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Twin Pages

Minsky vs Chomsky

05 Jul 2021 10:15 - 01 Jan 2022 07:48

    • Marvin Minsky had a strong disdain for Noam Chomsky's linguistics. I don't know if there were personal or political elements involved; I understood it as a very deep intellectual disagreement, one that involved a radical difference in the goals and methods appropriate to understanding the mind.
    • Both were mathematicians who developed theories about fundamental psychological processes. But Chomsky focused on syntax, to a degree where concern for semantics was almost driven entirely from linguistics for awhile. This was, for Minsky, to not even have the problem statement right. To be distracted by abstract mathematics from the more interesting and meaty questions of how meaning and mechanism are related. What language does, not merely how it is structured.
      • “For maybe 30 or 40 years, support for semantics and how language actually works virtually vanished from the planet earth. Most linguistics departments changed their linguistics departments to grammar departments and theories of formal syntax. It is a phenomenon I hope to never see again, where an important field is replaced by a relatively unimportant one.”