Research Grant for General Semantics and Other Allied Areas

Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences has instituted research fellowships and grants for doing study and research in General Semantics and other allied areas. Those who are doing M. Phil. and doctoral research, or writing books, research papers, or monographs, books or preparing study material for courses are welcome to apply for the grant by sending detailed proposals any time during the year. The grant may include a fellowship at the Centre for a short-term duration of one month, or a long-term duration of three months; or visit to a resource centre in or outside India for collection of material for a research project. Those who are accepted for receiving the grant will be paid for their travel by train and a monthly allowance of Rs.25,000/ (Twenty five thousand) for visiting the Centre in Baroda. In special cases, proposals to visit overseas archives for collecting material for book writing projects may be considered. We accept proposals throughout the year.   

Those who have availed the Senior Fellowship

Professor Jasbir Jain’s (August – September 2013)

Professor Jasbir Jain spent a month at the Centre to work on a project titled “Korzybski: Change of Mind or Change of Heart” under the fellowship program. Formerly a Professor of the University of Rajasthan, she has been an Emeritus Fellow at the same university and a writer-in- residence at Sahitya Akademi. She presented a paper at the Bakhtin Conference and delivered a talk on “‘Map is not the Territory’: Shifting/ Evolving Turns in General Semantics” on 23 August 2013 at the Centre. In her talk, Professor Jain brought in interpretations of General Semantics ideas such as ‘the map is not the territory,’ ‘consciousness of abstracting’ and ‘delayed reaction’ using analogies, references to literary texts and historical events. She made a significant critique of General Semantics terminology, especially “Human Engineering” by emphasizing that such terms give rise to misevaluation and confusion for those who are not familiar with the oeuvre of Korzybski’s work. During her stay, she counseled the staff of the Centre about their research areas.  

Professor TRS Sharma January-February 2014

Professor TRS Sharma was awarded a senior fellowship to work on a project “Korzybski and Intertheoretic Explorations” by the Centre. Prof. Sharma stayed at the Centre from 8 January - 20 February 2014 consulted books on General Semantics and other allied disciplines, and participated in the academic discussions and other activities of the Centre, including the silver jubilee seminar of the Forum. He delivered a lecture on the topic of his research on 17 February 2014. In the lecture, Dr. Sharma analyzed the connections between general semantics and other philosophical scientific domains of thought such as existentialism, neurosciences, linguistics and psychology. His major critique of general semantics was that though many didactic views and nyayavakyas are found in or can be derived from the works of Korzybski, a modification of human attitudes and behavior that Korzybski had envisioned still remains a utopian dream.  He inquired how the gap between theory and praxis of general semantics can be bridged given the somewhat biologically deterministic view Korzybski presents in his works. The significant parallels and differences that Dr. Sharma found between Indian philosophical and aesthetic traditions and general semantics may lead to a significant study that he intends to pursue in future. TRS Sharma as Smith-Mundt/Fulbright Fellow got his MA in American literature from the University of Colorado , and a PhD from the University of Alberta , Canada .  He has been a Fellow of the K.K. Birla Foundation, New Delhi , and at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. His publications include Dialogics of Cultures in Ancient Indian Literature, Reflections and Variations on the Mahabharata, ed. with an Introduction), Toward an Alternative Critical Discourse and Robert Frost’s Poetic Style.  He has translated the 13th century Kannada Jain classic Yasodhara Carite into English as Tale of the Glory-Bearer (Penguin India, 1993); was the Chief Editor of Ancient Indian Literature: An Anthology in 3 Volumes (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi , 2000).     

An Overview of the Research Project Undertaken by Pravesh Jung Golay

Under the fellowship program of the Centre, Dr. Pravesh Jung Golay from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay is doing a 2 years long project on the texts and contexts of Korzybski. Though it is well understood and undeniable that Korzybski’s works were meant as an “application” oriented engagement, it is equally well understood that the grounds of this applicative works were firmly rooted in a theoretical basis that Korzybski himself argued for in his works. Golay’s work thus precisely intends to explore and make lucid the theoretical underpinnings of Korzybski’s works. The work would employ a historical analysis of the ideas arguing for the context of Korzybski’s Manhood of Humanity and Science and Sanity. In doing so it would make an attempt to analytically elaborate upon the central thesis of Korzybski’s works, locating them within the context of the ground of their emergence. Towards this end, the work would elaborate upon the central thesis entailed by the Korzybskian notion of Aristotelian so that it becomes easier to see the relevance of Korzybski’s positioning of his views as Non-Aristotelian.

The work would frame Korzybski’s works within the schema of an attempt to systematize the relations that holds between the three primordial verbs of “being,” “knowing” and “doing.” Given Korzybski’s emphatic insistence on the need to recognize the elementalistic fallacy in the History of Ideas, where one is lured into treating the parts of a whole as distinct and self-contained wholes themselves; the work reads Korzybski’s endeavor as an attempt to eliminate the basic tri-polar division between “knowing,” “doing” and “being,” and would treat Korzybski’s effort as consequently leading to the bridging of the divisions between ethics and epistemology by locating them within the notion of a “holistic or non-elementalistic” being that is a “being-as-a-whole-in-an-environment.”

However, the work does not intend to trace the evolution of general semantics over the years as a mode of practice in its years of evolutions and would not concern itself with the recent deviations and partitions among the discipline that have taken place over the last few decades. It confines itself and focuses or centres on the works of Korzybski. The planned outcome is a book on Korzybski’s works rather than on general semantics as such.