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More concluding thoughts

Posted by: Hank on February 14, 19100 at 12:14:21:

In Reply to: Concluding thoughts posted by Barry Stoller on February 11, 19100 at 19:43:20:

#1: Yeah, strict Behaviorism has been discredited but what is dominant today in American academia is the behaviorist bias for collecting and arranging data over trying to develop explanatory theories. This is true for a lot of reasons, one of which is that reams and reams of data (taped dinner conversations, for example, like Deborah Tannen)@give mediocre minds a lot to do.

Do a google search and type in the names "Chomksky Skinner" or "Chomsky Behaviorism" and you'll see. While you're there, be sure to read Skinner's "My Behavior as a Scientist"--an informal letter to a student, I think, in which he discussed all the criticism he'd received with grace and aplomb.

Another thing you could do is type in "Chomsky Botha"for Rudolph P. Bothwell. This guy spent half his professional life arguing against Chomsky, only to decide Chomsky was right. He wrote an interesting, playful book which outlines the history of the argument called "Challenging Chomsky: The Generative Garden Game." Maybe check that out. Or look for Behaviorists calling Cognitive Scientists "Cognitive Astrologists."

#2 Alongside the rule that one should carelessly toss the word 'fascist' around is the rule that one shouldn't carelessly REPORT of others carelessly throwing the word 'fascist' around. Nowadays, the word 'fascist' seems little more than a college-boy "fuck you" so I shouldn't have written that they wrote articles calling him one. Chomsky has been called one for a variety of reasons--notably in the "Faurisson Affair" when Chomsky, along with hundreds of others, signed a petition which called for the rights of an author to publish a book which denied the Holocaust. Also Chomsky, a Jew, consistently speaks out against Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians and its militarism. He also put Pol Pot into context. but has been subject to smears from the right and left on that one. It comes with the territory.

This was not a major point, except that people call Chomsky names the same reason they call Barry Stoller names. Just like it's "Stoller=Leninism=making everyone the same=subsuming the invididual=fascist", with Chomsky it's "Chomsky=innateness=Universal Grammar=making all languages the same=subsuming the individual=fascist."

Then again, Stoller does (in my judgement) carelessly lumps Chomsky with Ayn Rand just because they both had the temerity to reject Skinner, but Stoller could have noted Chomsky and Rand did so for entirely different reasons. Then Stoller called Chomsky a "well-paid character assassin", but he didn't note that Chomksy is paid for work as a linguistics professor at MIT (an irony which doesn't excape him), and not for his political work. Skinner's name hardly even comes up any more, as indeed Behaviorism doesn't. Some of the people Chomsky savages personally include Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Robert Macnamara, Bill Clinton, etc, etc.

Stoller: Now then: ' are humans also born with a moral device'? Absolute morality, like the tired old case for a constant 'human nature' is reactionary.

Hank: I never said absolute morality and I would never say human nature except in the loosest sense. I said moral device and I disagree that it is reactionary. I will make my case in another post.

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