The “Chomsky problem”, or: Anti-naturalism is not the answer to naive nativism

A colleague has drawn my attention to a critique of Chomsky’s by English Lit professor David Hawkes in the Times Literary Supplement, where he claims a major incompatibility between Chomsky’s radical political positions and his scientific assumptions which could “easily be characterized as reactionary”. The critique is written from a strongly anti-empiricist perspective and salted with misunderstandings of Chomsky’s actual linguistic claims, and I would probably ignore it if it didn’t highlight some common misconceptions, and if there weren’t a few valid points hidden in the flood of broad front attacks against empirical science as a “capitalist discource”, but will instead use it as a starting point to present some of my own current positions on naive nativism, ideology in science, abuses of the concept of “human nature”, ontologic individualism, and how it is important for left-wingers to critique them from a scientific perspective, highlighting poorly motivated assumptions and logical leaps to show that the scientific status of the conclusions is dubitable.

If one resorts to rejecting the scientific method, and reality, in order to uphold one’s worldview, as Hawkes does, one implicitly acknowledges that reality isn’t on our side – a declaration of defeat. We don’t have to do that, reality’s on our side (and even if it weren’t, we’d still only be lying to ourselves by doin so).

The alleged contradition.
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