Feliks Mikhailov
The Riddle of the Self


Spinoza once observed that to know something is to be able to make something. If on the basis of our theoretical suppositions about the origins of consciousness, we were able to inspire, to make conscious a body clearly lacking in consciousness, then, as Spinoza suggests, our suppositions would become knowledge, the answer to the riddle of the Self. After all, is not a fundamental understanding of the nature of consciousness claimed by those who today assure us that quite soon, and certainly not later than the year 2,000, an artificial intellect will at last be made by man? “... The construction of an artificial thinking system, built out of other elements, but in its total effect reproducing the same highest programme – thought – is quite feasible.” [N. M. Amosov, Modelling of Thought and Mind]

If this were so, we could confidently consider our riddle solved. And this is, in fact, the view of those who along with the above-mentioned author declare with great assurance that consciousness is the ability to receive, preserve and process information according to the programmes inherent in the brain. No fundamental problems are involved. What difference is there, for instance, between the living organism and a machine? Only the complexity of its organisation. This was the view taken three hundred years ago by Descartes, who believed that all the phenomena of life could be explained by the laws of mechanics. And so it is today: “The main difference between the organism and a technological control system is the large number. of levels involved. This makes the living system so much more complex that technology as yet has nothing to match it.” However, man is also “a system capable of perceiving external influences, extracting information from them, processing it through the formation of numerous models at different levels, and influencing the environment with multi-level programmes. In most general form man is a programme-controlled automation.. . Or to put it another way, man is a self-teaching and self-adjusting system.”

And to clear up any possible doubts or misunderstandings, man is an automation inasmuch as his activity “is based on a programme that is right inside him and not somewhere outside him” , and therefore, “there can be no question of any 'free will' as opposed to determinism” . [1] What enviable confidence that man's essence is now perfectly well known, and even backed up by plans for making an artificial intellect. This is certainly a case of knowing means making. Only the technical difficulties constitute a temporary obstacle in the way of reproducing the phenomenon of thought (and consciousness as a whole) in other, “non-biological” material. But we can be sure that in a few years' time our knowledge (what we have already?) will be objectified in the form of a likeable kind of robot that solves Zeno's puzzles at the drop of a hat and gives its own highly original interpretation of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

We should be prepared to wait not three but three hundred and three years for the fulfilment of such a promise, but all the same... It sometimes, indeed quite often, happens that “technical difficulties” hide the real trouble, the heart of the problem. And here it seems to me there is yet another misunderstanding.

If thinking is merely the reception, programmed processing and output of information, why should we have to wait so many years and decades? Robots programmed to perform similar actions, and performing them quite successfully, already exist. What is it that thinking robots lack? Emotions? But can't this psychological state be modelled in cybernetic terms? Again we open N. M. Amosov's book: “Emotions are the stimulation of quite definite centres in the cortex which have a clear biological purpose (we shall discuss this in more detail later on).” And here is an example of some of the interesting “details” : “Pleasant sensations arise from affection, from stroking, for example, or from affectionate sounds. This is related to the instinct to continue the species. It is important because it is the basis of vanity.” [2]

So this is why we shall have to wait so long. They haven't yet taught the machine the programme for continuation of the species and for the time being it isn't getting any pleasure out of stroking or vanity. But all the same... According to the “cybernetic” definition of thinking, it thinks! Without emotions perhaps, but it can think or rather, I beg your pardon, it processes information. So though it may not be fully operative, the artificial intellect has already been created in its main function? Does this mean that at least we know the essence of the process?

Now, in my view, this is the point where the misunderstanding begins. Most of the works written about cybernetic and “neuro-cybernetic” interpretation of the mind and thought processes treat thought on the same level as all the other manifestations of consciousness.

The general impression is that human thinking implies Only a very subjective attitude to “information” . And this is why the “technical difficulties” conceal the heart of the matter. It is too early yet to speak of solving the mystery of consciousness.

The riddle remains a riddle because it was stated quite wrongly in the first place. The book you are now coming to the end of has been entirely devoted to how the problem of the human soul, of consciousness has been posed throughout the history of man's knowledge of himself. We have seen that the essence of the problem does not lie in whether the human brain is capable or incapable of reacting to external influences. The essence of it is why and how a human being can know the essence of things that exist outside him. Or to put the same thing in a different way: How a person can know the capabilities of objects and processes of the external world. How can he know something that does not exist in nature itself, that will never be there without his intervention, but that nature is capable of in principle? So the actual problem of consciousness is not only and not so much a problem of the “reproducing” in cerebral processes of that which influences the brain, as a problem of the human capability for free, creative goal-setting. Or, quite simply, the problem of creativity. And, as I have already said, this problem has a twist. Yes, the brain processes information that comes to it from outside, but the question is who or what determines the way the processing is done.

We know three possible answers to this question.

One: the brain is so constructed (so programmed) that in processing (combining, generalising, analysing, synthesising, etc.) information, it produces in its “output” something new.

Two: information itself implies contradictions, the trends of their development and the way of resolving them, and this enables the brain (which has not been programmed beforehand either one way or the other) to find this way, and in so doing, to find the new element with which the information is “pregnant” .

And finally, the third possible answer ... But first let us clear up once again what we find unsatisfactory in the other two.

If the actual construction of the brain is responsible for the way the information is processed, then Amosov is right: free will is a fiction, goal-setting a reflex, creativity instinct, and human beings the obedient slaves of their own bodily organisation, automata, robots that simply “imagine” they are free to choose their programmes of action, because the programmes, including the programme of “choice” , are already there, inside them. The determinism of the brain's inner construction decides how information is combined and thus what is produced in the output. Then knowledge of essence, which enables the consciousness to imagine the world in its development as an integral whole, is nothing but a peculiarity of the “generalising programme” inherent in the brain itself and having no existence in the external world. Hobbes discussed this possibility three hundred years before the discovery of cybernetics. And the difference lies not in the logic, and not in the conclusions, but merely in terminology. Instead of a “neurodynamic system” , a “programme” and so on, Hobbes spoke of the inner power of the natural light of reason. And much later than Hobbes came Johannes Müller, who also tested this possibility in his experiments, taking its conclusions to their logical extreme. And the result was that even at the level of the simplest sensations, the “construction” (programme, etc.) of the nervous substratum determines the phenomenon of mind. But this cuts out any possibility of the identity of mind (particularly thought) and being, existence. Feuerbach called this answer “physiological idealism” . And Lenin in his book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism fully agrees with this definition.

The rationalist version of this “answer” postulated from the start a special ability of the reason (as the “neuro-cybernetics” of the brain) to operate with universal forms, ideas of reflection, innate knowledge of the essence of the world, and intuitively clear notions about it. And in order to fill the gap thus opening up between reason and the real existence of what this reason is directed at, the rationalists were compelled to rely on God, who in Descartes's words could riot be a deceiver, on “preordained harmony” between the cognisable essence and its real existence in the world (Leibnitz), and so on. Today's neuro-cyberneticists are apparently left with the hope that since the human brain Is a creation of nature, they will be rescued by a preordained harmony between children and parent.

The second “answer” also condemns man to passive reflection of particular and specific phenomena of the external world, because the problems and the ways of solving them are both hidden in these phenomena. Man finds them by using a “crib” that is cunningly passed to him by nature. In this case, too, the “preordained harmony” of thought and being is presupposed, but there is no comprehension of the real promises, causes and means that determine how thought arrives at the truth and produces on this basis something fundamentally new, something that has not yet existed in nature.

Yes, thinking is creating, and particularly creating values that are not inherent in nature itself, just as the joy of life in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is not inherent in the physics of sound waves, and the luminous sadness of Levitan's landscapes is not intrinsically connected with the chemical substances used to paint the canvas. The whole problem of consciousness, the heart of the riddle of the Self lies in understanding how in human activity the physical, the chemical and other natural being is transformed into the beautiful, the good, into honour, dignity, truth, and justice, which actually form the basis and aim of human life. How these highest spiritual, intellectual values can become the basis of a programme for a transformation of nature carried out in accordance with nature's own laws. This is the only way to approach the question of the identity of thought and being, which Engels called the great and fundamental question of philosophy.

What I have been trying to prove is that unless we consider how this question has been posed in the history of philosophy we cannot even properly state the problem of the Self. Making robots capable of processing information is a different problem, which can be associated with the riddle of the Self only by someone who sees in consciousness nothing but the sensuous biological basis of the emotions plus an ability to compute certain set alternatives.

But if thinking is creating, can we use this philosophical knowledge to give consciousness to a body deprived of consciousness? have we anything but an imaginary experiment like Condillac's proposed inspiration of a statue with which to counter the promises of the neuro-cyberneticists that they will one day construct an artificial intellect? If we could actually produce consciousness in experimental conditions, we should prove that philosophical knowledge cannot be ignored when the words, mind, thought, consciousness, creativity, are being used. But the conditions of such a real experiment must be agreed on beforehand, in other words, it must be based on theory.

So now at last we approach the third answer to the question.

The first thing we must agree upon is that no one denies the simple fact that without knowledge of something there can be no knowledge. And if, following Condillac's [3] example, we think of a – no, not a statue, but a living human body that as yet has no contact with the outside world, we shall all have to admit that such a body would have no possibility of contrasting its own existence with that of the world. And in order to give this isolated, sealed-off life a soul, consciousness, we should have to open its eyes and ears. Yes, above all, eyes and ears. For the human body these are the main and widest windows on to the world. The sense of touch, taste and smell are only “helpers” . Even sensations of touch without the support of sight and hearing (or at least the memory of space dimensions that were once felt) are quite useless by themselves.

Imagine for a moment that a group of people have lost both sight and hearing. They cannot see or hear each other. But everything of any significance that people convey to each other has an objective form that can be seen or heard. Human beings have no developed autonomous means of communication that rely on smell, taste, or touch. The deaf-blind have no means of intercourse. And where there is no intercourse there can be no communication. An external world that communicates nothing, that tells nothing about itself, is not an external world.

The sensitivity of the skin, the ability to smell and taste cease to be sensations of external objects. Warmth, sweetness .... Only smell, perhaps, brings something from outside, and even then the hand has to touch something to sense that it is external. But this is only apparent. Without the help of visual and auditory impressions, in absolute darkness and silence, neither the smell nor the hardness of an object can be associated with it as something existing apart from the sensation itself. Even darkness and silence exist only for the person who has sight and hearing, who knows what light and sound are. For the person who has never had sight or hearing, there is no such thing as darkness or silence. There is no dark and silent world existing around them.

People without sight and hearing would be not so much like animals as like plants. But since the history of their species has left them without hereditarily fixed active-biological forms of behaviour, the deaf-blind are doomed to passive immobility. But even the “vegetable existence” is not a very true comparison. A plant grows into the earth, into the atmosphere – into the world. It demands life and finds it through the activity of its organs of breathing and feeding. But the person who is blind and deaf will eat only when he is fed by others. He does not know that the source of food is not in him, he does not look for it outside him, and any hunger that he may feel has no orientation. Such creatures, who are not even vegetables, are doomed to rapid extinction.

So now, following Condillac's example, we shall conduct our main philosophical experiment. We shall try to return to life a human being who lost his sight and hearing in early childhood.

Or rather we have no need to try because the “experiment” has already been performed in reality. Not long ago I met some people who, though blind and deaf were no less conscious than you and me, people whose striking individuality could be the envy of many a well-known “personality” .

Yes, the experiment was successful. And it was conducted on the basis of clearly defined theoretical premises. This has now been acknowledged. Literature is available that traces the whole path of this creation of consciousness step by step. I mentioned the main works not in a footnote, but in the text, wishing to stress that they need to be read in full in order to appreciate the solution to the riddle of the Self that they offer. My first witness is Olga Ivanovna Skorokhodova.

At the age of five Olga lost both her sight and hearing and thus found herself in the position of the child that we had in mind when discussing the conditions of our experiment. The whole story is told in her book How I Perceive, Imagine and Understand the World Around Me. The magazine Problems of Philosophy No. 6, 1975 (in Russian) [4], contains a report on the work of A. I. Meshcheryakov and his associates, who continued the life work of I. A. Sokolyansky, the man who educated Olga Skorokhodova and made her into a writer whose work is known all over the world. The report is rightly called “An Outstanding Achievement of Soviet Science.” The journal also contains reports by four of Meshcheryakov's deaf-blind pupils and collaborators Sergei Sirotkin (In the World of the Deaf-Blind), Alexander Suvorov (Our Studies), Natalya Korneyeva (At the Sources of Mind), and Yuri Lerner (On My Work).

A. N. Leontyev, a member of the USSR Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, sums up the experiment in the following words: “The special feature of this experiment lies in the fact that it creates conditions in which the key events of the process of formation of the personality, the actual coming into being of human consciousness becomes clearly visible, I would almost say tangible, and at the same time spread out as in a slow motion film. And these are events that open a window for us into the most secret depths of the nature of this process.”

And further Academician Leontyev writes: “Now there is no getting away from direct theoretical and philosophical conclusions. Now we have not a unique phenomenon but four splendid students. They are not 'Mozarts', but the natural results of the tremendous work directed for the past fifteen years by I. A. Sokolyansky's pupil A. I. Meshcheryakov. These young people have come to us from a boarding school where dozens of deaf-blind children have been put on the road to secondary education, so now one cannot speak of any sudden 'illuminations' or any special innate talent.”

Professor V. V. Davydov stressed that there was a solid foundation of philosophical argument underlying this unusual experiment: “The historians of our science, unfortunately tend to lose sight of the distinctly dialectical tradition of the theoretical description of the mind, the Ego, the soul, the Self, in the way that we find in Descartes, Spinoza and later Fichte. Without considering this tradition it is impossible to understand the modern method of cognising the mysteries of the 'soul'. And this method lies at the heart of all Meshcheryakov's works.”

But the main source of information about the problem of the experiment, its methods and their philosophical interpretation is, of course, to be found in Meshcheryakov's own book, Deaf-Blind Children. The Development of Mind in the Process of the Formation of Behaviour (Moscow, 1974).

Alexander Meshcheryakov directed an outstanding research project and made a notable contribution to the method of practical realisation of the truth of Marxist philosophy. The human being, as the subject of conscious, goal-oriented creative activity is formed in intercourse with other people, the modes of which develop historically and the means of which preserve in themselves the universal (social) determinates of all the objects of this activity. Meshcheryakov's experiment has provided practical proof that a human being only acquires the ability to think and have conscious knowledge of the world when the real historical time of the development of culture becomes his personal biography.

Meshcheryakov's book describes the life of the Zagorsk boarding school for children who have lost their sight and hearing in early childhood or who were born blind and deaf. “Such a child,” Meshcheryakov writes, “has not only never heard human speech. It does not even know of the existence of speech, of words that designate objects and thoughts. He does not even know that objects and the external world exist.” He continues: “Without special tuition deaf-blind may spend year after year in the corner of a room, in bed, or in some other place without ever learning any signs or symbols, or even how to walk, cat and drink in a human fashion.” And further: “The deaf-blind child may not even have a human posture until it is taught, it may not even be able to stand or sit like a human being.”

But these creatures that are “not even vegetables” do have brains and all their sense organs except sight and hearing. The book shows that all attempts to give such a child information about the world by means of a code designed for the remaining functioning sense organs were bound to fail. The words of the living language do not designate separate objects, they are not names permanently attached to certain objects. Sokolyansky and Meshcheryakov introduced their pupils to the language of real life by organising their intercourse in such a way that socially significant objects became the media of every movement a child made towards joint action together with other children or its teachers.

The most difficult thing was to separate the action and the external object of the action, to make the object something separate and independent from the action. Even the feeling movement of the hand had to become an object of attention, had to be identified and “evaluated” by the child who moved it. It is a point of fundamental interest that this was only possible when such a movement was organised by the teacher as a joint, common action. For example, the hands of the teacher and the pupil had to “find” , take hold of a spoon together, scoop up food together, and carry it to the mouth together. The spoon, the felt shape of it, then becomes a medium of intercourse, a means of contact between two people, its objective symbol. This common action is directed and controlled by a purposefully acting adult.

In this way the aim of the movement – satisfaction of hunger with the help of one's own actions (even if they are not yet entirely one's own) is instilled not by the pupil's bodily organisation, not by its “programmes” , but by the relationship to another person, the actual intercourse with him. Here it becomes quite clear that the mode of action is simultaneously a mode of intercourse; the means of intercourse is simultaneously a means of action and a means of communication, which means something for one person insofar as it means something for another. The movement of discovering and feeling the “medium” (in our example, the spoon) finds it externally because another person by his participation and correction of this joint action separates the action with the “medium” from the “medium” itself, thus turning it into an independently and separately existing object. And we are thus confronted by an elementary act of human mental reflection.

As we see, this act is nothing like the one that has been described, and is still being described, by the empiricists. It is not the action of the external object on the receptors, codified and transmitted to the brain, decoded there by a neurodynamic system and then presented in the form of a “mental image” by this system to what still remains a mysterious individual. The living organism finds an external object and by the action of its organs establishes the object's attributes as existing outside itself, repeating, as it were, reproducing them by its movements only because it has been drawn into intercourse, the mode of which separates action with the object from the object itself.

And here is yet another important conclusion that may be drawn from Meshcheryakov's experiment: the mental image is not a “trace” of external influence discovered by somebody (who?) in the brain, but an integral image of action (external, objective action) with the object of perception, action that is “disintegrated” thanks to the socially significant media of intercourse into action as such (my action) and the perceived object of this action (external object, its perceived image). Only in this case is it clear who perceives, experiences the image of the object. Naturally it is the person who separates his action with the object from the object as such, who can say: my action, my movement, my hand, my ear, and so on. And he perceives and experiences the object as something under his hand, as something outside him, as a perceived image of an external object, and not as a state of his nerves. Without human objective intercourse, without contact with the real time of the history of the development of forms of intercourse (its ways and means), the most elementary acts of mental reflection inherent in man as a member of the species Home sapiens are impossible.

This is where the inner dichotomy, the “dialogue” of objective action arises. To be more exact, it is a division into three: the relation to one's action as if from the side presupposes fixation of the action itself, its object, and this “side” from which the action and the object are fixed. In intercourse organising this “triple” structure of action all three elements are represented: the object of action, the person with whom I am acting in common, objectively presented to me as helper and critic, who assesses my actions, comparing them with his own (as with a socially significant pattern) and, finally, I myself, acting for him in the same role. Any action that I perform I can therefore evaluate as the action of “another person” and argue with myself as I would with him.

Addressing oneself with the help of socially significant means of intercourse is in fact “involvements in the given moment of universality embodied in them, it is the measuring and evaluation (measure!) of this instant by eternity. The measure by which the action I experience “here and now” is evaluated was born long ago at the dawn of history, and it developed, absorbing the expanding universe of human knowledge, was broken down and refined in the cultures of various epochs and peoples, and was born again as an integral measure – as meaning in the living language of my own living and acting people.

And now, whether my eye blinks or my fingers stir, if someone calls this a movement (that is, repeats it with words of the living language), the meaning of this name, its universal meaning, nourished by the past and oriented on the future, will be the human measure of that movement. But this “someone” need not be another person. It may equally well be me. Because in intercourse with other people I have constantly put myself in their place and determined my own actions and thoughts by the same measure.

The measure of human affairs.... In the infinitely small and in the epochal it is set by history itself. And only the history of humankind, of their culture, always, at any given moment embodied in the living intercourse of people alive today, in their affairs, in their language, in their poetry and knowledge, measures every given experience with itself, with its value. And this measure has no clearly defined limits, for it is oriented on the future. Therefore my Self is infinite.

No matter how limited it may be by the “specific” , particular modes of its functioning, nevertheless by constantly arguing with itself in a language which is a living embodiment of history and therefore of the unity and eternity of being, such a Self always experiences its involvement in eternity. And this experience, embodied in every elementary act of thought (or internal dialogue) is always realised as aesthetically productive imagination, as creativity.

In other words, if a person really thinks, he always thinks as a poet. Because to experience one's action as an action evaluated by a universal measure means at the same time becoming this measure, experiencing one's own state not as a “standing still” but as movement, as going beyond this action itself, as one's involvement in historical creation, as inspiration.

For this reason all the work of forming the consciousness of children can be realised only as development of their joint objective activity. And each of them, by becoming a thinking person aware of the world and himself, could speak the following monologue:

“ Now even in the most complex actions I am able to be my own critic mainly because the sum total of historically completed actions lives in me, objectively unfolded in the language of my people. Besides my friends and tutors, my teachers and professors, I have constant interlocutors, critics and helpers in those who throughout the centuries posed and solved the most serious and difficult riddles of existence, who in themselves, in their works personally experienced the problems of their time and argued with the time, and with me, a representative of another culture that is still the same, continuing culture of humankind. And I together with them, in disputation with them, take part (even if I discover only for myself) in the discovery of great ideas, ideals and evaluations. In myself I relive anew the clash of the notions of good and evil, beauty and happiness, truth and aim. They are born again in me and perhaps in some way they are new.... And now I myself on the basis of my own experience, assessing my own actions, know that thinking is not description, not the reproduction of that which is given in the imagination, of that what I find in the spatial field of experience. Thinking is my movement, the movement of my knowledge in time. And this movement in time is possible because the different voices of different times, peoples, epochs and cultures constantly come to life in my life. Teaching someone to think does, in fact, mean involving him in active, objective intercourse, bringing human history into his life, teaching him to feel, rejoice and suffer, to protest and admire, to know and thus to carry in himself a whole world in all its integrity as the known, conscious world of our life. This is the only way to awaken the doer and the critic, the craftsman and the artist in a person. So now my different Selves live even in my dreams, arguing with each other, assuming the shape of other people including people that have never existed in this world. They argue, imagine, act and even solve problems with which I and they wrestled during my waking hours. But sometimes, just because in a dream they are not restrained by the clear knowledge “That can't happen” , they are able to find something that really never did happen but that today I simply cannot do without” .

This monologue with perhaps just a few changes is to be found in Olga Skorokhodova's book, and in the reports of the four students of the psychological faculty of Moscow University, and in their poetry, in their letters and their accounts of their very difficult and yet truly human life.

Those who even today believe that the riddle of the Self can be solved by treating man as a machine that receives and processes information want simply to feed endless streams of information about the world into the ready-made body of the brain. In these pages I have tried to show that both in the theory and practice of the formation of the human personality things are far more complex. No, it is not a matter of feeding some electronic device complicated enough to resemble the human brain (or the brain itself) with a sufficient quantity of information which is then processed according to the most complex programmes. What has to be done is to guide the body that already possesses such a “device” into real intercourse and activity. This is the road to the making of the human Self, the Ego, all its attributes and particularly its intellect. For intellect is determined by the content of historically developing human culture and not the rapidity of the algorithmised computing of the possible answers to a pre-formulated problem.

Philosophical analysis is needed to understand man as a being who in every integral moment of his life realises the integrality of infinite and eternal nature. Man becomes such a potentially infinite being not because he “absorbs all the contents of all the libraries” , not because an endless stream of information about separate attributes of nature are recorded on the “tape” of his memory, but because in the values he creates, in the universal forms of knowledge, good and beauty, he reproduces the objective logic of nature developing according to its laws. To understand this is to understand the dialectical identity of the social (universal) and individual (specific) modes of human life-activity that comes about in living human intercourse.

It was this understanding, substantiated for the first time by Marxism, that became the theoretical foundation of the practical work of those who solved the riddle of the Self and breathed a soul into a living body that had been robbed of consciousness.

1. All these propositions are, of course, an extreme but therefore particularly significant instance of consistent application of the logic of mechanical, spatial interaction (unlike Wooldridge's, absolutely devoid of reflection) in defining man and his consciousness. The Cartesian God, Kant's third antinomy, the eternal agonising problems of Dostoyevsky, all the two thousand years of man's efforts to know himself are here brushed aside quite happily and thoughtlessly. You're an automaton with a programme and don't you expect any freedom!

2. More than three hundred years have passed since Descartes wrote his Les passions de l'âme (The Passions of the Soul). How interesting to see the logic of the mechanical system winning supporters regardless of the passage of time and the advances in human knowledge! One has only to compare the mechanistic explanations of mental phenomena given by Descartes with N. M. Amosov's attempts to explain them in terms of cybernetics.

3. Etienne Bonnot de Condillac (1715-1780). French sensationalist philosopher. in his famous Traité des sensations (Treatise on Sensations) he tried to prove that it would be enough to provide a statue with the five senses for it to be able to develop powers of judgement (i.e., consciousness) by storing and comparing the impressions from each sense.

4. Admittedly, greater renown has been accorded to the late Helen Keller, the pupil of Anne Sullivan. Whole libraries of specialised and popular literature have been written about her life and education. W. Gibson's play The Miracle-Worker ran successfully at several theatres in the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, less publicity has been given to the life of Marie Heurtiu, whose education was described by L. Arnuld in his Les times en prison (Imprisoned Souls) in 1948. The story of Helen Keller's development and life, and also the earlier experience of Samuel Howe's teaching of Laura Bridgman, who was blind and deaf from the age of two, are thoroughly analysed and shown in a new light by the psychologist A. M. Meshcheryakov in his book Deaf-Blind Children (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979).