Show 219: Noam Chomsky – “Chomsky on Humanism”

Listen to more Chomsky here! 

Noam Chomsky has been a leading intellectual of the Left for more than 35 years, and has written about, and spoke to, a variety of issues including capitalist economics, the nation-state – focusing on an extensive critique of the powers that be and the policies of the United States – education, socialism, war and peace and anarchism. He began his career in the study of language and is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th Century. He is currently the Institute Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Recently, Professor Chomsky, author of over 30 books of science and of politics, has been the subject of an interview (along with Gilbert Achcar) by New Jersey based political scientist Stephen Shalom in the book titled, “Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy.” In this book, he discuses, among other things, the resurgence of religious fundamentalism in both the Middle East and within this country, and offers some perspective on what might be the cause(s) of the trend.

Also, in a recent interview in the Humanist, the flagship magazine of the American Humanist Association, Professor Chomsky continues his analysis of religious fundamentalism as well as talks about other issues at the core of the humanist worldview.

Equal Time for Freethought spoke to Professor Chomsky a few weeks ago on the substance of humanist thought from naturalism and religious critique to the political and economic structures which must be in place in order for us to affect the social changes necessary toward creating a humanistic future world society.

Part one of our discussion will focus on science and religion and part two on political and economic considerations. In the end, we hope our listeners will continue to be inspired and thoughtfully challenged toward implementing social change as this interview not only continues my recent series on evolution and human nature, and current series on economics, but on the larger humanist picture Equal Time for Freethought tries to paint each week.

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2 Responses to Show 219: Noam Chomsky – “Chomsky on Humanism”

  1. David J. Fischer says:

    Thank you! It would be helpful to me as an English/Philosophy teacher to get Prof. Chomsky’s comments on the side of religion that passes mostly unnoticed.

    What I mean is that ‘religion’ as it is most often used is typically discussed in terms of ethics, and to a lesser extent metaphysics.

    The etymology of the following words is very curious: Person; Religion; Belief; and Faith. Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell mentioned the ironies involved in looking at these words in depth.

    “Person” come from ‘Mask’; it is a fiction.

    “Relgion” is not very clear, but ‘tying back’ is one that Campbell settled on. (Repeating over and over is another)

    “Belief” involves “accept/approve” “Love/Hold Dear” “Hope/Wish For”.

    Faith involves “trust” “fidelity”.

    The problem is in usage. It is not clear in common discourse what these terms have come to mean to either speaker or listener.

    A ‘real’ religious person, it seems, would be one who in trust, practices and from time to time has a profound, ineffible, subjective experience. Instead, “religion” has come to, nearly always, reference moralistic preaching and the cunning hypocrites it breeds.

    Have language and popular understanding lost all regard for the “religious experience” (something Watts often called ‘ecological awareness’)? I suppose those who criticize “organized religion” may be pointing this out.

    In any case, Prof. Chomsky embodies the value of the disinteresed pursuit of truth. To that extent he is a hero to me. It takes a lot to stay awake in the present day onslaught of social hypnosis; his voice is reassuring.

    David J. Fischer

    P.S. Wittgenstein seems to acknowledge the ‘mystical’ or ‘ineffible’ has Prof. Chomsky ever commented on this?

  2. El Capo says:

    One thought,

    In regards to organized religion, proud men manipulating the true world of God for their own agenda. This is data manipulation resulting in a strong political power monopoly.
    Religions are all mixed up now, all religions blend into each other. They now all fall under the one big catholic umbrella. If the word of God was followed as it was written (obviously humans would then now humbleness) in the Bible it would only help huge populations live together in harmony without having to live in fear of their own governments. This would be a more socialist society following the Ten Commandments as Law. Perhaps more like a socialist dictatorship, as the interest of the State would be moral and for the people. Our taxes would go to our own infrastructure, health care, welfare, fair employment laws not to mention the knock on effect such society could have on neighboring countries. Only our own selfish egos would stops us from following the The Ten Commandments.
    Yet we follow human laws that only harm us, separate us as people and in the long term the political system we have will end up killing us. Politics, we like to complicate things because we think so much of ourselves.

    Of course this thought is no more than a thought.

    Media has me chasing selfish, egotistical, urges I must calm by consuming shallow minded things I don’t need.

    Organized religions have become corporations laughing as consumers consume their products. Shallow, cheap religion giving a bad name to the truth. Shallow consumers are filled with confusion, misunderstandings, controversy, lies and shallow religion. This is a direct result of our selfish egos trying to fill a whole in our hearts only God in his true form can complete. Result of being incomplete, we consume anything and everything trying to fill that hole at least momentarily.

    If there is no God, then we are at the mercy of heartless men with no morals and as beautiful as the world is there is no point in living. Most of the world’s population are really going to suffer hunger and die off, not that it hasn’t been happening for the last 100 years. If someone next to me is dying of hunger day by day, what does it say about me if I seat there and watch. Bread $5, this person doesn’t have $. So now this person’s life has a value. This society would not hand the hungry dying man food for free. This is how selfishly shallow we have become without God and capitalism is not going to help if there is no profits…

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