November 18, 2012

Did you know Helen Keller had a dog?

Ann George's discussion of Burke and Hellen Keller brought up an interesting point concerning the nature of experience. A huge criticism of Keller's work was her lack of direct sensory experience. That essentially her thoughts lacked sensory validity, and thus, should be taken less seriously (How can a blind person describe a sunset? How can a deaf person discuss music? etc.).

The evidence Keller provides to refute these claims is astounding, "The blind child...has inherited the mind of seeing and hearing ancestors–a mind measured to five senses. Therefore, he must be influenced, even if it be unknown to himself by the light, color, and song which have been transmitted through the language he is taught, for the chambers of the mind are ready to receive that language."

While this may or may not be true, the implications of such a statement have a huge impact on rhetorical theory. Keller is hinting at a predestination of language, the idea that we naturally take in certain facets of language, and are thus colored by that language. In face, it almost sounds like Burke's discussion of terministic screens. Am I wrong in this assumption? Or are they both getting at the ways in which language reflects, selects, and deflects reality?

1 comment:

Zack Morris said...

Though that is her theory on the situation. I cant necessarily take that as scientific truth. She may have developed some other senses in which an average human has not in order to perceive but regardless she still cannot hear of see. Her senses are not the same as ours so her experiences and perceptions will always be different than ours. She may be able to see a sunset in her own way but that is not the same sunset that I see. And that is not to take away from her in any way, its just different.

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