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Problems of Knowledge and Freedom: The…
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Problems of Knowledge and Freedom: The Russell Lectures (1972)

by Noam Chomsky

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"Those whose lives are fruitful to themselves, to their friends, or to the world are inspired by hope and sustained by joy: they see in imagination the things that might be and the way in which they are to be brought into existence. In their private relations they are not pre-occupied with anxiety lest they should lose such affection and respect as they receive: they are engaged in giving affection and respect freely, and the reward comes of itself without their seeking. In their work they are not haunted by jealousy of competitors, but concerned with the actual matter that has to be done. In politics, they do not spend time and passion defending unjust privileges of their class or nation, but they aim at making the world as a whole happier, less cruel, less full of conflict between rival greeds, and more full of human beings whose growth has not been dwarfed and stunted by oppression." (Russell, Proposed Roads to Freedom, 186-187).

“The world that we must seek is a world in which the creative spirit is alive, in which life is an adventure full of joy and hope, based rather upon the impulse to construct than upon the desire to retain what we possess or to seize what is possessed by others. It must be a world in which affection has free play, in which love is purged of the instinct for domination, in which cruelty and envy have been dispelled by happiness and the unfettered development of all the instincts that build up life and fill it with mental delights. Such a world is possible; it waits only for men to wish to create it. Meantime, the world in which we exist has other aims. But it will pass away, burned up in the fire of its own hot passions; and from its ashes will spring a new and younger world, full of fresh hope, with the light of morning in its eyes.” (Russell, Proposed Roads to Freedom, 212). ( )
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394718151, Paperback)

From interpreting the world to changing it, a synthesis of Chomsky's early work on philosophy, linguistics, and politics.

Originally delivered in 1971 as the first Cambridge lectures in memory of Bertrand Russell, Problems of Knowledge and Freedom is a masterful and cogent synthesis of Noam Chomsky's moral philosophy, linguistic analysis, and emergent political critique of America's war in Vietnam.

In the first half of this wide-ranging work, Chomsky takes up Russell's lifelong search for the empirical principles of human understanding, in a philosophical overview referencing Hume, Wittgenstein, von Humboldt, and others. In the following half, aptly titled "On Changing the World," Chomsky applies these concepts to the issues that would remain the focus of his increasingly political work of the period—his criticisms of the war in Indochina and the Cold War ideology that supported it, of the centralization of US decision-making in the Pentagon and the growing influence of multinational corporations in those circles, and of the politicization of American universities in the post- World War II years, as well as his analyses of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Nixon's foreign policies.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:51 -0400)

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