December 19th, 2011 • 10:24 PM
Helen Keller's Sense of Self

by Meghan Rouillard

At the end of LaRouche’s recent report “The Strategic Situation Now”, he discusses the fact that while knowledge does not come from the senses, they do serve an important provocative function. He refers, perhaps surprisingly in this context , to the case of Helen Keller:

"Since human knowledge, as such, depends upon that link of the physical to the mental life of the human individual, a mental life which is moored in the use of the human brain for the management of the traffic in products of sense-perception, the most significant of the qualitative advances in human behavior must originate in sense-perception as the celebrated case of Helen Keller points our attention."

If anyone has not seen footage of her, I recommend it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ch_H8pt9M8

In fact, Keller’s use of her limited sensations is very instructive, and can not only help us reconceptualize our 5 senses, as Keller makes use of them in a seemingly unorthodox way, it also suggests their limits, as the intriguing case of Keller’s intense enjoyment of music suggests, something which is visible to anyone who has seen footage of it. Being a creature who can feel vibrations, it’s hard to conceive of them alone invoking such passion. I happen to be reading a book of hers called "Teacher," which focuses especially on the relationship she had with Anne Sullivan. The preface, written by Nella Brady Henney, recaps the case which Keller herself has discussed as to how she triangulated between the senses she had, and also alludes to this special mystery of what she in fact "heard" when listening to music. I’ll quote a passage here for those less familiar with her case and LaRouche’s reference to her:

"...at Wrentham, she began “The World I Live In”, taking mischievous delight in answering the pundits who had scolded her for describing what she could not see and for using words having to do with color and sound. She hoped (vainly of course) that this would be the last time she would have to explain that she had built up this part of her world through association and imagination. "All sigh is of the soul." From the back of her own horse the wings of fancy could lift her to the steeds of Apollo. From the flicker of a candle, the warmth of the fire, and the heat of the sun, she could perceive that there were different intensities of light. When her cheeks flushed hot she knew they were red and when the leaves unfolded in the spring she knew they were green. And because she could taste the difference in fruits of the same kind (apples, for instance) and smell the difference in flowers of the same kind (roses, for instance) she could infer that a single color might appear in many different shades. What she "hears" when she listens to music with her hand we cannot know, but she could not make it plainer if she invented words to tell us. She has taken the language as she found it and has never discovered a reason why she should not say "I see" and "I hear" when it is the simplest way to express herself."

It’s as though Keller creates entirely new sensations which subsume the two senses she is trying to bridge--is this not a case of metaphor? In the subsequent passage of LaRouche’s report he refers to the “recognition of the evidence of the system of the phenomena of what might be fairly identified as the “electro-chemical” domain.” Could such a broadly defined sensation explain how Keller experiences music? Or perhaps it’s something else altogether. We also published a report on the “Extended Sensorium” last year which people can peruse to further explore these questions of mind, sense perception, as well as the case of Helen Keller.

* Please follow the Commenting Guidlines.

ABOUT THE BASEMENT

The Basement Project began in 2006 as a core team of individuals tasked with the study of Kepler's New Astronomy, laying the scientific foundations for an expanded study of the LaRouche-Riemann Science of Physical Economics. Now, that team has expanded both in number, and in areas of research, probing various elements and aspects of the Science of Physical Economy, and delivering in depth reports, videos, and writings for the shaping of economic policy.

LATEST FORUM DISCUSSIONS

PEDAGOGY PACKAGES

CONTACT THE BASEMENT