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Posted 03 April 2013

Noam Chomsky awarded UCD Ulysses Medal

One of the world’s leading intellectuals and political activists, Professor Noam Chomsky has been awarded the UCD Ulysses Medal, the highest honour that University College Dublin can bestow.

The award was inaugurated in 2005, as part of the university’s sesquicentennial celebrations, to highlight the ‘creative brilliance’ of UCD alumnus James Joyce. It is awarded to individuals whose work has made an outstanding global contribution.

Professor Chomsky was presented with the UCD Ulysses Medal by the President of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady, following a public lecture hosted by the UCD Philosophy Society and the UCD School of Philosophy at University College Dublin on Tuesday 02 April 2013.

The queue for the lecture started two hours before the event, and standing room only remained in the hall one hour before the lecture began at 7:00pm.

Over 1,100 people attended the lecture entitled: Can civilisation survive really existing capitalism?

After the lecture Professor Chomsky took part in a Q&A session with the audience.

84-year-old, Noam Chomsky a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is better known publicly for his active left-wing criticism of US foreign policy.

In 1965 he organized a citizen’s committee to publicise tax refusal in protest to the war in Vietnam and some four years later he published his first book on politics American Power and the New Mandarins. By the 1980's he had become both the most distinguished figure of American linguistics and one of the most influential left-wing critics of American foreign policy.

Chomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist, a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism, and he is often considered to be a key intellectual figure within the left wing of American politics.

"Judged in terms of the power, range, novelty and influence of his thought, Noam Chomsky is arguably the most important intellectual alive today" - Paul Robinson, New York Times Book Review.

His political writings include American Power and the New Mandarins (1969), Peace in the Middle East? (1974), Some Concepts and Consequences of the Theory of Government and Binding (1982), Manufacturing Consent (with E. S. Herman, 1988), Profit over People (1998), and Rogue States (2000). His controversial bestseller 9-11 (2002) is an analysis of the World Trade Center attack which, while denouncing the atrocity of the event, traces its origins to the actions and power of the United States, which Chomsky refers to as “a leading terrorist state.”


Noam Chomsky - 'Language Use and Design: conflicts and their significance' - Hosted by the UCD School of Philosophy at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.


In the field of linguistics, Chomsky, who has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 1955, is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, often considered the most significant contribution to the field of theoretical linguistics of the 20th century.

He first set out his abstract analysis of language in his doctoral dissertation (1955) and Syntactic Structures (1957). He also helped spark the cognitive revolution in psychology through his review of B. F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior, which challenged the behaviorist approach to the study of mind and language dominant in the 1950s. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has also affected the philosophy of language and mind. He is also credited with the establishment of the ‘Chomsky hierarchy,’ a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power.

Daniel Yergin, a New York Times Magazine contributor maintains that “where others heard only a Babel of fragments, he found a linguistic order. His work has been compared to the unraveling of the genetic code of the DNA molecule."

He further declares that Chomsky's discoveries in linguistics have had an impact "on everything from the way children are taught foreign languages to what it means when we say that we are human."

(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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