60 Amazing Noam Chomsky Quotes on Life, Education, Love, and Language That Will Make You Wonder About Things

60 Amazing Noam Chomsky Quotes on Life, Education, Love, and Language That Will Make You Wonder About Things
Noam Chomsky Quotes - Photo by David Sillitoe from Flickr

Tripboba.com - Language is definitely one of the most fun things to learn about. By mastering the language, you won’t have difficulties whenever you’re traveling to countries. You can even become a linguist just like the American linguist, Noam Chomsky.

Noam Chomsky is a well-known personality, an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, social critic, historian, and political activist. Sometimes, he is referred to as "the father of modern linguistics."

Not only that, but Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science, as well as the man behind over 100 books, including “Hegemony or Survival.”

You can learn numerous things from this man, whether it’s about language, love, God, and of course his way of learning languages. Learn about him from the following Noam Chomsky quotes Tripboba is providing today!

Noam Chomsky Education Quotes

Noam Chomsky Quotes - Photo by AUB University Libraries from Flickr

We bet you must have heard about Noam Chomsky. If you haven’t, it’s because of the fact that he goes against mainstream thought and he has criticized the actions of US government as well as mainstream media.

He is one of the most quoted scholars in history. And not only that, even the NY times has described him as the “top intellectual alive.”

In this section, Tripboba is going to share some of the best Noam Chomsky quotes on educations.

  • “The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”
  • “There have been many measures taken to try to turn the educational system towards more control, more indoctrination, more vocational training, imposing a debt, which traps students and young people into a life of conformity... That's the exact opposite of [what] traditionally comes out of The Enlightenment. And there's a constant struggle between those. In the colleges, in the schools, do you train for passing tests, or do you train for creative inquiry?”
  • “Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can't afford the time to think.”
  • “Because they don't teach the truth about the world, schools have to rely on beating students over the head with propaganda about democracy. If schools were, in reality, democratic, there would be no need to bombard students with platitudes about democracy. They would simply act and behave democratically, and we know this does not happen. The more there is a need to talk about the ideals of democracy, the less democratic the system usually is.”
  • “Education is a system of imposed ignorance.”
  • “How it is we have so much information, but know so little?”
  • “Most problems of teaching are not problems of growth but helping cultivate growth. As far as I know, and this is only from personal experience in teaching, I think about ninety percent of the problem in teaching, or maybe ninety-eight percent, is just to help the students get interested. Or what it usually amounts to is to not prevent them from being interested. Typically, they come in interested, and the process of education is a way of driving that defect out of their minds. But if children[‘s] … normal interest is maintained or even aroused, they can do all kinds of things in ways we don’t understand.”
  • “Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt, it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy.”
  • “Descriptive grammar is an attempt to give an account of what the current system is for either a society or an individual, whatever you happen to be studying.”
  • “Far from creating independent thinkers, schools have always, throughout history, played an institutional role in a system of control and coercion. And once you are well educated you have already been socialized in ways that support the power structure, which, in turn, rewards you immensely.”
  • “Education must provide the opportunities for self-fulfillment; it can at best provide a rich and challenging environment for the individual to explore, in his own way.”
  • “It doesn't matter how much you learn in school; it's whether you learn how to go on and do things by yourself. And that can be done at any level.”
  • “My intellectual achievement was retarded when I went to high school. I sort of sank into a black hole because I had to go to the high-achieving, academic public high school.”
  • “I happened to go to a school when I was a kid and that's all we did, pursue our own interests. It was kind of structured so you ended up knowing everything you were supposed to know, arithmetic, Latin, whatever it was. But almost always it was under your own initiative.”
  • “When I was in high school, I asked myself at one point: "Why do I care if my high school's team wins the football game? I don't know anybody on the team, they have nothing to do with me... why am I here and applaud? It does not make any sense." But the point is, it does make sense: It's a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority and group cohesion behind leadership elements. In fact, it's training in irrational jingoism. That's also a feature of competitive sports.”

Noam Chomsky Quotes on Capitalism

Noam Chomsky Quotes - Photo by AUB University Libraries from Flickr

Noam Chomsky has also stated his opinion on capitalism, which you will see through Noam Chomsky quotes in this section. This is a good opportunity to look and understand at what he said about the matter.

Without further ado, here are Noam Chomsky quotes on capitalism:

  • “Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are, in principle, under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist, that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level. [...] Just as I'm opposed to political fascism, I am opposed to economic fascism. I think that until the major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it's pointless to talk about democracy.”
  • “A basic principle of modern state capitalism is that costs and risks are socialized to the extent possible, while profit is privatized.”
  • “Anarcho-capitalism, in my opinion, is a doctrinal system which, if ever implemented, would lead to forms of tyranny and oppression that have few counterparts in human history. There isn't the slightest possibility that its (in my view, horrendous) ideas would be implemented, because they would quickly destroy any society that made this colossal error. The idea of 'free contract' between the potentate and his starving subject is a sick joke, perhaps worth some moments in an academic seminar exploring the consequences of (in my view, absurd) ideas, but nowhere else.”
  • “Under capitalism, we can't have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control.”
  • “What is called 'capitalism'is basically a system of corporate mercantilism, with huge and largely unaccountable private tyrannies exercising vast control over the economy, political systems, and social and cultural life, operating in close cooperation with powerful states that intervene massively in the domestic economy and international society.”
  • “In the moral calculus of currently prevailing state capitalism, profits and bonuses in the next quarter greatly outweigh concern for the welfare of one’s grandchildren, and since these are institutional maladies, they will not be easy to overcome. While much remains uncertain, we can assure ourselves, with fair confidence, that future generations will not forgive us our silence and apathy.”
  • “Capitalism’s concept of competitive man who seeks only to maximize wealth and power, who subjects himself to market relationships, to exploitation and external authority, is anti-human and intolerable in the deepest sense.”
  • “The Bolshevik revolution was a counter-revolution. Its first moves were to destroy and eliminate every socialist tendency that had developed in the pre-revolutionary period. Their goal was as they said; it wasn't a big secret. They regarded the Soviet Union as sort a backwater. They were orthodox Marxists, expecting a revolution in Germany. They moved toward what they themselves called "state capitalism," then they moved on to Stalinism. They called it democracy and called it socialism. The one claim was as ludicrous as the other.”
  • “Capitalism denies the right to live. You have only the right to remain on the labour market.”
  • “Half the population hold that the government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves, as polls regularly show.”
  • “Capitalism would self-destruct in no time. So the business classes have always demanded strong, straight intervention to protect the society from the destructive effects of market forces because they don't want everything destroyed.”
  • “We had one or another form of state capitalism during an extremely brief period of human history, which tells us essentially nothing about human nature. If you look at human societies and human interactions, you can find anything. You find selfishness, you find altruism, you find sympathy.”
  • “Predatory capitalism created a complex industrial system and an advanced technology; it permitted a considerable extension of democratic practice and fostered certain liberal values, but within limits that are now being pressed and must be overcome. It is not a fit system for the mid-twentieth century.”
  • “With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unanticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging social order.”
  • “As far as Marx's analysis of capitalism, there's a lot of very useful ideas in it, but he's developing an abstract model of 19th century capitalism. It's abstract and it's changed.”

Noam Chomsky Quotes God

Noam Chomsky Quotes - Photo by dolorespriem from Flickr

Now, you will read more about Noam Chomsky quotes as we’re sharing quotes related to religion, God, the Bible, as well as other inspirational quotes.

Let’s see them below:

  • “How do I define God? I don't.... People who find such conceptions important for themselves have every right to frame them as they like. Personally, I don't.”
  • “...if you ask me whether or not I'm an atheist, I wouldn't even answer. I would first want an explanation of what it is that I'm supposed not to believe in, and I've never seen an explanation.”
  • “The Bible is one of the most genocidal books in history.”
  • “Since Jimmy Carter, religious fundamentalists play a major role in elections. He was the first president who made a point of exhibiting himself as a born again Christian. That sparked a little light in the minds of political campaign managers: Pretend to be a religious fanatic and you can pick up a third of the vote right away. Nobody asked whether Lyndon Johnson went to church every day. Bill Clinton is probably about as religious as I am, meaning zero, but his managers made a point of making sure that every Sunday morning he was in the Baptist church singing hymns.”
  • “Three quarters of the American population literally believe in religious miracles. The numbers who believe in devil, in resurrection, in God doing this and that - it's astonishing. These numbers aren't duplicated anywhere else in the industrial world. You'd have to maybe go to mosques in Iran or do a poll among old ladies in Sicily to get numbers like this. Yet this is the American population.”
  • “You can find things in the traditional religions which are very benign and decent and wonderful and so on, but I mean, the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon. The God of the Bible - not only did He order His chosen people to carry out literal genocide - I mean, wipe out every Amalekite to the last man, woman, child, and, you know, donkey and so on, because hundreds of years ago they got in your way when you were trying to cross the desert - not only did He do things like that, but, after all, the God of the Bible was ready to destroy every living creature on earth because some humans irritated Him. That's the story of Noah. I mean, that's beyond genocide - you don't know how to describe this creature. Somebody offended Him, and He was going to destroy every living being on earth? And then He was talked into allowing two of each species to stay alive - that's supposed to be gentle and wonderful.”
  • “Take, say, the core of the established religions today: the Bible. It is basically polytheistic, with the warrior God demanding of his chosen people that they not worship the other Gods and destroy those who do — in an extremely brutal way, in fact. It would be hard to find a more genocidal text in the literary canon, or a more violent and destructive character than the God who was to be worshipped. So that’s one definition.”
  • “In the Prophets, one finds (sometimes) a different conception, much more humane. That’s why the Prophets (the “dissident intellectuals” of their day) were persecuted, imprisoned, driven into the desert, etc. — other reasons included their geopolitical analysis, unwelcome to power. The intellectuals who were honored and privileged were those who centuries later were called “false prophets.” More or less a cultural universal. There were different conceptions of divinity associated with these tendencies, and Greek and Zoroastrian influences are probable causes for later monotheistic tendencies (how one evaluates these are a different matter).”
  • “Looking beyond, we find other conceptions, of many kinds. But I have nothing to propose. People who find such conceptions important for themselves have every right to frame them as they like. Personally, I don’t. That’s why you haven’t found my “thoughts on this [for you] criticaI question.” I have none, because I see no need for them (apart from the — often extremely interesting and revealing — inquiry into human culture an history).”
  • “As for “First Principles,” basing them on divinities is, I think, a very bad idea. That leaves anyone free to pick the “first principles” they choose on other grounds, and to disguise the choices as “what God commands.” If its the warrior God of the Bible, the First Principles are horrendous (in the basic texts) and often uplifting — in Amos, for example; but recall that he made it clear that he was no intellectual (no “prophet,” as the obscure Hebrew word is translated), but an ordinary farmer.”
  • “If you like Maslow’s choices, fine, then say so. But nothing is gained by investing them with divinity, and a great deal is lost: specifically, the opportunity to question, elaborate, modify, or reject them. But these are basic elements of decent human life and thought, I believe. If you want to use the word “God” to refer to “what you are and what you want” — well, that’s a terminological decision, not a substantive one. And a bad terminological decision, I think, for the reasons just mentioned.”
  • “Is “reality an accident”? Could the laws of nature have been other than what they are? Maybe one can make some sense of such questions, but bringing divinity into the story helps not at all. It only adds confusion and deflects serious thought and inquiry.
  • Is it “possible that the nature of reality could be a living urge towards freedom”? As Bakunin put it, is an “instinct for freedom” part of human nature, maybe part of organic nature? Could be. I hope so. But we don’t know. But again, bringing divinity in just adds confusion and bars serious inquiry and action, in my opinion.”
  • “Others feel differently. They feel they need to ground their beliefs and hopes in something they call “God.” OK. I don’t legislate for others, but if they want my advice (no reason why they should), it’s more or less as above.”
  • “On the linguistic work, it bears on these issues only tangentially, by seeking to explore some aspects of our essential and distinctive human nature. An exciting enterprise, I think, but these questions are barely touched.”

Noam Chomsky Quotes on Language

Noam Chomsky Quotes - Photo by East Stroudsburg University from Flickr

This gets more interesting, we must say! As a person who admire language, you can totally agree that language is not only about words, but more about a culture, a tradition, and a unification of a community.

Here are more Noam Chomsky quotes for you to get inspired:

  • “Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.”
  • “If you go back a century in Europe, all over the place people were speaking different languages. There were dozens of languages in France and Italy, and they’re all called French [and Italian], but they were not mutually comprehensible. They were different languages. And they have mostly disappeared in the last century or so. Some are being preserved, like Welsh, some are being revived, like Basque or Catelan to some extent. There are plenty of people in Europe who can’t talk to their grandmother because they talk a different language.”
  • “A language is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is. It’s all embodied in a language.”
  • “The most striking aspect of linguistic competence is what we may call the 'creativity of language,' that is, the speaker's ability to produce new sentences, sentences that are immediately UNDERSTOOD by other speakers although they bear no physical resemblance to sentences which are 'familiar.”
  • “Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.”
  • “The fact is that if you have not developed language, you simply don't have access to most of human experience, and if you don't have access to experience, then you're not going to be able to think properly.”
  • “There is no reason to believe ... that the "essential purpose" of language is "communication". Language can be used to transmit information, but it also serves many other purposes: to establish relations among people, to express or clarify thought, for play, for creative mental activity, to gain understanding, and so on. In my opinion, there is no reason to accord privileged status to one or the other of these modes.”
  • “It's as if we're higher apes who had a language faculty inserted.”
  • “There are very deep and restrictive principles that determine the nature of human language and are rooted in the specific character of the human mind.”
  • “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world.”
  • “It's perfectly obvious that there is some genetic factor that distinguishes humans from other animals and that it is language-specific. The theory of that genetic component, whatever it turns out to be, is what is called universal grammar.”
  • “In fact, by universal grammar I mean just that system of principles and structures that are the prerequisites for acquisition of language, and to which every language necessarily conforms.”
  • “The truth of the matter is that about 99 percent of teaching is making the students feel interested in the material. Then the other 1 percent has to do with your methods. And that's not just true of languages. It's true of every subject.”
  • “Plainly, children learn their language. I don't speak Swahili. And it cannot be that my language is 'an innate property of our brain.' Otherwise I would have been genetically programmed to speak (some variety of) English.”
  • “I did not say that language as a completed system emerged in an individual in an instant. But I cannot think of a coherent alternative to the idea that mutations take place in individuals, not communities, so that whatever rewiring of the brain yielded the apparently unique properties of language, specifically recursive generation of hierarchically structured expressions, would therefore have taken place in an individual, and only later been used among individuals who had inherited this capacity.”
  • “In studying language, we can discover many basic properties of this cognitive structure, its organization, and also the genetic predispositions that provide the foundation for its development. So, in this respect, linguistics, first of all, tries to characterize a major feature of human cognitive organization. And second, I think it may provide a suggestive model for the study of other cognitive systems. And the collection of these systems is one aspect of human nature.”
  • That was us on Noam Chomsky quotes. They are absolutely amazing and inspiring to read. We hope you had fun reading, and can walk away with what you wish for.


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