Find inspiration in these Noam Chomsky quotes from the Father of Linguistics.
Noam Chomsky is famously known for changing the way that people think about and study linguistics. He was taught as a child how to be a free thinker and throughout life challenged ideas instead of just accepting what was already taught and believed.
Chomsky was a philosopher, historian, scientist and eventually became a political and social activist. He turned his attention to many different areas but he is most known for being a founder of cognitive science.
The Noam Chomsky quotes below show and portray many of his beliefs and ideas. Enjoy!
Don’t forget to also check out these common sense quotes and words of wisdom.
Wise Noam Chomsky quotes
1. “We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.” – Noam Chomsky
2. “If you want to achieve something, you build the basis for it.” – Noam Chomsky
3. “You never need an argument against the use of violence, you need an argument for it.” – Noam Chomsky
4. “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.” – Noam Chomsky
5. “Everyone knows that when you look at a television ad, you do not expect to get information. You expect to see delusion and imagery.” – Noam Chomsky
6. “Debt is a social and ideological construct, not a simple economic fact.” – Noam Chomsky
7. “Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.” – Noam Chomsky
8. “As a research tool, the internet is invaluable.” – Noam Chomsky
9. “There’s a tremendous gap between public opinion and public policy.” – Noam Chomsky
10. “Public opinion can be influential, the media can be influential.” – Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky quotes about politics
11. “If voting could actually change anything, it would be illegal.” – Noam Chomsky
12. “The media want to maintain their intimate relation to state power. They want to get leaks, they want to get invited to the press conferences. They want to rub shoulders with the Secretary of State, all that kind of business. To do that, you’ve got to play the game, and playing the game means telling their lies, serving as their disinformation apparatus.” – Noam Chomsky
13. “The point of public relations slogans like “Support Our Troops” is that they don’t mean anything … that’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody is going to be against and I suppose everybody will be for, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything. But its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something, do you support our policy? And that’s the one you’re not allowed to talk about.” – Noam Chomsky
14. “The best defense against democracy is to distract people.” – Noam Chomsky
15. “Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future.” – Noam Chomsky
16. “In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies. As is most of the population.” – Noam Chomsky
17. “You can’t have meaningful political democracy without functioning economic democracy.” – Noam Chomsky
18. “Governments will use whatever technology is available to combat their primary enemy – their own population.” – Noam Chomsky
19. “Democracy was regarded as entering into a crisis in the 1960s. The crisis was that large segments of the population were becoming organized and active and trying to participate in the political arena.” – Noam Chomsky
20. “Ever since I’ve had any political awareness, I’ve felt either alone or part of a tiny minority.” – Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky quotes about language
21. “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.” – Noam Chomsky
22. “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.” – Noam Chomsky
23. “The fact is that if you have not developed language, you simply don’t have access to most of the human experience, and if you don’t have access to experience, then you’re not going to be able to think properly.” – Noam Chomsky
24. “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.” – Noam Chomsky
25. “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.” – Noam Chomsky
26. “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analog in the animal world.” – Noam Chomsky
27. “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.” – Noam Chomsky
28. “Language is a weapon of politicians, but language is a weapon in much of human affairs.” – Noam Chomsky
29. “There is undoubtedly much to learn about the social uses of language, for communication or for other purposes.” – Noam Chomsky
30. “There’s a tremendous amount of language loss. Most of the attention is given to indigenous languages, which makes sense, but some of the most dramatic language loss is in Europe.” – Noam Chomsky
Thought-provoking Noam Chomsky quotes
31. “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.” – Noam Chomsky
32. “I like the cold weather. It means you get work done.” – Noam Chomsky
33. “Tough love is just the right phrase: love for the rich and privileged, tough for everyone else.” – Noam Chomsky
34. “Like most technology, the internet has mixed effects. It’s a neutral instrument.” – Noam Chomsky
35. “Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” – Noam Chomsky
36. “Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” – Noam Chomsky
37. “It’s dangerous when people are willing to give up their privacy.” – Noam Chomsky
38. “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” – Noam Chomsky
39. “The worst drug of all by far is tobacco; the death toll from tobacco is just overwhelming.” – Noam Chomsky
40. “We’re human beings; we’re not robots. And face-to-face contact is something totally different than typing a text message and then forgetting about it.” – Noam Chomsky
More Noam Chomsky quotes
41. “The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.” – Noam Chomsky
42. “It is reported that about 30% of the world’s population is unemployed. That’s worse than the Great Depression, but it’s now an international phenomenon.” – Noam Chomsky
43. “The more privilege you have, the more opportunity you have. The more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have.” – Noam Chomsky
44. “The reason academic disputes are so vicious is that so little is at stake.” – Noam Chomsky
45. “You keep plugging away–that’s the way social change takes place. That’s the way every social change in history has taken place: by a lot of people, who nobody ever heard of, doing work.” – Noam Chomsky
46. “There’s plenty to criticize about the mass media, but they are the source of regular information about a wide range of topics. You can’t duplicate that on blogs.” – Noam Chomsky
47. “The 1950s and 1960s had been a period of enormous growth, the highest in American history, maybe in economic history.” – Noam Chomsky
48. “Sea level rise and destruction of water resources as glaciers melt alone may have horrendous human consequences.” – Noam Chomsky
49. “Governments are supposed to lie to their citizens.” – Noam Chomsky
50. “How people themselves perceive what they are doing is not a question that interests me.” – Noam Chomsky
What did you learn from these Noam Chomsky quotes?
Whether you agree or disagree with some of Noam Chomsky’s ideas and beliefs, there is something to be learned from him.
Because he wasn’t willing to just accept things for how they already were, Chomsky was able to look at many areas with a new perspective, putting his own touch on them.
Use his work and example as inspiration to see what areas in your own life you could look at from a new perspective.
You can learn from examples and works of the past and see how you can apply them to yourself. The main example that Noam Chomsky shows is to not be afraid to think for yourself.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these Noam Chomsky quotes and sayings? Let us know in the comment section below.
December 1, 2020 7:00 AM EST