Sunday, October 05, 2008


National Seminar on

Noam Chomsky


The Contemporary World

22-24 September 2008

Dr. P. Kesava Kumar

Organized by
Department of Philosophy
Pondicherry University

Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL)

Chomsky and Foucault: A Study in the Clash of Two Paradigms

Dr. B. Tirupati Rao, Associate Professor, Dept. of English and Communications, Dravidian University, Kuppam- 517 425, A.P.

Among the debates that took place in the 1970s, the one between Chomsky and Foucault is the pertinent one as it focuses on the vital issues of the century and the two major thinkers had deliberated upon the two diametrically opposing visions. The debate is enormously important for two reasons. First, it represents a forum for contradictory philosophical positions. Chomsky argues for a political structure founded upon a biological theory of how humans actually are, regardless of historical and environmental conditioning. Foucault on the other hand, stress that such a position is both morally and politically dangerous because biology and linguistics are historical, discursive constructs tied to power. Second and perhaps more importantly, both Chomsky and Foucault are political activists attempting to dismantle conservative epistemic structures.

For Chomsky, the ultimate justification for resistance to the current political system is that it represses our fundamental needs and does not allow for these vital needs to flourish and hence cannot be justified intrinsically. Foucault, on the other hand, finds some epistemological problem in the arguments of Chomsky. Foucault’s principal objection to Chomsky’s vision is that it is politically dangerous. The reason, quite simply, is that to advocate protesting, resisting and fighting, in the name of higher ideal, may morally and politically disastrous. For to fight in the name of something higher than ourselves and even our communities, may lead to the sacrifice of those very things that we hold most precious- those very things that we fight and even die for.

This paper tries to make a comparative analysis of these two contradictory visions with an intention to find whether there is any possibility of merging the two so as to evolve somewhat holistic approach.

An Examination of Chomsky’s Dissection of American Global Politics
And the Double speak of Mass Media

Ms. Sharada Mani .N ,Assistant Professor ,Department of English and Communications
Dravidian University, Kuppam - 517425

Noam Chomsky is one of the contemporary intellectuals who established his fame by his outstanding and unique contribution to linguistics which proved to be a turning point in the study of the discipline, no less than that of Ferdinand Sassure .To a majority of educated people he is known as a brilliant linguist but what many are not aware of is the constant intellectual public battle that he wages against any of the oppression ,exploitation and dehumanization that government indulges from time to time under the legitimized pretext of “for reasons of the state’’. The present hegemonic policies and global politics of the U.S. being one instance. He is a trenchant critic of American imperial ambition to control, reshape, regiment and monolithize non-American cultures on the model of its own culture and way of life not with any noble or altruistic motive but to induce its values of commercialization on other cultures in order to remote control them because ultimately culture is power .The mass media both printed and electronic play a collusive and conspiratorial role in generating the necessary myths and illusions suited to ruling class interests , censored, tailored and carefully purveyed by spin-doctors and self styled experts. He presents the darker and diabolic side of American violence, cruelty and crimes which present people of other nations and cultures as enemies of freedom and happiness and who are desperately bent upon destroying American way of life. This kind of black and white polarization mediated through mass media succeeds in fabricating public consent to the un-democratic and fascist policies pursued by power mongerers, the recent Iraq invasion being an instance of the unholy alliance between political power , oil lobby and arms industry. The purpose of the paper is to examine the sustained intellectual battle waged by Chomsky with documented evidence which he presents in a series of books like ‘American power and the new Mandarins’, ‘For reasons of the state’ and ‘Necessary illusion’ to unfold the hegemonic ,arrogant and intolerant mindset of American ruling class which is bent upon Americanizing the world in the name of globalization.

The Metaphysical and Aesthetic Implications of
Chomsky’s Linguistic Theories
Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan ,.Professor ,Department of English, Pondicherry University, Pondicherry.

Noam Chomsky’s renown is certainly more far-reaching than mere recognition within his own chosen field of specialization—Linguistics. If his profound and timely responses and interventions as an outspoken, left-leaning liberal intellectual in political (especially that which involves his mother country—USA), social, ideological, and philosophical spheres are anything to go by to gauge his international fame, Chomsky, no doubt, is among the leading intellectuals of the present day world. He single-handedly wrought a revolution within behaviourist empiricism by leading it very craftily towards a structuralist cognitivism.

Chomsky’s postulations of Competence and Performance (cf. with Saussure’s langue and parole) have, as I would argue in my presentation, tremendous importance in our understanding of the world (as I and Thou)—which would account for their significance in our epistemology, and further as I would lead on to argue, have very deep metaphysical implications—ie., in how we make sense of what we sense. When one considers the discipline of creativity and artistic creation, from the point of view of Chomsky’s formulation of the cognitive capacity of human beings, linguistic freedom and creativity are not some faculty that is acquired, but something that always already exists as a governing a-prioi.

Noam Chomsky on (Socially) Just Society
Dr. Prashant P. Bansode ,Department of Sociology ,University of Mumbai, Mumbai
Dr. P. Moorthy ,Dept of Politics and International Studies , Pondicherry University, Puducherry

Noam Chomsky is acknowledged as the father of modern linguistics. He is also widely known as political dissident, an anarchist and a libertarian socialist intellectual. As a liberal socialist intellectual his roots lie in classical liberalism that he applies in the era of advanced industrial society.
Libertarian socialism propagates creation of a just society, which is devoid of political, economic and social hierarchies where the coercive institutions and hierarchies are drastically reduced. It entails practically dismantling of illegitimate authority. Thus they believe that equality and freedom can be achieved by abolition of authoritarian institutions that own and control productive means and resources. The libertarian socialist propagates that means of production and resources would be shared by working class and society as a whole. Most importantly the libertarian socialism advocate doing away with the state altogether and relying on trade unions, worker’s council, municipalities and non-bureaucratic decentralized means of action and thus advocate anarchism.
Noam Chomsky is critical of American capitalist system and is sympathizer of anarco-syndicalism. On the other hand he is also critical of Leninist branches of socialism. He believes that society should be highly organized and based on democratic control of communities and work places. His ideas of libertarian socialism has come from two major influences Bertrand Russell and John Dewy who belonged to classical liberal tradition but had radical humanist ideas. Thus he retains their revolutionary character.
Here Noam Chomsky’s ideas of power and wage slavery are important to understand the social process of exclusion in society. This paper tries to understand these key ideas. Also here the attempt is made to understand Noam Chomsky as a proponent of libertarian socialism and his quest for creating a society based on freedom and social justice.

Manufacturing Consent by Delegitimising Dissents:
Kerala’s Left and Chengara Land Struggle

Jenson Joseph, Research Scholar, Department of Mass Communication
University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad.

This paper is about the malicious campaigns that the ruling Left government and its media carried out against a land struggle by the landless, majority of which are Dalits and adivasis, in Chengara in the south eastern district of Pathanamthitta in Kerala. Looking at the patterns of representation in the Left media of the struggle, its demands and its supporters, the paper would analyse how the Left parties in Kerala maintain a hegemonic dominance of class-based political movements in the region by delegtimising any social movement that are formed outside the domain of such a political ideology. The Chengara land struggle, along with similar struggles being waged mostly by Adivasis and Dalits in various parts of the state, can be seen as part of the new social movements that herald an important transformation in the dominant modes of political engagements in the region/country, which are either class-based or nationalist in nature. The land struggle is also significant because the protestors, mostly Dalits and Adivasis who live in small colonies under scarce living conditions, are demanding economic equality by laying claim on the right to own cultivable land, and refusing to remain mute recipients of ‘minimum entitlements.’ The left media termed the demands of the protesters at Chengara as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘illegal’, trying to prove that the struggle was supported and funded by Maoists, Naxalites and even CIA. It also termed the civil societal attempts to support the struggle as part of “a grand coalition of neo-liberal forces against Communism.” The indifference of the media in general towards the land struggle is clearly evident in the fact that almost all news items regarding the struggle was either about the ‘hostile conditions that the protestors are facing’, ‘the atrocities against the protestors’, or the routine versions from the government. The apathy of the media towards Chengara land struggle shows media’s inability to come to terms with the political ethos that a social movement like this brings forth. It is by holding on to the value of “neutrality” – supposedly one of the major ‘prerequisite’ for media practice – that the mainstream media refuse to engage with the new social movements like Chengara land struggle and their demands.

The paper would also suggest that there are crucial links between the emergence of identity-based social movements like Chengara struggle and the anxieties evident in the recent controversy about part of a revised text book introduced by the current left government in Kerala, as well as the CPI (M)’s decision to organise a ‘State Convention of Scheduled Castes’ in Kochi recently.

Chomskyan Analysis of Edward Said’s Orientalism
Dr. Azhagarsan, Department of English ,University of Madras, Chennai
This paper focuses on the multidisciplinary assumptions of Chomsky’s linguistics, especially his Syntactic Structures and attempts a Chomskyan analysis of Edward Said’s Orientalism. It tries to highlight how Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures that deals with the surface and deep structures has anticipated some of the findings of works belonging to different disciplines. It also analyses how Orientalism, a critique of power/knowledge and the western conception of knowledge has the resonance of Chomsky’s syntactic structures which reveals the embedded and implied power of discourse. This, in turn helps to situate his research on linguistic structures and their innate relationship to his political activism and his media criticism. This kind of an analysis contextualizes the significance and relevance of Chomsky’s linguistics which lends itself to a post-structural reading of texts.

Chomskyan Cognitivism and Linguistic:
Irreproachable Ideals for Restructuring the Educational Directions

Sankaranarayanan Paleeri, Lecturer in Education, NSS Training College,
Ottappalam, Kerala.

This paper makes an attempt to highlight the significance of Chomskyan concepts of linguistic and cognitivism in restructuring educational ideals and directions. His specific views on educational aspects are the need of the hour in education scenario especially in the context of globalization.
Chomsky’s 1959 review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior challenged the behaviorist approaches to studies of behavior and language dominant at the time and contributed to the cognitive revolution in psychology. It has been claimed that Chomsky’s analysis of Skinner's methodology and basic assumptions paved the way for the “cognitive revolution” in teaching methods and learning. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has affected the philosophy of language and mind. He focused on questions concerning the operation and development of innate structures for syntax capable of creatively organizing, cohering, adapting and combining language components.
These reflections and findings of Chomsky were supported the restructuring of classroom teaching-learning process not only in language but also in science and humanity subjects. His suggestions scaffold the adoption of innovative pupil centered methods including constructivist approaches in classroom teaching.
In his educational concerns based on linguistic, cognitivism and political theory, Chomsky has come out with specific views zeroed in on theory of value, knowledge, human nature, learning, transmission, society, opportunity and consensus. Certain aspects of knowledge and understanding are innate and knowledge is not explainable in terms of skills, habits, or dispositions. Human nature can create adverse and immoral effects on social life and also has the capacity to lead to selflessness and cooperation and sacrifice and support and solidarity, too. Humans can learn through a tough process of controlled inquiry and experimentation. Learning has to come from the inside. According to his theory of consensus, the person who makes the more convincing argument, assuming rationality, should convince the others.
All these views show clear-cut support for restructuring educational directions and execution of innovative changes in education in the aspects like planning of education, administration, curriculum, methods, organizing text book, classroom teaching and managing school atmosphere.

Noam Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals

Dr. S. Indira ,Reader in Philosophy, Pondicherry University ,Pondicherry

Noam Chomsky is one the leading intellectual figures of the modern times. He is famous for his contribution towards linguistics, Philosophy and other fields. He is a pioneer in the field of Psycho linguistics. He wanted to establish a new relationship between linguistics and psychology. He has shown that though there is immense complexity of the innumerable languages, there is only one human language. All of them are the variations of the one single theme. He has revolutionized linguistics. He also made analysis on the study of language and mind. He is best known for the linguistic theorizing and deep surface structure. He worked for the fundamental change towards our thinking. He also worked for the society based on cooperation. In this context I am presenting a paper on Chomsky’s ideas on Anarchism. He is a thinker and an independent critic. He wrote a famous essay by name, “The Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship”….Access to power and professionalism. It poses a serious threat to the integrity of scholarship in the fields that are struggling for intellectual content and also to the society at large. He believed that the best way to maximize our genetically endowed freedom is through Anarchism.


Rekha G Menon, Research Scholar (Philosophy), Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai -36,
Dr. N Sreekumar Assistant Professor (Philosophy), Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai -36,

Chomsky is well known for his critical attitude towards the postmodern philosophies. Focusing issues related to this covered in the famous Chomsky-Foucault debate, this paper tries to elucidate the basic difference in their understanding of human nature. On the other hand, Habermas argues for a certain fundamental structure that draws inspiration from Chomsky’s Generative Grammar. This paper tries to arrive at an understanding of the concept of human nature these philosophies advocate.

End of Ordinary Language Philosophy: Reviewing Chomskyan Stance

Dr. Vikram S. Sirola, Asst. Professor, IIT Bombay

Ordinary Language Philosophy (OLP) deliberates on the details and nuances of everyday linguistic practices. Their method of philosophizing evolves from the assumption that philosophical problems are rooted in misunderstanding the actual use of words in everyday language. These problems were seen to be either solvable or dissolvable by reference to ordinary practices in the larger context of human life and action. Though this tradition provided new tools for dealing with philosophical problems, and a sensibility to linguistic distinctions but as philosophical method it faced several criticisms. OLP holds that Language is governed by rules which are conventional (Wittgenstein), it is ‘learnt’ (Quine, Strawson, Dummett). Chomsky rejects this view and proposes his notion of ‘universal grammar’ which he claims is innate and part of our biological endowment. Language, accordingly, is not learnt but ‘acquired’. This gave rise to the debate between the ‘conventional view’ and ‘innate view’ of language’ which has occupied the centre stage in philosophy and linguistics. The paper looks into the debate and attempts to review the objections raised by Chomsky against OLP. Recognizing the importance of some of his remarks I shall also evaluate whether his criticism amounts to a complete dismissal of OLP or can it be taken to further OLP towards a better understanding of the nature of language and mind.

Noam Chomsky: Critique of American Foreign Policy

Dr. B. Krishnamurthy, Reader, Department of Politics and International Studies
Pondicherry University, PUDUCHERRY – 605 014.

The USA is labelled as the sole Super Power, a Hyper Power and an Omni Power in international politics and is criticised for its ambitions, arrogance, unilateralism and contempt for International Organisations. The declaration of the National Securities Strategy, September 17, 2002 announced very clearly and explicitly that the United States, at least the Bush administration, intends to dominate the world permanently, if necessary, through the use of force. Accordingly, the U.S. government arrogates to itself the right to attack any country it wants without credible pretext or without any international authorization. In fact, the National Security Strategy doesn't even mention international law and the Charter of the United Nations. Such a stand is welcomed and supported by the Neo-conservatives and Realists who go to the extent of maintaining that it is quite natural for a preponderant power to behave so.

Noam Chomsky is highly critical of such a stand in his writings and speeches. He questions the rationale behind the American foreign policy. He has criticised the American war on Vietnam earlier and on Iraq now. Through his highly analytical and objective approach he has successfully brought forth the fact that President Bush is bigger and more dangerous terrorist than Saddam Hussein and the US is a ‘terrorist state’. He has also exposed the hollowness of Bush’s claim that the US and Britain “share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest” and “seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings” and pooh-poohs the claim that the American foreign policy is ‘value-ridden’ and ‘value-driven’.

Chomsky’s Perspectives on Contemporary International Relations

Dr. K. M. Parivelan , Information Officer,UNDP, Chennai

This paper covers range of Chomsky’s political perspectives including some of his views on contemporary international relations. It is indeed useful to analyse the theoretical and philosophical framework he employs in all of his political writings, which is by and large underpinned by libertarian socialism. The core of that view is based on balancing and coexistence of liberty and equality in the realm of human nature as well as international politics. For Chomsky, the classic liberal tradition, with its roots in the enlightenment and its emphasis on freedom, is central in any definition of libertarian socialism. He perceives that if our society nurtured our creative potentials, our human nature would not quest for autonomy and self-determination, but rather ‘cooperative interdependence’, which is quite relevant prism to view the challenges emanating from globalisation and contemporary international politics. It is indeed interesting to note that Chomsky’s methodology is to probe the policies, testing for consistency and with reference to what he believes is good for the world. It is the systematic maintenance of the logical connection in his theory between his hopeful view of human need, his view of the good society, and his critique of existing trends in international relations. He has also been alleged by his ardent critics for mixing ‘reasoned analyses’ and ‘fabricating evidences’. Attempt will be made here to unravel this controversy vis-à-vis his views and perspectives on contemporary international relations.
Dr. R Murali , Head, Department of Philosophy ,The Madurai College, Madurai-11
Beginning with the fundamental principle that the exercise of violence against civilian populations is terror, regardless of whether the perpetrator is an underground network of Muslim extremists or the most powerful state in the world, Chomsky in stark and uncompromising terms, challenges the United States to apply to itself the moral standards it demands of others. Chomsky reviews the history of war crimes and delivers his now famous analysis of the double standards and hypocrisy of Western Governments and the role of the media and intellectuals.
Referring to military attacks by the United States on Nicaragua, he addressed the issue of definition of terrorism. He claims that he understood the term "terrorism" exactly as it is defined in official U.S. documents: the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to obtain objectives of a political, religious or ideological nature. Further, he observes that this is carried out through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.
As regards support for condemnation of terrorism, Chomsky opines that terrorism (and violence/authority in general) is generally bad and can only be justified in those cases where it is clear that greater terrorism (or violence, or abuse of authority) is thus avoided. In a debate on the legitimacy of political violence in 1967, Chomsky argued that the "terror" of the Vietnam National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) was not justified, but that terror could in theory be justified under certain circumstances Chomsky believes that acts he considers terrorism carried out by the U.S. government do not pass this test, and condemnation of U.S. policy is one of the main thrusts of his writings which he has explained is because he lives in the United States, and thus holds a responsibility for his country's actions.
He called the September 11 disaster “a historic event,” not because of its scale but because of the nature of the event itself. “This is the first time since 1814 where a national territory of United States is being attacked,” he said. “The guns have always been directed the other way.”
Chomsky pointed out that although most of the people in the Middle East and Islamic countries strongly disagree with Bin Laden’s terrorist actions, they certainly recognize and agree with some of his reasons for hating the United States. “They see America responsible for the death of thousands of Iraqis, for the suffering of Palestinians and for the policies which prevent economic development in these countries,” he said.

Though Chomsky claims that he does not ‘do’ any theory, that he does not have a theory, it can be argued that Chomsky’s approach does amount to a theory. In conventional political theory terms, it is neither conservative, liberal, socialist, Marxist nor libertarian. Neither is he a social constructivist, a post-structuralist or indeed a postmodernist. Nevertheless, his works rest on a theory, which logically correlates a critique of the present, a conception of the future good society, and notions of how to get there. Not only does Chomsky have a political theory, but he also openly and resolutely admits the variable of human nature, which for most social and political theorists remains only implicit.

Though it looks Chomsky is not constructing his theory with a sound methodology, one can find the rationalist tradition runs through his analysis. A self-avowed believer in "Cartesian common sense," the scientific method laid out by Descartes, Chomsky applies the following methodological rules - as described in David Cogswell's Chomsky for Beginners - in thinking logically towards reliable conclusions: "Accept only clear and distinct ideas. Break each problem into as many parts as necessary to solve it. Work from the simple to the complex. Always check for mistakes." His analytic technique has also been described as "the classic academician's accumulation of massive documentation, relying both on standard references and on sources that are frequently ignored by mainstream commentators and historians," with the method flavoured by the use of irony.

Chomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist. He prefers this term to the more ambiguous term anarchism to distinguish himself from right wing and/or relativist versions. For Chomsky, the classic liberal tradition, with its roots in the Enlightenment and its emphasis on freedom, is central in any definition of libertarian socialism. Indeed he argues ‘[i]f one were to see a single dominant idea, within the anarchist tradition, that might be defined as ‘libertarian socialist,’ it should be liberty’. However, for Chomsky, freedom is not central because his view of human nature involves a quest for autonomy, self-ownership and atomism, so typical of liberal and much libertarian thought. For Chomsky, the fundamental characteristic of human nature is creativity. It follows, for him, that human beings require conditions of freedom in order to cultivate their naturally creative capacities. These creative capacities do not in turn manufacture a need for autonomy and self-determination; rather they foster and demand the possibility of cooperative, interdependent mutuality. In other words, if our society nurtured our creative potentials, our human nature would not quest for autonomy and self-determination, but rather cooperative interdependence. Thus for Chomsky, liberty is the means by which we can achieve a non-statist socialist end.

Critical of the American capitalist system and big business, as a libertarian socialist he sympathizes with anarcho-syndicalism and is highly critical of Leninist branches of socialism. He also believes that libertarian socialist values exemplify the rational and morally consistent extension of original unreconstructed classical liberal and radical humanist ideas to an industrial context. Specifically he believes that society should be highly organized and based on democratic control of communities and work places. He believes that the radical humanist ideas of his two major influences, Bertrand Russell and John Dewey, were "rooted in the Enlightenment and classical liberalism, and retain their revolutionary character."
Despite his often distressing examination of the abuses of American power, Chomsky’s disposition is bright and his outlook is hopeful. He ends most speeches with a review of how much has been achieved by popular activism over the past several decades and how social change remains well within our grasp. Answer to the question that what one person do, one statement of Noam Chomsky’s cuts through a world of complexities and helps counteract the feeling of powerlessness that falls upon people trying to do the right thing in complex and dangerous world. Chomsky asks the intellectual to train their main so that they will not be duped. Ask them to practice critical thinking and asking questions. He considers the passive acceptance as a dangerous habit. He says that every day offers opportunities to exercise the critical faculties and pay attention to what is really being said and what is really happening. If attention is being paid to what is being heard and who is paying bills. He tells that human being are endowed with awesome capacities for perceiving and understanding their environment and those capacities are never more powerful than when they are engaged in survival. When you realize that your survival may be at stake, your energies focus. If you listen carefully and exercise you critical faculties, you can greatly enhance your changes of survival. Or you can choose to just play the game so that you stay in good with the power brokers. But who knows when it’s your turn to become part of the forgotten and abandoned ones?
Intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyse actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions. In the Western world, at least, they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom of expression. For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us... It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies... it is also his duty to see events in their historical perspective...
On the whole, Noam Chomsky has been engaged in political activism all of his adult life and expressed opinions on politics and world events which are widely cited, publicized and discussed. Chomsky has in turn argued that his views are those which the powerful do not want to hear, and for this reason he is considered an American political dissident.
This paper presents Chomsky’s critical analysis of terrorism and the true impact of militarism in the world today. It explores how he places terrorist acts in the context of American foreign intervention throughout the post war decades in Vietnam, Central America, The Middle East and elsewhere. While presenting his philosophy of war on terrorism, this paper also tries to find out his philosophical bearings in detail.

Chomsky: The critical Intellectual and Postmodernism
S. Siraj Ahmed , Senior lecturer, Dept. of English ,Sahydri Arts College
Kuvempu University ,Shimoga-577203 ,Karnataka,
Chomsky has written extensively on the evils of American foreign policy, media censorship and the complex issues of power and its manipulation by politicians and capitalists of all kinds. He was an activist himself briefly against the Vietnam War but he sees his role mainly as a resource to activists struggling for justice and democracy throughout the world.
He provides the analysis and the documentation for groups and individuals to act on. His work is an inexorable critique of thought control and regimenting of public mind. However, he says that "I don't think I'm in any position to tell people what to do ....If you tell people to get seriously involved in dissent, they're going to change their lives. This is not the kind of thing you can dip your toe into and then walk away from. If you're serious about it, it is going to affect you. I don't feel in any position to tell people how to make these choices."
Much of Chomsky’s work has been an examination of the role of intellectuals and their typical subservience to institutions of state and private capital. His writings exemplify the role of a critical intellectual and the significance of his dissent. He is very clear that intellectuals because of their privileged access to knowledge and thus power, have a moral duty to propagate the truth and expose lies in government actions and in the media. He is engaged in a, as Edward Said puts it, “protracted war between fact and a series of myths”.

It is in this context Chomsky has no sympathy for the Post modernist position which considers truth as a highly problematic category. He dismisses postmodernism’s claim of truth as illusory and says the role of a critical intellectual is to relentlessly dig out the facts and expose the falsity of people in power. I shall try to explore in the course of my paper how his work, repeatedly addresses the responsibility of an intellectual. It also tries to examine how Chomsky fashions his own intellectualism in opposition to Foucauldian postmodernism. I shall also argue how Chomsky’s work is primarily regarded as the basis of intellectual self-defense against dominant discourse of power and how his work has inspired several generations of activists, with its high regard for evidence and documentation.

Creativity as Human Nature: A Note on Chomsky-Foucault debate

Dr. T.V Madhu, Department of Philosophy, Sree Sankaracharya University, Kalady, Cochin, Kerala , Email:

The present paper is an attempt to understand the implications of Chomsky’s perspective on human nature. As a Matter of fact, Chomsky has never proposed any theory of human nature. But it is one of the presuppositions of his research that humans have a certain a priori or antecedent, innate characteristics. In 1975, he had a debate with Michel Foucault on the topic. At the heart of Foucault’s writings lies the conviction that there is nothing substantial about the concept of human nature. He consistently argues against any form of philosophical anthropology by claiming that we can never identify something called human nature. For him, subject is a discursive construct. Chomsky, in contrast to Foucault, is openly committed to the view that there is a fundamental dimension of creativity in human nature, and he seems to derive this view from his research in linguistics. But, following the debate, we see that both Foucault and Chomsky appear to agree on some points. How can there be agreement when the implications of both the perspectives seem to be diametrically opposed to each other? This question leads us to explore some of the crucial aspects of Chomsky’s concept of human nature. Chomsky assumes that there are some meeting points between his perspective and that of Foucault. We look at the validity of this assumption by assessing Chomsky’s argument that communitarian concept of subject is not completely outside the scope of his perspective on human nature. The actual point of his argument seems to be that the presupposition of his theory is not the autonomous individual, but human creativity which requires conditions that are free and cooperative. Humans have innate capacities but these are to be triggered depending on the social environment. We argue that the merits of his theory of human nature are to be assessed on the basis on his attempts of bridging the gulf between the concepts of constructed subject and creative subject, individual and society, structure and agency, freedom and equality etc.

Translation Studies and Philosophy of Language

Tharakeshwar V.B., Head,Department of Translation Studies ,Kannada University, Hampi ,Vidyaranya, Hospet,Karnataka-583 276

One of the key issues in Translation Studies is that of whether translation is possible or not. The debate is completely immersed in the theories of language and the debate in philosophy of language. There is a need to take an overview of the debate in philosophy of language and find its implications for the issue in Translation Studies.

There is also a renewed interest in Philosophy of language as evident in recent publications such as Language and Mind (2005) by Noam Chomsky, The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Language (2006), edited by Michael Devitt and Richard Hanley, Johann Geog Hamann’s Writings on Philosophy and Language (2007), edited and translated by Kenneth Haynes. In the light of developments in the field of Philosophy of language, the debate in Translation Studies has to get reconfigured.

The present paper is a modest attempt in this direction, mainly looking at the take on language by scholars such as Quine, F. de Saussure, Austin, J. L., John R. Searle, Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Mikhail Bakhtin, Derrida and, of course, Chomsky.

Covering Strike in the time of Globalisation
Anticommunism of the Indian Media

Ashokan Nambiar, CIIL, Mysore

In their now famous work Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman develops a propaganda model to understand and expose the intricacies of the functioning of mass media in the US, which often proclaims themselves as the spokesmen of free speech and public interest. The authors list out five ingredients of the propaganda model or the news “filters”, one of them being anticommunism, which functions as a national religion and control mechanism.

The opening up of the boundaries of the Indian nation-state to the global market forces during the early 1990s, and the neoliberal economic policies followed by the subsequent governments have drastically changed the realities of the nation and its people. The Indian mainstream media houses, most of them being run by private individuals and families, welcomed these changes as long as they do not pose any direct challenge to their interests. One of the welcoming changes for the private media houses was the promise of the additional advertisement income from the market forces. The shrinking news space and expanding advertisement space in newspapers has been one of the outcomes of these changes, another being the prominence of corporate interest news reports and articles.

In the context of globalization, it is important to investigate what becomes newsworthy and what not for the Indian media. This paper is an attempt to look at how the Indian mainstream media, especially newspapers, covered (or not covered or neglected) a recent nation-wide general strike called by the various trade unions of the mainstream left in India against the “anti-people” policies of the central government. The paper will also try to explore how the mainstream media creates, what Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman call, news “filters” in the Indian context to construct news of “national interests” and deviate the attention of the people from those real issues caused by the global economic forces.

Engels, Chomsky and Habermas: Question of Emanicipatory Linguistics

P. Sreekumar, Department of Linguistics, Dravidian University, Kuppam

This paper is an attempt to evaluate Noam Chomsky’s position on language in the light of an alternative proposal. The said alternative is proposed here as emancipatory paradigm on human language. Chomsky revolutionized modern linguistics with a well defined paradigm, which is incommensurable and an epistemological rapture in the history of the exploration on language. A critical evaluation of Chomsky’s position in the intellectual history needs urgent attention. Within the available provisions of the Chomskiyan paradigm, his position cannot be critically evaluated. This context legitimizes the proposal of emanicipatory paradigm. First part of the paper presents the basic premises of emancipatory linguistics formulated form the marginalized observations on language by Friedrich Engels and much articulated notion of universal pragmatics by Jurgen Habermas. Second part critically evaluates Chomsky’s position on language based on the premises of emanicipatory linguistics. Third part is devoted to define an interface between Chomskiyan paradigm and the paradigm of emancipatory linguistics.


B.N. Patnaik, Formerly Head of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Kanpur ,Email:

The activist writings of Chomsky place him in the league of writers that includes Russell, Camus, Pinter, Said, and Pamuk, among a host of others. Their concern is more with the here and now, than with the timeless and the universal, which distinguishes their writing from those of the major political thinkers. The paper maintains that this is not a drawback; it is just that the concerns of these two groups of writers are different. It is interesting to note that while in Chomsky’s work on Plato’s problem, the emphasis is on theory, in his work on Orwell’s problem the emphasis is on facts. The paper suggests that this is only to be expected, given the deeply humanitarian concerns that the latter has.

Chomsky speaks about the oppressed and the marginalized, but does not speak on behalf of any group; he refuses to be the spokesperson. His writing does not support any known and established ideology. However if one subscribes to the view that there can be no ideology-free writing in the relevant domain at least, then it is commitment to truth in some pragmatic, commonsensical sense of the term, in the domain of power. Such a commitment leads him to expose the machinations of power in order to make the common man aware of the same. The paper briefly critiques these.

Chomsky’s prose is basically intellectual but does not entirely lack passion. His prose is witty and forceful, and by and large simple and straightforward, although it shows an occasional use of irony. The density of facts and logical analysis in his writing might sometimes reduce its interest value, but such style is not without merit, attention is not diverted from facts to the language in which the same is expressed.
Social Movements in Contemporary India: Lessons from Chomsky

Patibandla Srikant, Research Scholar,Institute for Social and Economic Change
Nagarbhavi, Bangalore-5600072,Email:

In contemporary India, numerous struggles are going on against the state perceived notion of development. These grass-root social movements are fighting against the private capital linked with the global capital in the form of anti-dam and anti-industry. The state, however, is strong enough in countering such democratic movements through force, on which it has sole legitimacy. While these movements symbolise clearly the failure of mainstream ‘democratic’ political institutions, the state on the other instead of reforming the political institutions is increasingly going against such social movements. The question is why is the Indian state adopting confrontationist attitude towards such movements? Noam Chomsky has answered this question in the context of America. Taking clue from Chomsky, this paper argues that the Indian state is fast emerging as neo-imperialist power in the current global order. This can be amply proved by citing the free flow of capital from India in to other parts of the world, where the private capital has acquired many overseas firms and industries. It is here that Chomsky argues in the American context that in order to play a global role, it is vital to ‘silence’ such democratic voices. Giving the example of Vietnam, he argues that it is essential for the emerging imperial power to gain the support of democratic forces and institutions. In India such institutions are soft on the state and hence, alternatives are emerging in the form of social movements. These forms of rising protests are, for Chomsky, a symbol of hope. In India too such movements are a symbol of hope against the imperial designs of the Indian state.
Chomskeyan Rationalism: Continuity and Discontinuity

C. A. Tomy, Associate Professor, Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi -16

A systematic way of providing a naturalistic understanding of human nature and faculties was initiated by Descartes. However, many features of human human cognitive faculty remained stumbling blocks for Descartes' endeavor which forced him to adopt the view that there are two principles that constitute the human nature: the material and the mental. In the proposed paper, I shall discuss how Noam Chomsky carried forward the Cartesian project of naturalizing the human cognitive faculty. I shall attempt to do this with reference to Chomsky's version of rationalism where one would find certain continuities and discontinuities with Cartesian Rationalism. In consonance with Descartes’ theory of mind, Chomsky makes three interrelated claims about the principles responsible for the human capacity to use language; they are for him, (a) innate, (b) universal, (c) necessary. But Chomsky’s claim that his theory of language is within the Cartesian framework has been challenged by a few philosophers. According to David Cooper, for example, the three central notions, viz. , innateness, universality and necessity common to Chomsky and seventeenth century rationalists are employed by Chomsky in a way radically different from the rationalists’ use. I shall try to show that despite these differences, Chomskey's refinement of theses concepts do not amount to be a break with the Cartesian tradition.

Mediating Politics: The Political Economy of News Media in
Andhra Pradesh

Dr. Sathya Prakash, Lecturer, Depaartment of Mass Communication, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad.

Media operations seem to have become central to modern economy and polity. The corporate groups seem to need the media to access their markets through advertising. The dominant political groups in electoral democracies seem to need media for mass mediating politics and for building public consent. While the former looks at audiences as markets, the latter seems to look at the audiences as voters.

Meanwhile, news media business per se is not a viable business proposition. Especially so, in the case of language markets. In contrast to this economic rationale, the news media has had many new entrants in the past one decade in Andhra Pradesh and the local media scene is hyperactive. Every general election sees new additions to the stable of news media operators in the state. With ‘benami’ investors, and with money flowing from political parties, mining lobbies, real estate developers and contractors into print and television news industry, the political economy of news media business has become an exciting area of enquiry and contemplation.

This paper tries to map the trajectory of news media institutions in Andhra Pradesh in conjunction with the trajectory of political groups that dominate the state and its machinery and try to make observations that can help explain the seemingly not-so-rational economic behaviour of these news media businesses. The paper also tries to contemplate on the idea of mass mediating politics and on its long term consequences for Indian Democracy. In chomskian spirit the paper will also enquire into the causes and consequences of the shifting trajectory of news media institution from the claim of being an ‘autonomous entity’ to demonstrating that they have actively become ‘partisanal entities’.

Has There Been a “Chomskyan Impact” on Indian Minds
Meti Mallikarjun ,Dept.of Linguistics, Sahyadri Arts College, Kuvempu University
Shimoga – 577203,

Noam Chomsky Hailed as one of the most brilliant and influential intellectuals of the twentieth century, he has attracted international renown for his groundbreaking research into the nature of human language and communication. A prolific scholar and professor of linguistics who influences across the world and whose work is most cited which proves his intellectual credibility. His work produced what is referred to as the “Chomskyan Revolution,” a wide-reaching intellectual realignment and debate with implications that transcend formal linguistics to include psychology, philosophy, and even genetics. Chomsky is also an impassioned political dissenter whose controversial criticism of American society, the mass media, and foreign policy—especially its effects on ordinary citizens of Third World nations. Keeping the above cited insights this paper develops epistemological framework in order to bring out the way in which Chomsky influences/ed Indians both in socio-political and linguistics studies.
This paper does not attempt to review the whole influence of the Chomskyan thoughts on Indian minds. Instead, this will concentrate on just those aspects of its relevance is taken into consideration in understanding the ‘knowledge of Language’ in contemporary language studies at one hand. And, how far, Chomskyan socio-political thoughts are being influenced by Indians at the other hand.

A Chomskyan Program for Semantics:
Taking the ‘Middle’ Way

Dr. Pritha Chandra , Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

In this paper, I critically assess the externalist, model-theoretic, truth-conditional approach to natural language semantics - built on the lines of Frege 1892, Montague 1970 and Tarski 1933 - that has gained much popularity in recent years. Its ascent to fame, alongside a generative program for natural language syntax is surprising, given that this approach stands diametrically opposite to the internalist flavor of the latter (Chomsky 1977, 1995, 2000 inter alia). The discord between internalist syntax and externalist semantics therefore forces us to re-evaluate the basic claims of truth-conditional semantics and the attempts of its advocates to relegate meaning to the conditions that determine the truth or falsity of natural language sentences. The empirical domain of my research is the middle construction in English.
Davidson (1967) posits an event variable in the logical semantics of all action sentences. He argues that events resemble “things” in that they introduce a variable that can be modified and quantified over by different types of adverbials. Introducing an event variable or position to the semantic representation of each modifier captures how multiple adjuncts modify the event without changing the valence of each predicate. Recent studies have further shifted the event variable from the logical representations of sentences to their underlying syntactic representations.
I adopt one such syntactic account to explain the semantics of middle constructions in English. According to the Neo-Davidsonian approach that I follow here, there is an [e] argument in the syntactic representation of the main predicate of the clause, which is distributed among the modifiers as well as the individual arguments of the predicate. I claim that middle constructions – though they resemble intransitives in surface form – have underlying objects that ultimately surface as their grammatical subjects. Supporting evidence for this claim comes from telicity effects in middles, which are prototypically present with transitive verbs. Based on such empirical evidence, I then propose a double Asp-layered functional structure that captures the telicity effects and accomplishment readings in middles.
In the end, I argue that evaluating the meaning of a sentence is not equivalent to searching for its truth-conditions and that truth-conditional semantics lead us away from revealing the system underlying speakers’ intuitions about semantic relations like ambiguities, entailments and indexicals. A neo-davidsonian analysis that posits an event variable in the syntactic structure is a step towards the right kind of compositional, internalist semantics that linguistics should aspire for today.
Economy in Minimalism: How far it works for mixed forms?

Nivedita Kumari, Research Scholar, IIT, Chennai.

In the minimalist framework, lexicon has the numeration set, which comprises the lexical categories, functional categories and the inflectional and derivational suffixes. A monolingual speaker has this set made up of elements of the same language or so to say the code¹. However, based on this framework a bi/multilingual speaker has words, suffixes and functional categories from two or more languages. The present paper attempts to ask,
What are the levels at which Nouns of L2 mix with that of the L1?
What are the kinds of inflections that these Nouns take?
How is a mixed form derived through a mental lexicon that has a variety of elements from different languages?
What grammar does the mixed form follow?

The mixed forms here belong to the substratum language L2 English and the super stratum languages L1 Hindi, Japanese, and Maithili. The data were collected from various literary sources and the native speakers of the respective L1s. The patterns of Noun inflection found in the languages involved vary.

Against American Hegemony
Political Philosophy of Noam Chomsky

Dr. P. Kesava Kumar , Sr. Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, Pondicherry University
Puducherry, Email:

Chomsky and his political thought had grown with the anti Vietnam War movement of American students of 60s and had a great impact on generation of sixties. This spirit is consistently maintained in all his writings. He had a conviction that the role of intellectuals is to speak truth and expose lies. As an intellectual he had exposed the role of USA in terrorizing and exploiting the world. Chomsky inspired by the politics of anarchy, which is fighting against the system. He has inspired by the anarchic thinkers like Micheal Bakunin, Rudolf Rocker, and Marxist thinkers such as Karl Korsch and the struggles of Spanish civil war. To certain extent he is influenced by classical liberal scientist Humboldt and philosophers such as Bertrand Russell. Chomsky describes the Spanish conflict as the predominantly anarchic revolution, which was largely spontaneous, involving the masses of urban and rural labourers in a radical transformation of social and economic conditions that persisted, with remarkable success until it was crushed by force. The historical account on Spanish experience makes him not trust both the liberal and many Marxists. He documented the communist betrayal of Spanish anarchists and the consecuvent betrayal of Spanish revolutionary project itself.
Chomsky’s political writings are crucial and progressive in understanding the post –cold war world politics. Chomsky’s analysis of world politics grows out of his understanding of power and its significance for human freedom. Human beings, argues Chomsky, have a variety of innate capacities, of which the most fundamental ‘is the capacity and the need for creative self expression, for free control of one’s own life and thought’. He also regards it as ‘a fundamental human need to take part in the democratic control of social institutions’. Chomsky’s essentialism takes the view that human beings are inherently rational, creative and social. They therefore require conditions of freedom for cooperation toward humanistic endeavour. So states and capitalism work against human need because both concentrate power into the hands of a few denying the many the necessary conditions for cooperative, humanistic creativity.
It is difficult locate Chomsky in conventional traditions of political theory. He is neither conservative, liberal, socialist, Marxist nor libertarian. He identifies himself as ‘social libertarian’. As it is argued by Alison Edgley that chomsky’s libertarian socialist ideals of freedom and equality are not only consistent with human behaviour, but are indeed necessary for human beings to have the opportunity to live their full potential. Libertarian socialism is not simply a morally worth ideal; it is necessary state for the human condition. Chomsky put much more emphasis on freedom and reason. Today, the world politics are dominated by the America- new world order, order of liberal economy, transnational liberalism, empire of capitalist democracy. US foreign policy and imperialism are central to chomskyan politics.
This theory has been evolved from the struggles which are essentially anarchic. The general conception of anarchy is identified with chaos, violence, rebellion. Chomsky provides new meaning to anarchy. He argues that his kind of anarchism has to be understood from the historical context. For this he admires the Spanish civil war, which is against liberal capitalist and orthodox marxist traditions, but revolutionary. This paper makes an attempt to trace out the political philosophy of Chomsky and its relevance in contemporary debates of political philosophy. Chomsky’s political philosophy is committed to the pursuit of a logically driven rationalist position with a notion of social justice as its foundation. Chomsky explicitly identifies himself as a Cartesian rationalist, a view which ‘assumes that there are certain intrinsic properties of human nature’. Chomsky’s essentialism, it shall be argued, is not reductionist, homogenizing or deterministic. Rather, his essentialism enables us to form a judgement about the relative merits of one form of social organization over another. Chomsky’s position by contrast is logically informed by an essentialist claim for humanist social justice, namely freedom for creative and cooperative interdependence Chomsky’s view that ‘people have an instinct for freedom’, driven by their creative capacities, must be placed within a context: ‘[h]ow the freedom works depends on what the social structures are’. For Chomsky, however, freedom must include the freedom of access to material resources just as equality must include equality in decision-making processes. His good society, therefore, is, and can only be libertarian socialist. For Chomsky, the ideal form of social organization is one that minimizes external authority (anarchism) and allows for free association of individuals (syndicalism). The result, which he calls “libertarian socialism” or “anarchosyndicalism,” maximizes the opportunity to exercise autonomy, freedom, and creativity on the one hand, while finding friendship, solidarity, and love, on the other.
This paper evaluates the strength of his political thought in resisting the imperialist designs of the world order by the USA and the neo liberal market forces. Weather, his political theory is consistent or not is a question to be debated. Chomsky provides the political plat form to involve more and more people by distancing himself from both liberal and Marxists traditions, in the struggles resisting the hegemony of neo liberalism. More over, he serves a source of inspiration for many third world nations for his critical political writings on his own America.
The Biolinguistic Program: Where Does It Stand Today?
The immediate provocation for this note is a recent write-up by Noam Chomsky with the title The Biolinguistic Program: Where does it stand today? However, in this note I will make some remarks about Chomsky’s claims, methods, and pronouncements over half a century of influential publications and a very visible public life, with both of which I am vaguely familiar. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, surely the sincerest critique must be parody, and some of my remarks may reflect this conclusion.
Chomsky views human language as a particular object of the biological world, and creates another myth about its birth among mankind. He only couches it in the language of science, speaking of perspectives, fruitful research programs, discoveries, arguments, evolution and compelling evidence. This organ of the body which Chomsky ‘argues’ for is long on claims, but as short or long in explanatory adequacy as other myths of the birth of language. And it is this imbalance between claims and explanatory adequacy which makes the organ limp. Hence, Chomsky’s limp organ argument.

Minding Mind

Ranjit Singh Rangila, CIIL, Mysore ,

The contribution deals with mind modeling as an issue in cognitive sciences. It flows from the vision of C-semiology (Rangial 2000, 2008), which holds that every act, fact, concept, percept, typology gets created to participate in life, as it is sourced through civilization. That places the creations in a framework of value called ‘the civilized’. Mind is conceptualized as a facility that supports the vision.

To begin with the issue is raised with reference to language sciences. Two positions on mind, namely, that of Panini and Chomsky, are considered for critical scrutiny. Other than appreciating their contribution to mind modeling, the move helps to place Panini’s intuition among contemporary concerns, and Chomssky’s work gets placed in the history of human intellectual civilization.

Then the writing opens up the issue to the general problematic of human creative behaviour as such. It proposes architecture of mind that is anchored in ‘sites’ located in the spread of body-brain. The sites act as the local sources, as well as, resources of mind. They are equipped with their calculi and hence work on base memory and response data. Each site in action churns out ‘knowledge data’ that runs into multiple series.

The sites act in consonance under the demands of mind and help it to conduct readings of the available matrices of knowledge data to arrive at reference, inference and interpretation. This leads to creation of conceptual structures, including linguistic structures, and response modalities (to deal with situations).

The conceptual structures are valued through the suitability scanning that is jointly conducted by consciousness, cognition and sociality. These three constitute a platform that is beyond sites, though sites feed both knowledge data that gets consolidated into conceptual structures. It is the platform that decides the ‘wise locality’ status of the received data.

Depending on the resourceful valuation received from the platform mind stands for the ‘I’ and decides to place something as a creation or/and as a created response as the situational make up may workout.

On technical side the writing takes up Plato’s will for involving geometry in scientific creations in a big way. As is the practice in C-semiology, it takes geometry in its configurational sense and makes its productive use in mind modeling.

Contribution of Noam Chomsky:
Towards Machine Translation

Kommaluri Vijayanand, Sr. Lecturer, Department of Computer Science,
Pondicherry University, Puducherry – 605 014. Email:

Machine Translation (MT) system depends upon the grammar that has been defined for the languages chosen. Noam Chomsky who a legendary for his excellent writings in linguistics and radical politics, his inspiring teaching and technical brilliance had contributed towards the generative grammar and linguistics that had laid foundation to the on going research activity in Computer Science against Natural Language Processing. The nature of learning derived by Noam Chomsky had brought out the transformational syntax and tried to build a universal grammar. Chomsky’s hope for the prospects of engaging Information theory had served the linguistic theory. The properties of grammar found consistently among human languages that are arguably taken by the human language faculty as desirable characteristics of grammar, would be discovered by linguists, on Chomsky’s view. Whenever a Computational Linguist fires a linguist, the performance of the MT system improves. This paper presents the significance of Noam Chomsky’s contribution that lead to development in the area of MT specifically.

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