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mysteries of nature

Here’s an engaging 2009 piece by Noam Chomsky that covers wide swaths of the philosophy of science — empiricism versus rationalism, the nature of will, philosophy of mind, the evolution of scientific thought, etc:

Chomsky, N. 2009. The Mysteries of Nature: How Deeply Hidden? Journal of Philosophy 106: 167-200.

[Sorry, the journal web site does not allow one to link directly to papers, but you can easily find the volume — though it’s probably gated if you are not at a university.]

The whole paper is, sort of, addressed at (or at least linked to) the arguments of the “greats” in the history of science — Newton, Galileo, Locke, Hume, etc.  One of the more interesting, big picture-type papers I’ve read in a while.  (Perhaps some semi-intelligent commentary later, once I digest a few things.)

And while we’re in Chomsky mode — you might check out this recent book (the first chapter features the above article):

Bricmont, J.& Franck, J. (eds.) 2009. The Chomsky Notebook.  Columbia University Press. [Amazon.com link here.]

Written by teppo

November 11, 2010 at 12:42 am

Posted in philosophy

11 Responses

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  1. I am a huge Chomsky fan and came to know of him through his political work. I ignored his academic work since the word “linguistics” brought out the knee-jerk reactions of “yuck” and “yawn” in my mind. However, reading his more mainstream philosophical work (as in, his work that isn’t technical linguistics) is pretty interesting and on issues of epistemology, philosophy of science & mind, and ethics he’s quite sharp as well. But I still think linguistics is boring.

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    Andrew

    November 11, 2010 at 1:16 am

  2. Language is A and even THE window into the mind. Chomsky discusses this in ‘Reflections on Language’/Whidden Lectures.

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    teppo

    November 11, 2010 at 1:33 am

  3. Andrew, I seem to remember that somewhere in the 2003 New Yorker profile of Chomsky, called the Devil’s Accountant, Chomsky is quoted as saying that ‘he wrote his early linguistics work in as boring a tone as he could muster, as an inside joke’.

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    James

    November 11, 2010 at 5:12 am

  4. yeah, i’ve come around to the relevance of linguistics more recently. coincidentally, or not, my renewed interest or respect for linguistics has also come along with a newfound respect for psychology – before i thought of psychology as nonsense – i’m a sociology student, after all, and a structuralist at that!

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    Andrew

    November 11, 2010 at 7:40 am

  5. A review of the book mentioned in the post: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=21428

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    teppo

    November 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

  6. This journal can’t be very important, because UNC doesn’t seem to have an online subscription. If anyone is still talking about Chomsky in 4 years, I can read it when it comes up on the other side of JSTOR’s moving wall. Thanks for the tip!

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    Philip Cohen

    November 12, 2010 at 7:54 pm

  7. Philip: You are right. For a 100+ years the Journal of Philosophy has only focused on/published the work of minor philosophers like Dewey, Lewis, Sen, Feyerabend, Popper, Nagel, etc. [smiley face]

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    teppo

    November 12, 2010 at 8:16 pm

  8. “This journal can’t be very important, because UNC doesn’t seem to have an online subscription.”

    Lol. Are you serious?

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    Guillermo

    November 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm

  9. “For a 100+ years the Journal of Philosophy has only focused on/published the work of minor philosophers like Dewey, Lewis, Sen, Feyerabend, Popper, Nagel, etc. ”

    And Quine, Davidson, Rawls, Hilary Putnam…

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    Guillermo

    November 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm

  10. Hello.

    It is a very good site.

    Japan is this autumn. I introduce the scenery of autumn of the country in Japan though my site is a herb. Please come by all means.

    Thank you.

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    Etuko Sato

    November 18, 2010 at 6:43 pm

  11. Perhaps I’m now overly sensitive from dealing with a field (science education research) where the vast majority of people who would benefit from access to the field’s literature, and could benefit the field, instead lack access. That said, regards

    “though it’s probably gated if you are not at a university”

    The journal is gated regardless of where you are. The description reflects an assumption of access (“there’s a gate thing there, which I pass each day, open and unnoticed, but it may otherwise affect you – you may find the gate resembles a wall”).

    “Paywalled” has the opposite emphasis. “The work is surrounded by a wall, to stop you from seeing it. There may be some closed gate in the wall somewhere, but as a practical matter, unless you’re very lucky, it, both gate and work, might as well not exist”.

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    Mitchell

    November 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm


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