PROBLEMS OF KNOWLEDGE AND FREEDOM by Noam Chomsky

PROBLEMS OF KNOWLEDGE AND FREEDOM

The Russell Lectures
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The two relatively short, disappointing pieces here -- originally presented earlier this year as the first in an annual series of lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, commemorating Bertrand Russell -- are strikingly different in content and tone though both pay tribute to Russell and draw on his ideas. The first, which builds on Russell's speculations about knowledge acquisition, is a theoretical discussion of linguistic development as cognitive behavior; Chomsky's main concern is to illustrate the "rich systems of invariant structures and principles" that underlie ordinary language use and evolution -- no real thesis is tendered. The second essay reflects Russell's humanistic conception of man and his preoccupation with libertarian questions, though all Chomsky does in fact is simply restate his longstanding convictions about U.S. "militarized state capitalism" and its invidious permeation of all corners of American life, including the university. As a final fillip, Chomsky calls for reviving the war crimes tribunal initiated by Russell in the mid-sixties -- "there could be no more fitting memorial to Russell." Bertrand Russell deserves better than this.
Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1971
ISBN: 1565848098
Page count: 111pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1971




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