12 Quotes by Renowned Linguist, Noam Chomsky

12 Quotes by Renowned Linguist, Noam Chomsky

Last update: 14 March, 2016

Noam Chomsky, born in 1928 in Philadelphia, is a professor of linguistics at MIT and is one of the most prominent linguists of the twentieth century.

His contributions in the field of linguistics have been fundamental in the development of computer sciences. His doctoral thesis was devoted to transformational analysis, after which he became part of the faculty at MIT.

“If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.”
-Noam Chomsky-

In order to roughly understand the enormous influence of this great thinker, we must understand his revolutionary theory: the existence of a universal grammar system as part of a human being’s genetic heritage.

In Chomsky’s opinion, from birth, we are all equipped with a pattern to which the various existing languages ​​adapt. This conclusion led him to break off from psychological currents as functionalism and behaviorism, in regard to the study of language.

In addition, Chomsky is known for being a strong political activist and a prolific writer on other topics.

To get closer to the inner-workings of this great theorist’s mind, we’ve provided you with some of his public quotes and thoughts that we believe have significant philosophical value.

tree in rubble

12 Quotes by Noam Chomsky

  1. “The basic idea which runs right through modern history and modern liberalism is that the public has got to be marginalized. The general public are viewed as no more than ignorant and meddlesome outsiders, a bewildered herd.”
  2. “We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.”
  3. “Case by case, we find that conformity is the easy way, and the path to privilege and prestige; dissidence carries personal costs.”
  4. “That is what I have always understood to be the essence of anarchism: the conviction that the burden of proof has to be placed on authority, and that it should be dismantled if that burden cannot be met.”
  5. “Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level – there’s a little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I’m opposed to political fascism, I’m opposed to economic fascism. I think that until major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it’s pointless to talk about democracy.”
  6. 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.”
  7. “The internet provides access to an extraordinary range of information, opinion, and interpretation. But as with any source, it is useful to the extent that it is used with discrimination and insight.”
  8. Freedom without opportunity is a devil’s gift, and the refusal to provide such opportunities is criminal.”
  9. “Pick the topic you like: the Middle East, international terrorism, Central America, whatever it is, the picture of the world that’s presented to the public has only the remotest relation to reality. The truth of the matter is buried under edifice after edifice of lies upon lies. It’s all been a marvelous success from the point of view in deterring the threat of democracy, achieved under conditions of freedom, which is extremely interesting. It’s not like a totalitarian state, where it’s done by force. These achievements are under conditions of freedom.”
  10. “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
  11. Education is really aimed at helping students get to the point where they can learn on their own because that is what you’re going to do during your life, not just absorb materials given to you by the outside, and repeat it.”
  12. “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.