Noam Chomsky: American Socrates

It is said about Noam Chomsky that he has been to the study of language what Isaac Newton was to the study of gravity after the apple hit his head. Chomsky had the “aha!” insight: that the power of language is born in our biology—it’s not acquired. Chomskyan linguistics came to explain how the human species alone got that gift of language.

But it’s not the only reason Professor Chomsky is on our minds this summer of 2023. Frail and quiet approaching his 95th birthday in the fall, he has been for half a century the model of Socrates in the American square: the public pest with questions that sting. So we are listening again to some of our best conversations with this fortress of science and political dissent. This one was in his MIT office in 2017.

Guest List
Noam Chomsky
Linguist and political critic.
Beverly Stohl
Author of Chomsky and Me.
Robert Barsky
Professor of English and French Literatures at Vanderbilt University.

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