Problems of Knowledge and Freedom

The first work to connect Noam Chomsky’s linguistic and political thought, offering important insight into the philosophical foundations of his worldview

“A subtle and scrupulous look at some of the most interesting work done in our time on language and mind.” —George Steiner, The New York Times Book Review

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 Southeast Asia and the Cold War ideology that supported it, of the centralization of U.S. 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 policy.


“A subtle and scrupulous look at some of the most interesting work done in our time on language and mind.”
—George Steiner, The New York Times Book Review
“The first time Chomsky has joined his linguistic and political writings under one cover.”

Books by Noam Chomsky

American Power and the New Mandarins
Historical and Political Essays

Noam Chomsky

The Cold War and the University
Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years

Noam Chomsky, Ira Katznelson, R.C. Lewontin, David Montgomery, Laura Nader, Richard Ohmann, Ray Siever, Immanuel Wallerstein, Howard Zinn

The Chomsky-Foucault Debate
On Human Nature

Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault

Towards a New Cold War
U.S. Foreign Policy from Vietnam to Reagan

Noam Chomsky

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