ENCOUNTER AT ROYAUMONT: THE DEBATE BETWEEN JEAN PIAGET AND NOAM CHOMSKY
IN OCTOBER 1975 a confrontation of considerable importance to the temper of future intellectual discourse took place at a chateau in the Parisian suburb of Royaumont. The principal participants in this debate were lean Piaget, the renowned Swiss psychologist and epistemologist, and Noam Chomsky, the noted American linguist and political activist. Their subject was no less than the nature of the human mind itself.
For a number of years, Piaget had hoped that such a meeting could be arranged. Sensitive to currents in contemporary social science, he had known about the threat to his position represented by the work of Chomsky and his collaborators. Chomsky had also been reading Piaget's works and had commented upon them critically. While less eager than Piaget for a personal encounter, he accepted the invitation proffered by the late Nobel laureate Jacques Monod, president of the Center for the Study of Man, to join together in a symposium dubbed (and later published as) "On Language and Learning."