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A particularly fascinating Introducing book The first 120 pages cover Chomsky the linguist, and it is a pretty dense read, but I learned a lot His view of language makes sense, but seems very difficult to understand There is a system in place in our brains that matures during childhood, about how language is acquired It s not arbitrary or a blank slate, solely dependent on surrounding stimuli, but governed by specific innate laws or rules In these studies, Chomsky reveals simultaneously how little we know about the brain or the mind and how they work in general.The rest of the book is dedicated to Chomsky s political views It cleared up some misconceptions I had about him, which were probably inspired by conservative voices I really enjoyed reading about his views and it has made me much curious to read by him My main criticism is, as with most of these books, that it hasn t received an update since its release 20 years ago. Starting from page 120, the book diverts from Chomsky s work in linguistics to radical critique of the institutions of power and the pathways of oppression, and his commitment to freedom and justice Page 144 for example has him popped up with a quote balloon There s an unpronounceable 5 letter word in the United States CLASS I ve read better overall books in this Icon Booms series HELLO, JOYCE, DARWIN, EINSTEIN KAFKA but I ve never seen a better diversion than this one. An introducing book should be accessible, this isn t Uses complex language and moves through difficult concepts too fast with little time spent explaining them Good introductionTwo parts reallylinguistics part one then political comment and implicationsboth I interesting in their own right but almost o st found it to be two different books But realise in such a short summary of such a figure, justified Could not agree with everything but of course that would not be possible considering such subject mattermade me rethink what socialism really manifests itself as. I purchased Chomsky for Beginners without much expectation, but as a Chomsky book to put into my library I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the exposition and thought that went into putting this excellent synopsis of Chomsky s ideas in linguists and their role in utterly transforming our understanding of human language Even than that, Maher and Chomsky include a range of contrary opinions and subsequent arguments that, although very concise, clearly illuminate the issues, thinking and controversies.The basic evisceration of the behaviourist model of language acquisition was well articulated throughout But I like how he approached Skinner The Refutation of BehaviourismIn 1959, Chomsky composed a basic refutation of behaviourist psychology in this review of B.F Skinner s Verbal Behaviour According to Chomsky, children are not born tabula rasa On the contrary, each child is genetically predisposed to structure how knowledge is acquired The phrase X is reinforced by Y is being used as a cover term for X wants Y, X likes Y, X wishes Y were the case, etc Invoking the term reinforcement has no explanatory force, and any idea that this paraphrase introduces any new clarity or objectivity into the description of wishing, liking, etc., is a serious delusion Skinner s account rejects all postulations of inner states and sees human behaviour as entirely a function of antecedent events For Chomsky, this reduction of human behaviour to conditioned responses contradicts the actual and demonstrated complexity and freedom of consciousness 43.I find the few quotations supplied to be on point and interesting As a reader of fiction, even of so called literature I was bemused to read Perhaps literature will forever give far deeper insight into the full human person than any model of scientific inquiry can hope to do 9.The bulk 2 3 of the book covers linguistics The balance of the book is Chomsky s political and media criticism This was of less interest to me, that being where the bulk of my Chomsky reading has been However with that exposure comes my ability to assess how well that section is put together But than that, the precise and clearly articulated criticisms of the media and socio political thought in general was hugely informative and entertaining to read For example, the contrast that Chomsky draws between enlightenment values and how far our science and social perspicuity have fallen from them is delightful.For example The American ParadoxThe United States proudly calls itself the leader of the Free World We know the US as a free and open society, so in many ways than societies of Western Europe And yet, Chomsky has criticized the US as blind to what it really is 1 One of the most depoliticized nations in the industrial world2 One of the most deeply indoctrinated societies in the industrial world3 One of the most conformist intelligentsias in the industrial world Q IS THIS NOT A PARADOX A It only looks that way.The freer the society the well honed and sophisticated its system of thought control and the indoctrination The ruling lite, clever, class conscious, ever sure of domination, make sure of that 138 9.It is clear from the very first page that, unlike the one or two Dummy books I ve tried, the writers of Chomsky for Beginners, John Maher and Noam Chomsky, demonstrate deep respect for the readers intelligence and ability to understand complex ideas This at no time feels dumbed down This book has been described as a good introduction to Chomsky s ideas, and it is But far, far importantly, this is a book that introduces one to the challenge of really thinking, even those who are, like me, familiar with Chomsky And I loved that.Now, everything up to this point would have earned from me four stars So why five Because for the first time I read someone else make the connection between C.G Jung and Chomsky s ideas of language and language acquisition I was so excited to see this For my connection, see my review of Noam Chomsky A Philosophic Review by Justin Leiber From Beginners Maher does not elaborate on the connection beyond a citation on the Collective Unconscious which he implies has a correspondence to Chomsky s concepts of Deep Structure and Universal Grammar One part of our biological make up is specifically dedicated to language That is called our language faculty UG is the initial state of that language faculty 77 Universal Grammar is that part of cognitive psychology ultimately human biology which seeks to determine the invariant principles of the language faculty and to determine as well the range of variation that those principles allow that is, the possible human languages 78.Now compare with Jung s idea of the collective unconscious and archetypes The human psyche is composed of innate forms always present, giving direction and form to their actualization in images and action The collective unconscious is universal it is shared by everyone The autonomic contents of the unconscious or dominants are not inherited ideas but inherited possibilities, necessities even, of bringing to birth the ideas by which these dominants have been expressed, every region has its forms of speech, which can vary infinitely 80 1. Not sure i agree with his linguistics, but i don t have the expertise It just seems to me that he doesn t prove that the intrinsic structure of language is received biology.The politics i completely agree with.But that s Chomsky, to review the book itself it s excellent Chomsky s oeuvre is enormous, this is a good start An overview of Chomsky s linguistic theory and political views Mainly focussing on his linguistic work generative grammar I enjoyed it, even though I was looking for of a political POV The short section on his politics was brief but clear, and even slightly satirical at points. A good lucid introduction to Chomsky s Linguistic accomplishments and theories, ending with an entree to his passion for libertarian political thought and his inspiring activism on behalf of the politically enthralled and unconsciously enslaved masses, ourselves included Inspired to read this and of his politcal philosophy by the documentary CHOMSKY MANUFACTURING CONSENT. I am not a linguist, nor do I have any interest in it, so the first part of this book was a waste of time Skip to page 120 for the political part.