of minimal computation, as the brain associates language to communicable ideas. He offers mounting evidence that the fundamental properties of language, as developed in humans 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, is essentially an instrument of thought and only incidentally a means of communication. The importance of this [...]

    12. Please read the full review on Weighing A PigI’m always puzzled when I read statements like Howard Gardner’s “Noam Chomsky is arguably the most influential thinker of our time”, or the Observer’s “[Chomsky is t]he world’s greatest public intellectual”. He may indeed be te “most prominent critic of imperialism”, as the Guardian put it. But if you look at the real world effect Chomsky has, his influence seems meager and pathetic: the Western world is still heavily involved in w [...]

    13. I'm a fan of Chomsky, but this book is poorly written for most of the part. It's often repetitive and trite,virtually the same sentences being repeated in multiple essays. and I'm very annoyed by Chomsky's repetitive resorting to his topic of specialty, linguistics, where he uses a lot of jargons which are in general inaccessible to lay audience. And while dealing with scientific topics like consciousness, free will he often cited obscure and very dated references. For example, Newton couldn't d [...]

    14. To anyone who has read Chomsky's philosophical work from the last half-century, these essays are mostly simple restatements of previously held positions. It works best as a primer for Language and Mind (1968), Rules and Representations (1980), and New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind (2000). It's great if only for the endnotes, just to see what new scholarship Chomsky has been reading in the past decade. Despite the cutesy cover, it's a serious book and not so much for a general reader [...]

    15. Language, cognition, the common good, and the limits of the knowable: an excellent guide to Chomsky's current views.

    16. It was a long and challenging read, partly because I am new to most topics of the book (linguistics, mind-body-problem), partly because it is not self-contained. For me, it was a book to work with -- googling, reading the footnotes, googling again, making notes -- and so on.Here are some highlights of what I learned. First, what is the difference between humans and (other) animals? Our language. It allows to generate "unbounded arrays of [] expressions" of what happens in our head. Animals may h [...]

    17. Pretty interesting book with some pretty interesting thoughts.In general, the language was way too esoteric for a layperson of this field, such as somebody like myself.However, if you are able to digest what it said, there are some very great thoughts and perspectives here.The most interesting and most difficult chapter was the last chapter, which really was in my opinion quite philosophical and metaphysical. It was a unique perspective, that of a linguist speculating on the nature of physical r [...]

    18. While it might be too academic for the general public, I think this book fits perfectly in terms of an interdisciplinary work that relates abstract philosophy to concrete science and politics. You might have to be familiar with Chomsky's prior work to appreciate this book. The reason I say that is partly because he updates and summarizes his past theories, but also for new readers to gain an appreciation for his depth of knowledge on areas that he might appear to be glossing over – when he's a [...]

    19. In this book, written at the evening of his life, Chomsky seems to have lost something of the ebullience of his youth and is less confident in our (human) ability to answer the question "what kind of creatures are we?"-- indeed, he wryly notes that our current answers to the question "What is language" have scarcely more evidence to support them than the one provided by Aristotle (i.e. language= sound +meaning). Hume's dictum, that certain secrets are forever "consigned to 'that obscurity in whi [...]

    20. A thought-provoking and humbling read. There is still so much that we don't know about the basic workings of the human mind, and that's kind of exciting!"There is no reason to believe that humans can solve every problem they pose or even that they can formulate the right questions; they may simply lack the conceptual tools, just as rats cannot deal with a prime number maze".

    21. While I only think I completely understood 30% of this book, it was extremely fun and exciting to read something so academic and thoughtprovoking. (Finished my first Booktubeathon read!)

    22. While I agree that some of this is repetitive, especially if you have read some of his other lectures and or books on these topics, there are some new arguments here too. He is still one of the most interesting people alive in my opinion. Many of his arguments were sufficient for me to give up my younger hardcore empirical beliefs. Him and a good/ very patient Kant professor.

    23. “There is no contradiction here. People live and suffer and endure in the real world of existing society, and any decent person should favor employing what means are available to safeguard and benefit them, even if a long-term goal is to displace these devices and construct preferable alternatives."

    24. Chomsky explores the fact that language is a biological function, stressing the fact that we should not equate external language production (speech, texts, sign language) with ‘language’. He argues that most of language is internal, and even not accessible to our consciousness. He further notes that much scientific misunderstandings arise from the confusion of ‘language’ with ‘communication’.I have sometimes had the thought that most people acquire language as a way to influence the [...]

    25. There is a broad range of interconnected subjects discussed. No one component is explained and you really have to be in the know to fully understand this book. That being said, it really sparks up curiosity for the reader if they find a topic interesting. For example, I don't know anything about Newton's era of science and that it was at that point in time the mind-body problem was deemed to not be formulaic. I can now look into this this topic for myself. You can make sense of a lot of things m [...]

    26. I love it when Noam talks linguistics to me. In these four somewhat dense (even for Chomsky) and informative essays he riffs on language, cognition, politics and science. In the most enlightening (and timely reading for me, given recent events in the US) essay he refers to the intersection of anarchism and socialism: 'People live and suffer and endure in the real world of existing society, and any decent person should favour employing what means are available to safeguard and benefit them, even [...]

    27. Four pre-released essays of Chomsky about language, biology, the two thing together and what are we supposed to do with them (more or less). It's nothing new but if you have never read something written by this author, this book is a good summary of most of his thoughts.4 saggi giá pubblicati di Chomsky sul linguaggio, la biologia, le due cose assieme e cosa dovremmo farci nell'ottica di un'umanitá migliore. Non é niente di nuovo, ma se non conoscete l'autore questo potrebbe essere un buon bi [...]

    28. Spellingbindingly brilliant. For my part, Noam Chomsky is the most illuminating, curious, & intelligent mind that I've had the pleasure (and challenge) of engaging with. The icing on the cake in this book is having Chomsky riff on Newton, Locke, Hume, Descartes, Galileo, Dewy, along with a slew of others, as he wrestles with some of the ultimate questions of life.This should be required reading for neuroscientists, philosophers, politicians -- including citizens interested in politics, lingu [...]

    29. 3,5* Tres ensayos de Chomsky, siempre interesantes y reveladores, pobre y rápidamente editados para compilar este brevísimo volumen. No recomendable como punto de entrada a este autor, y algo faltó de ambición. Hubiese terminado de ser redondo si en lugar de prepararlo a la carrera, se hubiese permitido (o exigido, o solicitado) que Chomsky se expandiera más en estos temas. Pese a todo, una buena lectura.

    30. I found this one of Chomsky's essays particularly difficult to follow. I think he is fulfilling some kind of a quota of books that he has to produce either for himself or to meet some contractor's agreements. Anyways, this is not one of the most interesting ideas I have heard from this awesome author.

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