Helen Keller and the Power of Language to Actualize Humanness
McNally Robinson, Travel Alcove, 1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg
What if you, like Helen Keller, were deaf, mute, and blind? What would your life be like if the only reality you knew was what you could touch, taste, or smell? What if you had normal human capacity to feel physically and emotionally, and your brain had normal human capacity to remember and learn, but you had no words for the objects of your senses, or anything beyond them? Would you even be able to think? Words are socially constructed symbols that arbitrarily represent some sensual or abstract referent. Without them we are incapable of formulating or comprehending psychological, social, cultural, historical, or spiritual reality, and are devoid of “ideas” or meaning itself. Language is a symbol system without which we are less than fully human.
Dennis Hiebert (PhD, University of Manitoba) is the Providence Department Head of Arts and Sciences. He is also editor of the Journal of Sociology and Christianity, a past president of the Christian Sociological Association, and the author of Sweet Surrender: How Cultural Mandates Shape Christian Marriage (Wipf & Stock, 2013).