Ideas of Noam Chomsky, by Theme

[American, b.1928, Professor at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Teacher of Fodor.]

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2. Reason / F. Fallacies / 8. Category Mistake / c. Category mistake as semantic
Chomsky established the view that category mistakes are well-formed but meaningless
     Full Idea: The view of Chomsky in 1957 that category mistakes are syntactically well-formed but meaningless is a very standard one.
     From: report of Noam Chomsky (Syntactic Structure [1957]) by Ofra Magidor - Category Mistakes 1.3
     A reaction: I'm going off the idea that they are meaningless, largely because I am beginning to sympathise with the view that any composition of meaningful components is meaningful (even if blatantly false).
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 2. Origin of Concepts / c. Nativist concepts
Chomsky now says concepts are basically innate, as well as syntax
     Full Idea: Chomsky now contends that not only the syntax of natural language but also the concepts expressible in it have an innate basis.
     From: report of Noam Chomsky (Chomsky on himself [1994]) by E.J. Lowe - Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind Ch.7 n25
     A reaction: This seems to follow Fodor, who has been mocked for implying that we have an innate idea of a screwdriver etc. Note that Chomsky says concepts have an innate 'basis'. This fits well with modern (cautious) rationalism, with which I am happy.
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 1. Syntax
Syntax is independent of semantics; sentences can be well formed but meaningless
     Full Idea: In 1957 Chomsky argues that syntax is an independent field from semantics. …To support this claim he argues that the now-famous category mistake 'Colourless green ideas sleep furiously' is grammatical but meaningless.
     From: report of Noam Chomsky (Syntactic Structure [1957]) by Ofra Magidor - Category Mistakes 1.3
     A reaction: I'm tempted by the thought that this famous sentence actually is meaningful, although the meaning is fragmentary, and any proposition which can be assembled from it appears to be blatantly false.
Chomsky's 'interpretative semantics' says syntax comes first, and is then interpreted
     Full Idea: Chomsky and his followers (whose position was labelled 'interpretative semantics') claimed that a sentence is first assigned a syntactic structure by an autonomous syntactic module, and this structure is then provided as input for semantic interpretation.
     From: report of Noam Chomsky (Aspects of the Theory of Syntax [1965]) by Ofra Magidor - Category Mistakes 1.3
     A reaction: This certainly doesn't fit the experience of introspecting speech, but then I suppose good pianists focus entirely on the music, and overlook the finger movements which have obvious priority. But I don't know the syntax of the sentence when I begin it.