Noam Chomsky, the Jewish-American linguistics expert and an outspoken critic of U.S. and Israel, was named the world's top public intellectual by the British magazine Prospect.
In a poll conduced by the magazine, in which more than 20,000 people participated, about a quarter of the voters (4,800) elected Chomsky the world's leading thinker.
Second in the poll came Italian novelist Umberto Eco, with 2,500 votes, while Oxford science professor Richard Dawkins took third place honors. Vaclav Havel, the playwright and former Czech president came in fourth on the prestigious list.
The magazine has presented the participants in the poll with a list of 100 names, from which they chose who they believed is the world's most prominent intellectual.
Chomsky, a Linguistics professor at MIT, who is considered a pioneer of modern linguistics, has also become known as a political activist and a philosopher of "the new left."
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to parents who were Hebrew teachers, Chomsky studied Hebrew from an early age and was raised as a socialist and a member of the Zionist Hashomer Hatzair youth movement.
After he completed his doctorate degree in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, Chomsky took on a teaching position at MIT.
His first book, Syntactic Structures, was published in 1957 and revolutionized the field of linguistics.
Even though many disagree with Chomsky's theories, his school is considered to date the most influential in the field.
His approach to linguistics, and to the psychology and the philosophy of language acquisition has earned Chomsky his acclaim.
Chomsky claims that every person is born with an inborn system which enables him to acquire language without parent intervention. This mechanism, according to Chomsky, is specific to humans, is biological and genetically inherited.
A critic of Israel
In wake of the Vietnam War, Chomsky became one of the foremost objectors to U.S. foreign policy and a leader of what was to be known "the new left."
He is the author of numerous books and political articles, many of which express harsh criticism over the American government and its actions across the world.
Chomsky has also become a harsh critic of Israel ever since the country's occupation of the territories in 1967 during the Six-Day war.