Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa


Biography of Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa

Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa (July 18, 1906 – February 27, 1992) was a Canadian-born American academic and political figure of Japanese ancestry. He was an English professor, and served as president of San Francisco State University and then as United States Senator from California from 1977 to 1983. Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, he was educated in the public schools of Calgary, Alberta and Winnipeg, Manitoba and received an undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba in 1927 and graduate degrees in English from McGill University in 1928 and the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1935.

Academic career

Professionally, Hayakawa was a linguist, psychologist, semanticist, teacher and writer. He was an instructor at the University of Wisconsin from 1936 to 1939 and at Armour Institute of Technology (now Illinois Institute of Technology) from 1939 to 1948. Hayakawa was an important semanticist. His first book on the subject, Language in Thought and Action, was published in 1949 as an expansion of the earlier work, Language in Action, written since 1938 and published in 1941 to be a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. It is currently in its fifth edition and has greatly helped popularize Alfred Korzybski's general semantics and in effect semantics in general, while semantics or theory of meaning was overwhelmed by mysticism, propagandism and even scientism.

He was a lecturer at the University of Chicago from 1950 to 1955. During this time he presented a talk at the 1954 Conference of Activity Vector Analysts at Lake George, New York in which he discussed a theory of personality from the semantic point of view. This was later published as The Semantic Barrier. This was a definitive lecture as it discussed the Darwinism of the "survival of self" as contrasted with the "survival of self-concept".

Hayakawa was an English professor at San Francisco State College (now called San Francisco State University) from 1955 to 1968. In the early 1960s, he helped organize the Anti Digit Dialing League, a group in San Francisco that opposed the introduction of all digit telephone exchange names. Among the students he trained were commune leader Stephen Gaskin and author Gerald Haslam. He became president of San Francisco State College during the turbulent period of 1968 to 1973, while Ronald Reagan served as governor of California, becoming president emeritus in 1973. Hayakawa wrote a column for the Register & Tribune Syndicate from 1970 to 1976.

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