Friday, November 23, 2012

Chomsky's Minimalist Program

Interesting interview with linguist Noam Chomsky here at Open Culture.
While popularly known for his piercing and relentless critiques of U.S. foreign policy and economic neoliberalism, Noam Chomsky made his career as a researcher and professor of linguistics and cognitive science.
This is interesting because it looks like (to me) there are key falsehoods that support the rationalization of the economic assumptions of this so-called "economic neo-liberalism" that are facilitated by language techniques and associated semantic interpretations; devoid of properly applied mathematics.

I am not surprised that Chomsky is led to be interested in both of these topics as to me it looks like within humanity, the one (neo-liberalism) is directly facilitated and supported by the other (certain language patterns).

The article has a link to an old NYT piece on Chomsky from 1998 where it focuses on Chomsky's then new concept of a "Minimalist Program" in his approach to understanding language. Titled "A Changed Noam Chomsky Simplifies" key excerpts:
Imagine, Mr. Chomsky says, that some divine superengineer, in a single efficient stroke, endowed humans with the power of language where formerly they had none.
This simple idea is the cornerstone of Mr. Chomsky's newest -- and most unconventional -- approach to the discipline he founded in 1957. Mr. Chomsky, who turns 70 on Dec. 7, is the father of modern linguistics and remains the field's most influential practitioner.
Although he has revised his theoretical framework over the years, no modification is as dramatic as the present one, called the Minimalist Program, in which he largely breaks with the last four decades of his own work. The Minimalist Program, said the linguist Morris Halle, Mr. Chomsky's longtime colleague at M.I.T., ''is the most radical thing I've ever heard anybody say in linguistics.''
This is quite an interesting analytic framework that Chomsky has happened upon in the view of someone like myself.

It is also interesting to note the word pattern in which the NYT author introduces Chomsky's radical departure from a his past approach after over 40 years of linguistic research, indeed, in the VERY FIRST WORDS, the author asserts:
"Noam Chomsky is spinning a fable."
Interesting (and not to me surprising) use of metaphor to describe a world leading, distinguished academic's conclusions after over 40 years of study.

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