Between Language and Philosophy

Between Language and Philosophy
Noam Chomsky in a New Light
Nurit Basman Mor

Noam Chomsky develops an empirical linguistic theory which presents linguistic knowledge as a state of mind or a system of mind generating structural descriptions of an infinite set of linguistic expressions which have qualities of sound and meaning. This system of knowledge evolves within innate universal principles. This book presents Chomsky as a first rate philosopher. Chomsky deals explicitly and thoroughly with the conceptual and methodological framework of the theory of linguistic knowledge which he evolves. Moreover, consistently and constantly, although usually implicitly, Chomsky interweaves substantial and grounded philosophical contentions in his methodology and conceptual framework. These contentions are also interwoven in one another. Three philosophical contentions are adopted by Chomsky. The first contention is that of methodological naturalism as a way of understanding the world. This contention is based on a variable concept of body, which develops with the progress of science and it is also based on a conception of the human being as a natural creature. According to this contention, explanatory methods of science should be applied to all fields of research, including the cognitive field, although in the present state of human knowledge many phenomena in this field are not explained at all and others are explained at a level of abstraction which is not consistent with current natural sciences. The second contention concerns a mental linguistic meaning. It is composed of a pre-theoretic and an intrinsic-theoretic contentions. The pre-theoretic contention connects the meaning of linguistic expressions with concepts and beliefs in human minds and not with social norms of linguistic use or with external objects. The intrinsic-theoretic contention presents linguistic meaning as instructions which the features of linguistic expressions give to the mental performance systems, the intentional and conceptual systems. The third contention is a rationalist contention concerning the acquisition of knowledge. This contention assumes innate and substantial principles of acquiring knowledge. These principles are specific to different domains of knowledge and they determine the form of the acquired knowledge, they limit and organize it. The rationalist contention supports a humanist conception of the human being. If the human being has a certain intrinsic nature, we should let him develop freely according to this nature. Presenting Chomsky's linguistic theory in the framework of the above-mentioned philosophical contentions interwoven into it and also in one another, enables to present it as more successful than to present it in detachment from these philosophical contentions. This presentation of the theory makes it more grounded, coherent, interesting and rich than presenting it as directed only to the clarification of the nature and the emergence of linguistic knowledge. In different terms, it can be said that if we adopt a Dvorkian constructivist conception of interpretation, then the philosophical contentions, that are integrated in the framework in which Chomsky's theory of linguistic knowledge is formulated, can be seen as a successful interpretation to this theory.
Digital Edition Kotar

Danacode:   110-20165 ISBN:  978-965-226-373-5 Language:   Hebrew Pages:   440 Weight:   850 gr Publication Date:   01/2011 Publisher:   Bar-Ilan University Press