Blurred Lines: A Critique of Trans-Everything-Ism [Part 2 of 3]

bodies[Continued from Pt. 1] 

The Body, Gender, and “Race”

Because there were no absolutes for the postmodernist philosophers, everything was up for grabs. This included the body. The body was, in its essentially material status, without definition, amorphous. To be sure, there were biological distinctions to be made, but these distinctions, like every other distinction, were also not absolute. Defining a male or a female was equivalent to exerting institutional/ideological power over them illegitimately. As mentioned above, the individual could, therefore, legitimately protest any definition of himself that he did not desire. As philosopher Douglas Groothuis notes in his article The Philosophy of Gender:

The philosophy that undergirds and animates this redefinition of gender is anti-essentialist and constructivist. Humans as male and female have no objective nature, qua gender. Gender is only a placeholder for the will of the identifier, who chooses gender not on the basis of anything stable or trustworthy, but only through erotic eccentricity. One constructs a gender identity, but without the aid of a blueprint. What one constructs, one can deconstruct—whimsy without end.[7]

Hence, transgenderism is being promoted in popular culture as one of the newest vistas of human freedom regarding the human body and gender.

Yet the body as racially/ethnically or, more broadly, sociologically determined was an idea that was also promulgated by postmodernist philosophers. After all, if the subject is a contingent, historically constructed phenomenon[8] his epistemology and ethics must likewise be determined. Ethnically diverse groups will have respectively diverse epistemologies and moralities. This is why identifying “Reason” as a “white male construct” is something that postmodernists have done for decades, although it is only now coming into the view of non-academics.[9] The body is malleable, fluid, amorphous in its essentially material state, but the changes it may undergo exist within a set of equally malleable constraints. Postmodernist philosophers criticized traditional notions of the subject, rationality, will, intellect, gender, etc with various anti-essentialist philosophical tools.

Among the more popular tools of the postmodernist philosopher were Marxism and Freudianism. While these schools of thought were originally foundationalist models of, respectively, universally recognizable socio-economic and individual-psychological realities, in the hands of postmodern relativists, they became subordinate to the philosopher wielding them. Marxism’s conception of the mind as the byproduct of socio-economic preconditions was found to be a useful tool against rationalism’s claim to innate knowledge of universal truths, as well as empiricism’s claim to a universal world of sensorial preconditions requisite to the formation of the mind. Similarly, Freudianism’s conception of real self-hood as residing beneath the appearances of “everyday” slips of the tongue, figures of speech, dreams, choices of metaphor, etc and not in the explicit propositional representations of one’s innermost thoughts, was found to be useful in attacking claims of communicative transparency and fidelity to universal ethical standards in the socius, in the family, in interpersonal exchanges, etc.

Philosophers have, by and large, moved past these criticisms of reason, ethics, and psychology,[10] but the spectres of postmodern conceptions of sociological (read: racial, gender, economic, political, ad nauseum) identity have been perpetuated by popular culture’s representation of “race” and “class” as determinative of individual identity, ethical commitments, and intellectual ability. Likewise, many outspoken individuals operate on the assumption that what a society and its inhabitants really believe about themselves and one another resides below the surface, behind the quotidian activities that are onlyapparently universal (e.g. child rearing, love, personal conflict, aspirations to succeed in one’s profession, and so on).

Sadly, those who are not familiar with the underlying philosophical assumptions at work in the concepts of “white privilege” and “internalized racism” tend to believe that these concepts have been founded upon some substantial scientific basis. The fact of the matter is that these ideas are derived from the assumptions of (i.)materialistic monism, (ii.)a Freudian subject whose outward expressions are meant to conceal and inward conflict betweenraw animalistic desire for sex or food or pure power over other animals and persons, and (iii.)economic epistemological, ethical, and intersubjective determinism (i.e. Marxism).

[As an aside: There are certainly instances of “racism” (i.e. sinful abuse of fellow bearers of God’s iimage, based upon nothing more than color or language or social custom), but these are recognizable as such because they are instantiations of what God’s law forbids. Assuming to know that the real person is what lies beneath the mirage/appearance of words he expresses in discourse with you is not only an assumption based in bad philosophy and logical fallacies, but ultimately reduces to skepticism. More importantly than this, however, is the fact that God commands his people to love one another, and this involves not assuming the worst of another individual, although always remaining open to it in principle.

The concepts of “white privilege” and “internalized racism” do not give fellow bearers of God’s image the benefit of a doubt when analyzing their representation of themselves. Paul explains that love is patient, kind, bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things. The concepts of “white privilege” and “internalized racism” are not, therefore, examples of loving behavior toward one’s neighbor.]

-h.

[Continued in Pt. 3]


[7] http://douglasgroothuis.com/2015/07/02/the-philosophy-of-gender.

[8] I mean this in the Kantian sense of the word phenomenon.

[9] See Neff, Blake. “Professor: Reason Itself is a White Male Construct,” The Daily Caller,http://dailycaller.com/2015/07/03/professor-reason-itself-is-a-white-male-construct/; Yancey, George and John D. Caputo, “Looking ‘White’ In The Face,” The New York Times,http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/02/looking-white-in-the-face/?_r=0.

[10] See Kirby, Alan. “The Death of Postmodernism And Beyond,” in Philosophy Now 58 (November/December, 2006), 34–37.

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3 thoughts on “Blurred Lines: A Critique of Trans-Everything-Ism [Part 2 of 3]

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