"THE FATHER OF MODERN LINGUISTICS": NOAM CHOMSKY'S RARE FIRST BOOK, ASPECTS OF THE THEORY OF SYNTAX, 1965 FIRST EDITION
CHOMSKY, Noam. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The M.I.T. Press, (1965). Octavo, original blue cloth, original dust jacket. $4200.
First edition of Chomsky's elusive first book, "the first concerted approach to investigating the human mind through a systematic study of how people produce and understand sentences… equated with Darwin's theory of evolution and Freud's theory of the unconscious in terms of its importance in the history of ideas"—a very nice copy in the original dust jacket.
Noam Chomsky is "the father of modern linguistics and remains the field's most influential practitioner… Mr. Chomsky's introduction of his theory of language in 1957 [in his monograph "Syntactic Structures," which he developed into the present book, his first], often called the Chomsky revolution, has been equated with Darwin's theory of evolution and Freud's theory of the unconscious in terms of its importance in the history of ideas: it was the first concerted approach to investigating the human mind through a systematic study of how people produce and understand sentences… Mr. Chomsky was by nature a questioner—and, where he deemed necessary, an exploder—of received truths. Over the years, this trait became evident in his political work, including his early opposition to the Vietnam War, his outspoken condemnation of United States policy in Central America, East Timor and elsewhere, and his castigation of the mainstream news media for what he describes as complicity with governmental and business interests… Language, Mr. Chomsky came to believe, was rooted not in behavior but in biology, in an inborn set of principles that speakers unconsciously draw on whenever they produce or understand sentences. The goal of linguistics, he argued, should be to reproduce these principles. Since one couldn't go mucking around in people's brains, the linguist would attempt instead to mirror the workings of these inborn principles with a set of abstract, quasi-mathematical rules intended to generate the range of possible sentences in a given language—in other words, a generative grammar" (New York Times, Dec. 5, 1998). Owner signature.
Book fine, dust jacket with a few short closed tears and tiny chip to rear upper corner, near-fine. A lovely copy of this scarce title.