The surprising thing about Noam Chomsky in person was what he was not. Even though I was not intimately familiar with either his linguistics or his political writing, I had imagined him as stern and austere, too absorbed in thought to bother with either social grace or chitchat.

Rather, he’s like your favorite uncle-albeit the one who has perfect recall and is amazingly smart and has the ability to explain big ideas in everyday language. No jargon. No evasiveness.

A professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chomsky is the most influential and best-known American linguist. Even more familiar to many is his political analysis, including books such as Rogue States, Media Control, and Secrets, Lies and Democracy.

Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy as part of its annual Potter lecture, Chomsky addressed a mesmerized crowd of 2,500 in Beasley on a Friday afternoon in April with a talk he called “Imminent Crises: Responsibilities and Opportunities.”


The Potter Series video is no longer available but here is an article based on his thematic talk “Imminent Crises: Threats and Opportunities.”  (Monthly Review Press [PDF])