VIII National Workshop, “Time-binding and Social Responsibility” (in collaboration with Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Udaipur), 18-21-November 2014
For us, General Semantics is a comparatively a new academic area which is useful in understanding the interrelatedness of various disciplines in Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. It opens up a new dimension to the theoretical understanding of the world. This and the general inquisitiveness about critical theory motivated the department of English, JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University to organize the VIII National Workshop on “Time Binding and Social Responsibility” in association with Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences at the University Campus, Pratapnagar from November18th to 21st.
At the inauguration
A musical rendering during the inaugural function
Forty five participants registered themselves for the workshop. The inaugural function was chaired by Prof. Shiv Singh Sarangdevot, the Vice Chancellor of Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth Deemed University. He talked of the need for educating the masses particularly the rural population and the marginal sections of the society. The Chief Guest of the inaugural function, Prof. Seema Malik, Dean, Post Graduate Studies and Research, M.L. Sukhadia University, Udaipur stated that the concept of Time binding was a new concept to her. She remarked that the clubbing of time binding with Social responsibility is important. Elaborating further she added that the individual’s responsibility is to acquire and assimilate knowledge in the right perspective and to transmit it to the next generation. Prof. Mukta Sharma, Head, Department of English, Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University introduced the concept of Time-binding by referring to the key ideas of Alfred Korzybski. Prof. P. C. Kar introduced the Centre and the theme of the workshop. He paid his respects to Mr. Balvant Parekh, and described him as an institution builder. Mr. Parekh was fond of reading and understood the idea of social responsibility. Prof. Kar opined that we have to think of the Universities as places where ideas are not just disseminated but are produced. The continuum of our existence and knowledge needs to be enriched with new ways of thinking, innovations and creativity. We don’t work for our immediate benefit. The benefit of new ideas will be realized after centuries. This is what is Time-binding. Dr. Bini B.S., Academic Fellow of the Centre proposed the vote of thanks.
A session with PC Kar
In the keynote address, Prof. P.C. Kar defined time –binding as human progress as seen from the perspective of general semantics, an educational discipline created by Alfred Korzybski in the 1930s. He said that all humans are accountable for what they do whether consciously or unconsciously. We need to think out of the box in order to be capable of starting a new narrative.
In the post lunch session Dr. Bini B.S. conducted a workshop “Understanding Korzybski’s Credo on Social Responsibility: An Analysis of Manhood of Humanity. Referring to the World War I experience she pointed out why, according to Korzybski, the World War should have made man mature enough to value human life. She said that Hitler used the term Social Engineering meaning thereby manipulative consent generation removing all kinds of dissent. Such demagogues thrive in all oppressive regimes. They are negative time–binders. She maintained that linguistic conscience and intellectual honesty are necessary for positive time–binding which is a significant social responsibility. In the evening session Ms. Mehzabeen Sadriwala, Assistant Professor in the department of English at the University divided the participants into five groups and assigned tasks to them.
The second day began with workshop II conducted by Dr. Bini B.S. titled “Structural Differential and the Consciousness of Abstracting.” She started with the idea that one cannot understand any event, object or person in totality. One needs to have a healthy skepticism and tolerance towards diversity. Using paintings based on literary narratives as examples, she built up the argument that one should not accept representation as ‘reality’. The participants appreciated the colorful pictures and their interpretation.
Prof. P.C. Kar conducted the third workshop on “Thalamo-Cortical Integration and Extensional Devices.” He stated that the idea of sameness is an illusion. One cannot bathe in the same river again. Once you are in the process of verbalization, the journey of representation begins. He maintained that the Thalamus side refers to instinctive, emotional and the passionate side of an individual whereas Cortex represents the rational side. A blending of both is desirable and the brain can be trained to do that. But this balance is rare. The workshop was followed by a panel discussion and open session in which the participants debated on the issues raised in the sessions conducted earlier.
The third day began with a workshop conducted by Prof. Kar on “The Role of Language in the Perceptual Processes.” He said that though one perceives the world through language, language itself is a very complex entity. It is a medium of rhetorical complexity. Alfred Korzybski says that if you think in terms of language, then language starts determining your thoughts. There is a danger of language becoming a means of indoctrination, coercion and silencing. Prof. Kar argued why one cannot but see the world through language and not otherwise. Thinking is pre-verbal, not post verbal, he added. Sight is linguistic while insight is pre-linguistic. Thus language becomes both an opportunity and a challenge.
This was followed by a workshop conducted by Bini B.S. on “Non-Aristotelian Orientation and Extensional Devices.” She stated that extensional devices are means through which certain thought processes can be internalized. In an exhaustive presentation she summarized all the basic concepts of General Semantics, and illustrated how time- binding is a social responsibility. While talking of perception and expression she explained the theoretical concept of “Map is not the Territory.” She said that the ideals of fixity, certainty, absoluteness or finality are not to be taken something to aspire for. There has to be a scope for amendment and tentativeness. She referred to Korzybski’s idea of defining people in terms of what they do rather than what they are.
A film based on Ernest Hemingway’s novel Old Man and the Sea was screened and a discussion on the film followed. The film illustrated how “a human being can be defeated, but not destroyed.” The workshop concluded with a valedictory session in which Prof. G. M. Mehta, Director of Academic Planning, summarized the proceedings and Prof. H. S. Chandalia offered a vote of thanks on behalf of the University.
Prof. H. S. Chandalia Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Udaipur