Avram Noam Chomsky
Photo by Duncan Rawlinson (20 March 2004)
Born: 7 December 1928, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Chomsky was born to immigrant Jews, his father from Ukraine and his mother from Belarus. His father was a professor of Hebrew and Noam gained his first understanding of linguistic history from reading drafts of his father's books. They were a rare Jewish family in a predominantly Catholic and anti-Semitic neighborhood, Chomsky remembers German neighbors having beer parties to celebrate the Nazi occupation of Paris. After graduating from Central High School in 1945 he entered the University of Pennsylvania and earned a BA (1949), MA (1951), and Ph.D. (1955), although some of his doctoral work was done on a Harvard fellowship. He married fellow linguist Carol Schatz in 1949, they were married until her death from cancer in 2008. After gaining his doctorate he immediately joined the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became a full professor in Modern Languages and Linguistics in 1961, and is still teaching there. As a linguist he challenged existing thought, believing that language is inherent in humans. (Fish swim, birds fly, people talk.) In 1967 he publicly opposed the Vietnam war and has been a critic of US government policy ever since, describing himself as an anarcho-syndicalist and libertarian socialist. He has written a staggering number of books on linguistics, even more on political subjects, and has been given honorary doctoral degrees by three dozen universities in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. When not traveling to lecture on politics, Chomsky lives at Lexington, Massachusetts.
Biography from Wikipedia
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are often "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Noam Chomsky quotes:
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- As soon as questions of will or decision or reason or choice of action arise, human science is at a loss. permalink
- During the 1960s, large groups of people who are normally passive and apathetic began to try to enter the political arena to press their demands.… The naive might call that democracy, but that's because they don't understand. The sophisticated understand that that's the crisis of democracy. permalink
Noam Chomsky - "Manufacturing Consent" lecture at the University of Wisconsin (15 March 1989)
- Education must provide the opportunities for self-fulfillment; it can at best provide a rich and challenging environment for the individual to explore, in his own way. permalink
- Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune. permalink
- Evaluating countries is senseless and I would never put things in those terms, but that some of America's advances, particularly in the area of free speech, that have been achieved by centuries of popular struggle, are to be admired. permalink
Noam Chomsky - "Noam Chomsky: Thorn in America's Side" The Observer (30 October 2003)
- I choose to live in what I think is the greatest country in the world, which is committing horrendous terrorist acts and should stop. permalink
Noam Chomsky - Debate with Bill Bennett on CNN (30 May 2002)
- I'm a boring speaker and I like it that way.... I doubt that people are attracted to whatever the persona is.... People are interested in the issues, and they're interested in the issues because they are important. permalink
- If the principle is, "Let's not get lethal substances out to the public", the first one you'd go after is tobacco. The next one you'd go after is alcohol. Way down the list you'd get to cocaine, and sort of invisibly low you'd get to marijuana. permalink
Noam Chomsky - (2 February 1999)
- If we choose, we can live in a world of comforting illusion. permalink
- If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all. permalink
Noam Chomsky - Interview by John Pilger on BBC's The Late Show (25 November 1992)
- If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was 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. permalink
Noam Chomsky - Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)
- In many respects, the United States is the freest country in the world. I don't just mean in terms of limits on state coercion, though that's true too, but also in terms of individual relations. The United States comes closer to classlessness in terms of interpersonal relations than virtually any society. permalink
Noam Chomsky - Chomsky on Democracy & Education (2003)
- In the United States, the political system is a very marginal affair. There are two parties, so-called, but they're really factions of the same party, the Business Party. permalink
Noam Chomsky - Interview by Adam Jones (20 February 1990)
- One might ask why tobacco is legal and marijuana not. A possible answer is suggested by the nature of the crop. Marijuana can be grown almost anywhere, with little difficulty. It might not be easily marketable by major corporations. Tobacco is quite another story. permalink
Noam Chomsky - Deterring Democracy (1992)
- One of the truths about the world is that there are two superpowers, one a huge power which happens to have its boot on your neck; another, a smaller power which happens to have its boot on other people's necks. I think that anyone in the Third World would be making a grave error if they succumbed to illusions about these matters. permalink
Noam Chomsky - "On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures"
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