I am a big fan of Noam Chomsky. One of the early works I have read for him while I was in graduate school is Syntactic Structures.His linguistic insights have deeply shaped my understanding of language and the way in which I think about communication.
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In Syntactic Structures, Chomsky lays out the foundations of Transformational-Generative grammar, a revolutionary approach to understanding language. His theories laid the groundwork for modern linguistics and for much of our current knowledge about languages.
It is amazing how Chomsky especially in the last two decades have radically changed course and focused much of his writing and analysis on the political implications of language. This includes, for example, his ideas about how media organizations manipulate public opinion, his criticism of the US-led ‘war on terror,’ and his research into the use of language as a tool for repression.
Chomsky’s ideas have been incredibly influential and his words continue to be quoted widely. In fact, his words have inspired countless individuals and sparked crucial discussions on crucial issues such as power, inequality, and democracy. In this post, I share with you some of my favorite Noam Chomsky quotes.
[Related: Famous Richard Dawkins Quotes]
These are profound and thought-provoking quotes from Noam Chomsky, ones that highlighting his insights and perspectives on a wide range of topics from politics to language and from education to economics. Check them out and let us know which ones stand out to you and why.
1- “We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.”― Noam Chomsky
2- “I was never aware of any other option but to question everything.” ― Noam Chomsky
3- “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”― Noam Chomsky
4- “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.”― Noam Chomsky
5- “Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself.” – Noam Chomsky
6- “For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”― Noam Chomsky
7- “There’s a tremendous gap between public opinion and public policy.” – Noam Chomsky
8- “Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” – Noam Chomsky
9- “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….”― Noam Chomsky
10- “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”― Noam Chomsky
11- “Governments will use whatever technology is available to combat their primary enemy – their own population.” – Noam Chomsky
12- “There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster;’ instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do.” ―Noam Chomsky
13- “In fact, by universal grammar, I mean just that system of principles and structures that are the prerequisites for acquisition of language, and to which every language necessarily conforms.” – Noam Chomsky
14- “The reason academic disputes are so vicious is that so little is at stake.” – Noam Chomsky
15- “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” ― Noam Chomsky
16- “Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below.” Noam Chomsky
17- “Like most technology, the internet has mixed effects. It’s a neutral instrument.” – Noam Chomsky
18- “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world.” ― Noam Chomsky
19- “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.”― Noam Chomsky
20- “A language is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is. It’s all embodied in a language.” – Noam Chomsky
21- “Education is a system of imposed ignorance.”― Noam Chomsky
22- “Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.”― Noam Chomsky
23- “It is quite possible–overwhelmingly probable, one might guess–that we will always learn more about human life and personality from novels than from scientific psychology”― Noam Chomsky