• schopenhauer1
    10.3k
    Hello Professor Chomsky,
    Do you think that the debate between theories of "innate cognitive structures" (like the "merge" function), and theories of social and cultural transmission, as represented by Michael Tomasello can be reconciled? Can the "nativist" and "empiricist" views be reconciled? Is there starting to be a consensus in the linguistic and cognitive science departments regarding these views?
  • BC
    13.3k
    You have lived under the republican/democrat two party nation in the USA. I have lived under the tory/labour two party nation in the UK. Party politics has failed in my opinion.universeness

    You might want to focus your question a bit more. Chomsky has long described American politics as a one-party state. Dems and Reps form two wings of pro-business policy. There are no third party contenders of even remote significance.

    A question I would ask you (Universeness) is whether you think the Tories and Labour are essentially the same thing.

    Do you think we need a new politics? Do you think it would be progressive to remove all political parties from politics and governance? Do you think 'Vote for a person, not a party,' should become the loudest political clarion call?universeness

    Can we get a "new politics" with the same economic structure we have now?
  • BC
    13.3k
    Professor Chomsky: Is there such a thing as "artificial intelligence" residing in a server farm? Are the AI programs "intelligent" or are they merely mimicking human communication? IS "AI" wishful thinking on the part of corporate executives?
  • invicta
    595
    If linguistics is inherently limited in expressing the fullness of human emotion/experience are then non-linguistic expressions also limited by the familiarity of experience between the transmitter and receiver in human communications?

    I’ve gone over my quota of questions but would be a fun one to ask.
  • universeness
    6.3k

    Thanks for your interest BC.

    Chomsky has long described American politics as a one-party state. Dems and Reps form two wings of pro-business policy. There are no third party contenders of even remote significance.BC

    I understand the valid point you make. In the video I posted, Noam even describes his opinion, that within European politics, Bernie Sanders would be considered a centrist or even centre right politician. However, my question relates to Noam's opinion of ANY form of party politics, (based on the fact that I think it has utterly failed) and is not really related to any perceived common ground between different political parties.
    I also don't think it's valid, to compare the common ground between the republicans and democrats to any existing one party system, such as Russia, China or North Korea etc, but if I am wrong and Noam does think that would be a valid comparison, then I am sure he will confirm that himself, if he chooses to answer my question.

    A question I would ask you (Universeness) is whether you think the Tories and Labour are essentially the same thing.BC
    No I don't, at least at a fundamental level. BUT, I do agree that some in the labour party are a true shade of political blue. Thatcher's statement that Tony Blair was her greatest achievement, is a very bitter pill for me, as I think it is broadly true and I utterly despise Thatcher and everything she was and stood for.
    I also think that Keir Starmer is a similar shade of blue to Tony Blair. But I think there are many on labours current front bench, such as Angela Rayner, who are true socialists.
    I think the main difference between the tories and labour in the UK remains that only labour offers some hope for the majority, to gain improvement in the provision of their basic needs and rights.
    The tories remain fundamentally, the lacky's of the rich.

    Can we get a "new politics" with the same economic structure we have now?BC
    I advocate for UBI (as a stopgap system) and the eventual rejection of 'BIG' capitalism on a global, international and national scale. I advocate for the termination of the money trick. I also advocate for global unison and a resource based, currency free, economy. I think the removal of party politics would be a big step in the correct direction towards those goals. BUT, I do accept your point, that the current global economic system, makes any effort towards dismantling party politics far more difficult to get started anywhere. I never claimed it would be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is, imo.

    You might want to focus your question a bit more.BC

    I welcome any suggestions you have on how I might 'focus' my question BC. Perhaps we could exchange on it, until we arrive at a more finely tuned 'joint' question.
  • Jamal
    9.2k


    Please start another thread if you want to have a discussion. This thread is solely to collect questions.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k
    That's fantastic as he is such an important thinker. I haven't written on the forum for a while as I have a broken elbow but I hope to be able to interact with Chomsky.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k
    I can't stop myself from asking if Chomskybot will participate. Sorry.
  • ssu
    8.2k
    Great job guys getting him here! If still room for a question, here's mine:

    Professor Chomsky, your first political book was The Responsibility of Intellectuals published in 1967 and you have been a long time critic of US foreign policy. After over five decades participating in the public debate, how would you describe how the role of intellectuals, academic or otherwise, in the public debate and decision making? How has the public debate about foreign policy has evolved in your view?
  • god must be atheist
    5.1k
    Assuming that AI driven technology, producing, manufacturing and distribution systems will make those social structures redundant that are organized to exploit humans by some other humans; and assuming that there will be enough of everything, humans can possibly want for themselves, to go around to everyone; will the social structure of present (capitalism and other hierarchical social structures) be transformed to complete and satisfactory communism, or else will there be a huge struggle to achieve this? My skepticism is based on 1. Human values as ingrained at present, mainly around personal property and 2. human nature as a species of individuals all trying to climb ideally to the top of the hierarchical structures.

    If there is room for more discussion on this, please ask him how those values and valuables will be handled in a complete, pure and satisfactory communist structure of society that can't be distributed at will, such as good looks, sexual powers and attractiveness, personal strength, smarts and creative artistic and philosophical might?
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    518
    Professor Chomsky, as a millennial I have increasingly lost hope in politics. The Conservative Party here in Britain win election after election, and we have seen the prolonged character assassination of a kind and honest opposition leader, leading to him losing the last two elections. His own party's establishment took part in this, and have retaken control and kicked him out of the parliamentary party - a party he has belonged to for about fifty years. Do things change for the better? Is there hope for the left in politics?
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    Is there any particular area of philosophical thought you feel is frivolous?
  • Outlander
    1.9k
    Got a good one.

    What question would you ask any historic philosopher? Who would it be, and why? Multiple choices are allowed.

    (may or may not have been inspired by the previous questioner)
  • Daemon
    591
    Richard Ngo is a researcher at OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT. He was recently interviewed by the 80,000 Hours podcast. I quote from the introduction to the podcast:

    One way to think about 'understanding' is as a subjective experience. Whether it feels like something to be a large language model is an important question, but one we currently have no way to answer.
    However, as Richard explains, another way to think about 'understanding' is as a functional matter. If you really understand an idea you're able to use it to reason and draw inferences in new situations. And that kind of understanding is observable and testable.
    Richard argues that language models are developing sophisticated representations of the world which can be manipulated to draw sensible conclusions — maybe not so different from what happens in the human mind.
    We might feel reluctant to say a computer understands something the way that we do. But if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, we should consider that maybe we have a duck, or at least something sufficiently close to a duck it doesn't matter.


    I would like to ask Professor Chomsky whether ChatGPT works in the same way as the human mind, whether it feels like something to be a Large Language Model.
  • Maw
    2.7k
    Very cool
  • Banno
    23.5k
    Dear Professor Chomsky,

    Are there analytic statements? And if so, in virtue of what might they considered to be analytic?

    The SEP supplement Analyticity and Chomskyan Linguistics shows evidence for what Georges Rey suggests is a vacillation on your part, supporting analyticity in some places, rejecting it in others.
    Rey suggesting that perhaps analyticity resides in a framework of concept or belief rather than in our semantics. Have you some sympathy for this view?

    We have had some discussion of the issue in this forum.

    I, and others here, would be grateful for any light you might care to shed on this issue.

    Thank you in anticipation.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    Professor Chomsky, I've had this question for quite a while now, and this seems the perfect opportunity:

    "Many believe that the human is born a blank slate having no innate capabilities. As with Skinner's Behaviourism, they believe that everything is learnt from the environment, including language.

    What is the best argument we can use to persuade the Behaviourist of the impossibility that everything we know has been learnt from the environment without any foundation of certain innate abilities already built into the physical structure of the brain?"
  • hypericin
    1.5k
    Professor Chomsky,

    To what extent is American political dysfunction a product of structural features of a voting system which inevitably leads to a two party duopoly? Does reform, perhaps in the form of ranked choice voting, offer a ray of hope? Should more activist attention focus here?
  • creativesoul
    11.6k
    Professor Chomsky:

    Hello! Welcome to the forum. Many of us are very happy to have you. Given that your expertise spans many different fields of study, I expect that you'll see a vast array of questions. I'd like to focus this question on philosophy. Would you please share your view regarding the currently popular topic of consciousness? In particular, I hope to have you shed light on the so called 'Hard Problem'. I'm familiar with your view on it, but I believe that it would be beneficial to the overall philosophical community if you could explain your view regarding the 'Hard Problem' on this forum.

    Thank you in advance, and for the public service(s) you've provided throughout your lifetime.
  • Kevin Tan
    85
    My God, compliments to the people who run The Philosophy Forum. This is absolutely astonishing!

    My question: How are we going to regulate Earth in a functional way?
  • dimosthenis9
    846
    Congratulations to the ones who run the site for this.Really that is really something for the site.It is an achievement which moves the site one step forward and some people worked for that.
  • Mikie
    6.4k
    Alright everyone— last call on questions. One more week.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    Does that mean that Noam Chomsky will only reply to questions which have been raised so far on this particular thread? I was coming from the angle that he would have more of a live presence like David Pearce did.

    I may be expecting too much from such an important figure, so it is useful for know whether he will only look at what has been raised on the thread as I am wondering whether it will be closed, and whether a new one will be started for when he engages on the site. I was hoping that the thread here would be a starting point and that questions could emerge in relation to points which he makes.
  • Mikie
    6.4k
    Does that mean that Noam Chomsky will only reply to questions which have been raised so far on this particular thread? I was coming from the angle that he would have more of a live presence like David Pearce did.Jack Cummins

    First part is correct. He will not be here live.

    I may be expecting too much from such an important figure, so it is useful for know whether he will only look at what has been raised on the thread as I am wondering whether it will be closed, and whether a new one will be started for when he engages on the site. I was hoping that the thread here would be a starting point and that questions could emerge in relation to points which he makes.Jack Cummins

    Questions are for this thread and he’ll respond to them. I’m sending them along soon. So if you have one, I’d put one forward within the week.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    Okay, I will offer a couple of questions:
    1. To what extent is humanity on the verge of totalitarianism?
    2. Is AI too heavily invested in as a solution for many problems and overvalued in philosophy circles?
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    Dear Professor Chomsky, thank you very much for sharing your time and thoughts with us here.
    (How often does one see a Hall-of-Famer still hitting home runs? :smile: )

    You have described the two United States political parties as two wings of the same Business Party.

    QUESTION: What kind of political party reforms (along with election and campaign reforms) would temper (or at least restrain a little) the approaching reality of corporate interests (both domestic and foreign) ‘owning’ or ‘calling the shots’ for the US President, Congress, and Judges?

    In other words… Is the US government as ‘bought and paid for’ as they appear to the average citizen?
    If so, where to begin making any sense of it, and hope to develop a counter-plan?

    I’d think that this is almost certainly an unwelcome topic to those with the billions. Those in the spotlight would rather talk about absolutely anything else, and will spew defensive nonsense in response. Or blame ‘other officials’ (usually their rivals) for all of the corruption.

    And obviously, this a radical change… down to the very roots of current government and business relations.

    Thank you again, sir! :flower:
  • Mikie
    6.4k
    Going to close the thread for now. Thanks for all your questions. Any last minute ones I'll try to squeeze in, just PM me.
  • Mikie
    6.4k
    I wanted to add this for anyone else that was curious about why it never came to fruition. This is from Bev Stohl, Chomsky’s long-time assistant:

    The family line is that he’s resting. Let me add that he’s slowly recuperating from a June event following Daniel Ellsberg’s death. My guess is that he exhausted himself answering emails, probably forgot to hydrate, maybe forgot to sleep, walk around, take some deep breaths.

    It was precisely June when he was supposed to get to the Forum’s questions. Just bad timing, unfortunately. Norman Finkelstein has said something similar. They’re all being very respectful of his condition, and won’t divulge anything beyond generalities like this.

    Of course I very much wish him well.
  • AmadeusD
    2k
    It seems im a serious minority but - gross lol
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