(Brenner, Sydney) Chomsky, Noam

Language and Mind

  • First edition, first printing. From the library of Nobel Prize-winning biologist Sydney Brenner, with his ownership signature on the half title in red pencil. Language and Mind has been expanded and republished a number of times since its publication, but the first edition is uncommon, particularly in such nice condition.

    Sydney Brenner (1927 - ) has been a leader in the field of genetics almost from the moment he received his doctorate at Oxford in 1954. He joined Francis Crick’s laboratory in 1956, and they did groundbreaking research on how DNA is decoded by cells. Brenner proposed that the nucleotides which comprise DNA (adenine, guanine, thiamine and cytosine) are read by the cell in sets of three called codons, with each codon representing an amino acid (for example, three adenines in a row is the codon for the amino acid lysine). A gene is simply a string of codons that directs the production of a protein molecule from individual amino acids. He also correctly predicted the existence of messenger RNA, the molecule that carries the genetic code from the nucleus to the ribosomes, where the translation process occurs.

    Following this work, it was Brenner’s efforts to establish a new laboratory organism for the study of genetics that led to his Nobel Prize. “Beginning in 1965, he began to lay the groundwork to make C. elegans, a small, transparent nematode, into a major model organism for genetics, neurobiology and developmental biology research. As a direct result of his original vision, this tiny worm became the first animal for which the complete cell lineage and entire neuronal wiring were known. Today, more than 1,000 investigators are studying C. elegans, and Brenner’s work was further honored when a closely related nematode was named Caenorhabditis brenneri” (Salk Institute biography).

    The present volume comprises three essays originally presented as the Beckman lectures at the University of California in January 1967. “The first is an attempt to evaluate past contributions to the study of mind that have been based on research and speculation regarding the nature of language. The second is devoted to contemporary developments in linguistics that have a bearing on the study of mind. The third is a highly speculative discussion of directions that the study of language and mind might take in coming years” (preface).

  • New York: Harcourt, Brace & World Inc., 1968.

    88 page booklet. Original white wrappers printed in blue, grey, and black. Price in pencil to the upper wrapper. Wrappers a little rubbed and toned. An excellent copy.

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