Noam Chomsky & Michel Foucault Debate Human Nature & Power (1971)

Once again, we’re head­ing back to 1971. Yes­ter­day we had Dick Cavet­t’s 1971 inter­view with George Har­ri­son. Today, it’s the clash of two intel­lec­tu­al titans, Noam Chom­sky and Michel Fou­cault. In ’71, at the height of the Viet­nam War, the Amer­i­can lin­guist and French historian/social the­o­rist appeared on Dutch TV to debate a fun­da­men­tal ques­tion: Is there such a thing as innate human nature? Or are we shaped by expe­ri­ences and the pow­er of cul­tur­al and social insti­tu­tions around us?

40 years lat­er, you can find the clas­sic debate on YouTube. If you need sub­ti­tles, make sure you turn on the cap­tions func­tion at the bot­tom of the video.

full tran­script of the debate can be read online, or you can pur­chase a copy in book for­mat. Final­ly, a recent BBC pro­gram revis­its  and ana­lyzes the Chom­sky-Fou­cault encounter. H/T Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online Cours­es in Phi­los­o­phy

Jacques Lacan Speaks; Zizek Pro­vides Free Cliffs Notes

Down­load Free Cours­es from Famous Philoso­phers: From Bertrand Rus­sell to Michel Fou­cault

Noam Chom­sky vs. William F. Buck­ley, 1969

Ali G and Noam Chom­sky Talk Lin­guis­tics

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Comments (8)
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  • parrhesiastes says:

    Did the Dutch TV only air 12:53 min­utes of the whole debate? Cause the same frag­ment (in two parts) of debate is scat­tered all over the web. It would be great to see (or at least hear) the whole debate.

  • Bree says:

    “A fed­er­at­ed, decen­tralised sys­tem of free asso­ci­a­tion incor­po­rat­ing eco­nom­ic as well as social insti­tu­tions, would be what I referred to as Anar­cho-Syn­di­cal­ism and it seems to me that it is the appro­pri­ate form of social organ­i­sa­tion for an advanced tech­no­log­i­cal soci­ety in which human beings do not have to forced into a posi­tion of tools – of cogs in a machine — in which the cre­ative urge, which I think is intrin­sic to human nature, will in fact be able to realise itself in what­ev­er ways it will…” <3 ah, man after my own heart

  • Robert Dutu says:

    BBC video is removed

    “Chom­sky Vs Mi…” This video is no longer avail­able because the YouTube account asso­ci­at­ed with this video has been ter­mi­nat­ed due to mul­ti­ple third-par­ty noti­fi­ca­tions of copy­right infringe­ment from claimants includ­ing: [HOME BOX OFFICE, INC.], [HOME BOX OFFICE, INC.], [HOME BOX OFFICE, INC.]

  • The Marching Morons says:

    where is the full debate video???????

  • Alarion says:

    Actu­al­ly i watch the 12 min­utes of debate along­side with the Chom­sky vs Fou­cault pdf file hang out every­where in the web, and find out a lot of coin­ci­dences. There­fore, for peo­ple who wan­na take a look at the debate regard­less the video just down­load the pdf file.

  • OMC says:

    “Did the Dutch TV only air 12:53 min­utes of the whole debate?”

    No, this was actu­al­ly a live broad­cast (by VPRO). But I know what you mean, you always find the same frag­ment on the web. Not only that but the same frag­ment is always shown on tele­vi­sion when request­ed in cer­tain pro­grams. Which rais­es the sus­pi­cion that the whole debate is either lost or stored away (and they use this frag­ment as ref­er­ence.)

  • parrhesiastes says:

    @OMC: I noticed that in “Man­u­fac­tur­ing Con­sent” doc­u­men­tary, a dif­fer­ent clip from the same debate was shown so there must be a full ver­sion some­where.

  • Cris says:

    I found the whole debate here:

    (well, I think it is com­plete. Could some­one with the pdf check it out?

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