Shri. Balvant K. Parekh Receives the 2011 J. Talbot Winchell Award

The Executive Committee of the Institute of General Semantics selected Balvant K. Parekh, the founder of Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences and Chairman of Pidilite Industries to receive the 2011 J. Talbot Winchell Award, a prize that goes to individuals for outstanding contributions and services to the field of general semantics. The award was presented during the Alfred Korzybski lecture/ symposium on 28 October 2011 at the Princeton Club in New York . Mr. Parekh is the first Asian to receive this award. Milton Dawes, Bruce Kodish, Susan Kodish, Kenneth G. Johnson and many other eminent general semanticists have received this prestigious award before.

General Semantics emphasizes the complex relationship between language and human behaviour and the unique human ability to pass information and knowledge across time which Korzybski, the founder of the discipline, calls time-binding. It is concerned with the assumptions underlying all symbol systems and their impact on human lives, communications and social behaviour. General Semantics world view trains the human mind to be more aware of and sensitive to the use of language or any other symbol system for comprehension and communication. General Semantics gives one the ability to adapt to change. Korzybski conceptualized General Semantics during a historical juncture of world wide turmoil and bloodshed. The insights from the World Wars have helped him ponder about the deeply ingrained problems in human thinking and actions and the solutions that would rescue the humanity from total destruction. General Semantics is a plea for overcoming the fundamental flaws in human perceptions, uncritical acceptance of what is taken to be ‘age old truths.’ This understanding of Korzybski makes General Semantics non-Aristotelian, non-Newtonian and non-theological in nature. General Semantics makes the practitioner more tolerant and open to ideas and develops in one an ability to think independently and constructively. For the same reason, it has great usefulness in pedagogy and tackling conflicts. Consciousness of abstracting implied in the tenet ‘Map is not the Territory, Word is not the Thing Defined’ has influenced the informed discernment of ‘reality’ especially in the case of media and helps one to be insular to the deception of symbols, and hence less vulnerable and more alert.

Balvant K. Parekh’s approach has revolutionized the study and understanding of General Semantics in India . A voracious reader of the texts of general semantics and a practicing general semanticist, Mr. Parekh continues to benefit from the ideas of Korzybski and his fellow thinkers. In his personal and professional life, he creatically (creatively and critically) applies the principles of General Semantics and the results have always been remarkable. True to his policy of sharing the best of everything with others, Balvant Parekh decided to establish a Centre which would familiarize the people of India with General Semantics.

By incorporating the study of human sciences and including issues like media, communication, culture studies, health, education, etc. under the rubric of general semantics, he could save general semantics from disciplinary stagnation and isolation. This definitely makes general semantics more dynamic and useful. The Centre not only engages in an academic pursuit of the discipline of general semantics as a philosophical discipline, but also promotes the awareness of it in the contexts of everyday practices and actual lived experiences and situations among people from different walks of life.

Balvant K. Parekh Received the 2011 J. Talbot Winchell Award on 28 October 2011

The Executive Committee of the Institute of General Semantics selected Balvant K. Parekh to receive the 2011 J. Talbot Winchell Award, a prize that goes to individuals for outstanding contributions and services to the field of general semantics. The award was presented during the annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture on 28 October 2011 at the Princeton Club in New York . Mr. Parekh could not attend the function due to ill health. Professor Prafulla Kar received the Award on his behalf and read out his Acceptance Speech. Mr. Devkumar Trivedi, Member, Board of Trust was also present in the ceremony. Dr. Kar and Mr. Trivedi presented papers titled “The Humanities in a Digital Age” and “Window-View” respectively in the Symposium organized by the Institute of General Semantics , USA as a sequel to the Korzybski Memorial Lecture.

 The 59th Annual Alfred Korzbyski Lecture/Symposium Weekend

A Report by Martin Levinson, President, The Institute of General Semantics

      The 59th Annual Alfred Korzybski Lecture/Symposium weekend was a huge success, with over 100 people in attendance at the Princeton Club on October 28th for MIT-Professor Sherry Turkle’s keynote speech “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other.” Before Professor Turkle’s talk the J. Talbot Winchell Award, which was given this year to Balvant K. Parekh and accepted by IGS trustee Prafulla Kar, and the Hayakawa Book Prize, which went to Bruce I. Kodish for his book Korzybski: A Biography, were presented. After the talk Professor Turkle signed copies of her new book, which has the same title as her presentation, for those wishing to purchase it.

      The following day symposium goers heard eighteen general-semantics-related presentations: such as The Influence of General Semantics on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Korzybski’s Legacy: What is It? How Do We Carry it on?, The Canvas is not the Territory, and The Humanities in the Digital Age. Bruce Kodish’s Korzybksi biography, Gerald Haslam’s new book In Thought and Action (a biography of S. I. Hayakawa), Lance Strate’s new work On the Binding Biases of Time, and Corey Anton’s new tome Communication Uncovered: General Semantics and Media Ecology were among the books for sale at the symposium.  

      The final day of the AKML lecture/symposium included a panel presentation titled Korzybski Goes to College: General Semantics and Interdisciplinary Education and a roundtable discussion on Whither General Semantics. All conference attendees received a handsome IGS tote bag and desk folder and the new Continuing Education Guide to Teaching General Semantics authored by Martin H. Levinson. Student volunteers from Manhattan College assisted in the AKML-registration process and staffed the book-selling table. Manhattan College students also did the videotaping for the conference. That videotape can be seen at the Institute of General Semantics web site (www.generalsemantics.org).