Friday, September 23, 2011

2011 Hayakawa Book Prize To Be Awarded For Korzybski: A Biography

The Institute of General Semantics (IGS) will present me with its 2011 S. I. Hayakawa Book Prize for Korzybski: A Biography at the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture (AKML) Banquet on Friday, October 28 at the Princeton Club in New York City.  

My getting this award may seem ironic, given some of the criticisms I've detailed about Hayakawa in the biography and in past articles (especially "Getting Off of Hayakawa's Ladder," but also "In the Name of Skepticism: Martin Gardner's Misrepresentations of General Semantics," and "Contra Max Black: An Examination of Critiques of General-Semantics," ) published in the General Semantics Bulletin

Nonetheless, I've never denied Hayakawa's talents as a writer, editor and teacher. His elaboration of Korzybski's work, however attenuated much of it has seemed to me, has no doubt had some good effects. Here's an account of Hayakawa's influence on one person.

The Institute began giving the Hayakawa Prize in 2009 and I feel honored to have my name added to those of the two previous winners and their truly excellent books: 

Laura Bertone


Hidden Side of Babel: Unveiling Cognition, Intelligence and Sense. (Buenos Aries: EvoluciĆ³n, 2006.)

Bob Eddy


Graymanship: The Management of Organizational Imperfection. (Lake Mary, FL: GIST Publishing Co., 2010.)

I'll attend the AKML Banquet to receive the prize and look forward to hearing Sherry Turkle, who as the 59th Annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecturer will be presenting material from her latest book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Turkle has done important research which actually provides corroborating data for one of Korzybski's earliest predictions: that the rapid growth of technology and associated socio-cultural changes would increasingly challenge human abilities to cope and to relate to one another (elaborated in his 1921 Manhood of Humanity).

A two-day symposium entitled "Communicating in the 21st Century" will follow. I'll speak on Saturday, October 29 on "Korzybski's Legacy: What Is It? How Do We Carry It On?"

I make an effort to keep minimum expectations about everything that I can and definitely do expect to have an interesting time