Smt. Chandibai Himathmal Mansukhani College , Ulhasnagar , Mumbai

Inauguration of the Nodal Centre, 11 September 2013

Prof. Kar and Prof. Golay with the organizers

General Semantics is a radical promise to humanity - that the true potential of the human species is far bigger than what has been realized so far; all we need is to break away from the rigid mindset of fixed definitions and engage ourselves in the true search for possibilities; our progression then will no longer be ‘arithmetic,’ but will be ‘geometric’ in the true sense. We do not have any notion about how long the road ahead is going to be and have no illusion that the journey would be smooth; yet this important baby step does hold a lot of promise.

Organized by the International Program Committee of Smt. CHM College, the inauguration of the Nodal Centre on 11 September 2013 was a simple and humble academic program. Prof Prafulla Kar graced the occasion as the Chief Guest, Dr Pravesh Jung of IIT Bombay joined as the Guest of Honour. The program started with a welcome note by the Principal of the College, Dr Bhavna Motwani. The key attraction was two successive distinguished lectures by Prof Kar and Dr Jung, which was thoroughly enjoyed by an alert audience of nearly 100 people largely comprising of graduate and research students and the faculty of the college.

After signing the MOU

Defining General Semantics as a study of relationships by creating meanings around oneself, Dr. Kar, in his talk titled “General Semantics in the Context of Human Sciences,” emphasized the concept of human being as a time binder and how this simple way of looking at the human nature opens up the latent and untapped potential inherently present in the human species. That is how scientific thinking can give a new promise to the otherwise lackluster domain of human sciences. There is no doubt that the continuous development of physical sciences, along with the derived technologies, has produced many things for the betterment of human life. But unless a sound scientific thinking (not a mechanical scientistic thinking), grounded in the tenets of General Semantics, lays the foundation of human sciences, we shall not be in a position to receive these developments in the right way. The critical need of the hour, Prof Kar concluded, is to be the ‘thinking man’ constantly engaged in the basic question – “what it exactly means to be human?”

Professor Pravesh Jung’s talk titled “Language and Reality: An Enigmatic Relation” was a fascinating discourse on the problematic relation between language and reality. Invoking the experience of magic and tracing the historical debate on the language-reality relation to Plato and Aristotle, he pondered over the question – “Can language change the reality?” To Plato, reality is a given and therefore, language can only express it, not change it. Aristotle modified Plato’s view by suggesting that language can be a powerful tool in understanding what reality ought to be. But through the philosophical movement of ‘Linguistic Turn,’ contemporary thinkers like Wittgenstein and Sartre have asserted that language can indeed change reality. This is where Jung brought in Korzybski and stressed on the methodology that General Semantics proposes to see language through the prism of responsibility. Indeed, language plays a major role in shaping reality and therefore, it is critical that this extremely powerful tool is used with utmost responsibility and caution by each individual. This novel emphasis of General Semantics on language can give a new hope to human harmony – this was the gist of Jung’s talk.

Both Prof Kar and Dr Jung then spent about an hour answering to an inquisitive audience. It was heartening to see the spirit of General Semantics come alive during the 3 hours duration of the program. The program concluded with the signing of a formal MOU between Balvant Parekh Centre and Smt CHM College which was symbolic of great mutual commitment and a long-term academic partnership.

Apart from seminars, workshops and conferences on various aspects of General Semantics, the Nodal Centre proposes to offer certificate courses to both students and teachers in and around Mumbai through a well-designed curriculum. This will be our humble attempt to pay tribute to the life time commitment of Late Balvant Parekh and keep the fire of General Semantics burning.

Deepa Mishra Convener, Nodal Centre, CHM College