REFLECTIONS ON LANGUAGE by Noam Chomsky

REFLECTIONS ON LANGUAGE

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this extremely difficult work, Chomsky confronts one element of the ancient conundrum of epistemology: on what basis is human knowledge possible? In Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, he has suggested that there are "universal deep structures" in language which are "located far beyond the level of actual or even potential consciousness." Reflections on Language gives essentially the same answer, though using far more recondite material--despite assurances that the new book is for the general reader. The many technical passages and illustrations will be intelligible only to fellow grammarians, as will be the heated disputes with other laborers in the syntactic vineyard (notably Quine of Harvard). The importance of the "theory of human nature" derived from Chomsky's new linguistic model will have to be taken on faith by most of us, and we can be grateful for the more approachable moments in which he assaults behaviorists and empiricists or adverts to the prior history of "innate ideas" as evaluated by such thinkers as Leibnitz and Descartes. Unfortunately, the bulk of Chomsky's thesis will remain inaccessible to all but specialized audiences.
Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1975
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1975




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