VI National Workshop

Radical General Semantics:  The Korzybskian Approach To Applied Epistemology( Epistemics)

16-19 January 2013

Jaipur National University, Jaipur


The VI National Workshop on General Semantics titled The Korzybskian Approach to Applied Epistemology( Epistemics) was jointly organised by Balvant Parekh Centre for General and Other Human Sciences, Baroda and the Department of English, Jaipur National University at Jaipur with a four day program from 16 to 19 January 2013. The core faculty of the workshop was Bruce Kodish, an independent scholar researcher, writer, speaker, teacher and consultant and the author of Korzybski: A Biography. He happens to be a physical therapist in Pasadena, California, USA. The inauguration of the workshop was held in a ceremonious manner with the enthusiastic presence of more than 35 participants from various parts of India and the state of Rajasthan along with students and faculty of various departments of Jaipur National University. Welcome address was delivered by KK Gautam, the coordinator of the workshop and also the Director of School of Languages , Literature and Society, JNU. He stressed the importance and scope of effective communication among the members of the society and the relevance of General Semantics in this broader framework. Professor Prafulla Kar in his typical scholarly introduction to Balvant Parekh Centre made a spell binding analysis of the concept of time binding as propagated by Korzybski, to be relevantly applied in a bonding between generations. In absence of the Chancellor of JNU, the inaugural address was delivered by Prof HN Verma, the Pro Vice Chancellor of JNU. Bruce Kodish in his thematic introduction offered some general observations on his study of Korzybsky and general semantics. He also stressed the significance of an inculcation of awareness of the limitation of absolutism and relevance of interdisciplinarity. The semantic environment, in which we live, is worked out in concordance with the general theory of evaluation and here is where, the relevance of Korzybskian study emerges.

Bruce Kodish

      In Session 1 of the workshop deliberations, Bruce Kodish went on to elaborate from the theoretical premises of general semantics and also the life and anecdotes of Korzybski. His deliberation immediately could impress upon the participants because of the strength of his felt experiences and also for his genuine involvement in the study of general semantics. The next session was successfully conducted by another eminent scholar of the discipline, Devkumar Trivedi, who reflected upon the subject, “Translaction(Stereo-Sanity)”.In this interesting session he deliberated upon various ambiguities that emerge in our use of specific terms and the need for using delayed reactions in order to arrive at proper evaluation of things and states and persons. With graphic examples he cited ways for translaction, a coinage by which he meant the process for transference into reality, translate into action, the idea or concepts. The interest of the participants was evoked by various workshop activities like playing of music and interaction among them on its effect on the mind. The last session of the 1st day was marked by an avid and very candid presentation by Bini B S on the topic “Time-binding and Creatical Approach to Knowledge: the Conserving and Subversive Possibilities of Teaching/Learning”. In her contention, the speaker emphasized the need of introducing the democratic process of dialogue and questions in the process of education. As she put it, authorities are always suspicious of knowledge dissemination; hence they promote a culture of silence. Healthy skepticism being at the root of every educative process, knowledge can be an effective means of social change. Citing Neil Postman, Bertrand Russell, and Korzybski, she spoke of positive time binding as a conscious and conscientious process, through which human beings become trustees of future.

  The principal faculty, Bruce Kodish in various sessions of his attempted a thorough analysis of concepts of GS (general semantics) and the ways of application in day to day proceedings and activities of man. He also encouraged queries and questions from the participants so that diverse aspects of this method could be brought under discussion. His explanation of the structural differential or the parabola of experiences evinced instant interest among the audience. Jasbir Jain in her well thought out presentation reflected upon the gaps and bridges between 1921 and 1993, the years of publication of Science and Sanity by Korzybski and Korzybski: A Biography by Bruce Kodish. Using a method of comparative study and also reader’s response theory, Ms Jain dealt extensively on the two books and also on methods of general semantics. In appropriate contexts she referred back to George Steiner and Aldous Huxley and “purposive activity of man”. Another resource person Santosh Gupta, deliberated upon various influential methods of general semantics and prospective benefits for the society. On the last day of the workshop an illuminating panel discussion was held and all the present faculties, Devkumar Trivedi, Jasbir Jain, Prafulla C Kar and Santosh Gupta along with Bruce Kodish offered opinions on the topic, “The Prospects of General Semantics in India” and everyone stressed the need of promoting this study across the country and praised the seminal role played by Balvant Parekh Centre in this regard. Workshop assignments were allotted to the participants and each of them participated and made interesting presentations on various topics of general semantics and associated ideas on the last and penultimate days of the workshop. VI National workshop was concluded with great satisfaction to the participants as everyone felt that this joint venture of both the organizing institutes, Balvant Parekh Centre, Baroda and Jaipur National University, Jaipur would contribute effectively towards promotion and development of the study of general semantics in the country.    

                 Devkumar Trivedi                                                             Jasbir Jain

                        K.K. Gautam                                               A section of the audience