David Wineberg – The Man With Two Brains

Link to David Wineberg’s review of Chris Knight‘s book Decoding Chomsky: Science and Revolutionary Politics (2016):

“The Man With Two Brains”

Bonus links: “Decoding Chomsky. Science and Revolutionary Politics. Chris Knight. A Review.” (this review usefully relies on Bourdieu), and “Understanding the Labyrinth: Noam Chomsky’s Science and Politics” (“Chomsky’s stance undercuts the responsibility of scientists to speak out as public intellectuals against dishonest invocation of pretended science [o]n behalf of commercial and political interests.”), and Systemic Functional Linguistics, and Denial AKA disavowal (“In Verleugnung, the defense consists in denying something that affects the individual and is a way of affirming what he or she is apparently denying.”) and “Chomsky, Wolfe and Me” and “Noam Chomsky Responds to Chris Knight’s Book, Decoding Chomsky: Science and Revolutionary Politics” and “When Chomsky Worked on Weapons Systems for the Pentagon”  (“In Chomsky’s writings, individualism and genetic determinism are both taken to astonishing extremes.”)


To the extent that Knight (or others) are insisting that Chomsky (or others) assume the position of a Hegelian “beautiful soul” I disagree.  Other other hand, from sort of a Bourdieu (or Bachelard) sort of sociological perspective, it is crucial to understand the institutional field in which a “major” academic like Chomsky operates.  I think Knight is more concerned with how Chomsky is or isn’t a “useful idiot” for military interests like Robert Oppenheimer with the Manhattan Project.

NOVA – The Great Math Mystery

NOVA: The Great Math Mystery (April 2015)


Director: Dan McCabe and Richard Reisz

“The Great Math Mystery,” an episode of the long-running PBS science show Nova, is in essence an analysis of mathematics and analytic philosophy.  In the program, about 99% of the show consists of people from the analytic philosophical school talking about math, plus one token representative from the Continental Philosophy school (Stephen Wolfram) and a few comments by analytic philosophy people about the Continental Philosophy view.  What this show desperately needed was a dose of the “fairness doctrine” by giving something closer to 50% of the airtime to the Continental view.  Ideally, Alain Badiou would have been featured, because he is perhaps the most well-known living philosopher to argue about the nature of mathematics from outside the caste of “working mathematicians”. Count this episode among the many that PBS airs that is a polemic disguised as an even-handed treatment.