The concept of limit

In the introduction to “Anarchism” by D. Guerin, Chomsky stresses the existence guerin_anarchyof a cultural tradition going back to Rousseau (“Discourse on Inequality, 1754), Von Humboldt, “The Limits of State Action” and chiefly Immanuel Kant on the French Revolution remarking that freedom is the precondition for freedom. That stands in marked contrast to Hegel (and before that Machiavelli and the “principato nuovo”) where servitude is the precondition for freedom.
Another example of the same dichotomy is the following (in reversed order):
the Freudian lineage of “Civilization and its Discontents” says that repression of instincts is what drives society forwards, and culture, from Hammurabi Codex onward, is but a way to constrain the instincts. On the contrary, in the preface to Wilhelm Reich, “The Imposition of Sexual Morality”, the author says that the line consisting of Morgans-Engels-Malinowski and himself asserts that society is essentially repression which must be overcome. What is the position of Chomsky on that, in particular in his debate with Foucault? See


Here a short remark of Freud is apt again: he says (in “Civilization and its Discontents”) that one of the major problems of our time is that work is mostly perceived as toil and not as self-fulfillment. That implies that the psychic contents of most people are going in a direction which is not that of their potential.

Chomsky again states that very clearly when he writes the following very perceptive words. No answer unfortunately is known. The question may well be too deep for our feeble Reason. Here is wonderful Noam, again:

“I would like to assume on the basis of fact and hope on the basis of confidence in the human species that there are innate structures of mind. If there are not, if humans are just plastic and random organisms, then they are fit subjects for shaping behavior. If humans only become as they are by random changes, then why not control that randomness by the state authority or the behaviorist technologist or anything else? Naturally I hope that it will turn out that there are intrinsic structures determining human need and fulfillment of human need”.

Categories: Chomsky, Episteme, Society

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