Before my teacher came to me, I did not know that I am. I lived in a world that was a no-world. I cannot hope to describe adequately that unconscious, yet conscious time of nothingness...since I had no power of thought, I did not compare one mental state with another.
So who was Helen Keller? From Wikipedia:
Helen Keller was born at an estate called Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880, to parents Captain Arthur H. Keller, a former officer of the Confederate Army, and Kate Adams Keller, second cousin of Robert E. Lee. She was not born blind and deaf; it was not until nineteen months of age that she came down with an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which could have possibly been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind.
Let's relate this back to one of my most popular posts on the forbidden experiment - where I made the assertion that a child raised without human contact will not be conscious. A baby raised in isolation, on a life-support machine, fed by tubes etc could not develop into a conscious adult, because it would have no way of acquiring the mental tricks to begin thinking. Isn't this what Helen Keller's quote supports? More evidence comes from Helen Keller's educational experience. From Wikipedia:
The school delegated teacher and former student Sullivan got permission from Helen's father to isolate the girl from the rest of the family in a little house in their garden. Her first task was to instill discipline in the spoiled girl. Helen's big breakthrough in communication came one day when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on her palm, while running cool water over her palm from a pump, symbolized the idea of "water"; she then nearly exhausted Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world (including her prized doll). In 1890, ten-year-old Helen Keller was introduced to the story of Ragnhild Kåta - a deaf blind Norwegian girl who had learned to speak. Ragnhild Kåta's success inspired Helen — she wanted to learn to speak as well. Anne was able to teach Helen to speak using the Tadoma method (touching the lips and throat of others as they speak) combined with "fingerspelling" alphabetical characters on the palm of Helen's hand. Later, Keller would also learn to read English, French, German, Greek, and Latin in Braille.
Because Helen's vision and hearing had been disabled, the teacher had to use the other senses to convey information and with a lot of hard work, Helen was able to live a very productive and essentially normal life. One further Helen Keller quote:
"When I learned the meaning of 'I' and 'me' and found that I was something, I began to think. Then consciousness first existed for me"
So, Helen Keller is a really interesting example of what happens when you interfere in the development of a human infant. Because of her disability, the components of thinking could not be downloaded to her through the conventional channels and instead new and novel ways of getting information into Helen's brain were used. The clone raised in the box would never get this element, which is so vital to the development of full human cognition. Arguing that it would somehow still be like a human is to ignore the evidence that people like Helen Keller provide.Go Top