The Metaphysics of Caitlyn and Planned Parenthood

I had a very of-the-moment experience the other night at bedtime in my hotel room. After reading about the unmitigated horror of Planned Parenthood’s customized cannibalizing of fetal body parts, I toggled over to the ESPN site to watch the propaganda video the network made to set up its awarding Caitlyn Jenner its Arthur Ashe Courage Prize.

I encourage you to watch the clip, which is about 13 minutes long. It is a remarkable piece of work, and profoundly indicative of the deepest metaphysical assumptions of Western culture today. Jenner’s heroism, according to the film, consists in his dramatic refusal of Nature — of imposing his own will and desires on nature so profoundly that he repudiates his own nature as a male. Jenner retains his male genitalia, and, of course, maleness in his genes. In other words, everything about Jenner’s material existence (that is, his existence in his body) is male. But Jenner thinks of himself as female, and presents himself publicly as a female. He believes that what he wishes to believe about himself is who he really is, in terms of his gender. And our culture has decided that someone who wishes to assert that he or she is actually of the opposite gender than his or her body, that not only is that person conforming to the Truth — courageously, against the opposition of tradition, religion, society, and so forth — but that courage in part consists of that very willingness to impose one’s will on Nature, to make it serve our desires.

If you watch the Jenner video, he/she keeps saying things like, “This is who I am” and “I had to be who I really am.” I’m not making fun of this; clearly Jenner believes this quite deeply. The images in the video in which s/he is presented as a lone conquering hero are crushingly sad; Jenner comes across as a defaced person lost in the desert, someone who thinks s/he is free, but who doesn’t seem free at all. The culture now seems to have accepted as self-evidently true that one’s gender is whatever one wants it to be. To assert this implies a metaphysical view that is radically at odds with classical (including Christian) metaphysics, which holds that nature is not mere stuff that we can fashion as we like, and impose our own meaning onto it, but rather that nature in some mysterious way reflects things as they actually are.

In the new edition of the (unfailingly excellent) Mars Hill Audio Journal, Ken Myers interviews philosopher Roger Scruton, who talks about the implicit atheism of contemporary culture, and how we are “defacing” Nature by denying — whether we realize it or not — that there is intrinsic, metaphysical meaning in matter. Driving home from the airport last night, listening to the Journal, a line from Scruton jumped out at me:

“As soon as we begin to understand how the human person, as it were, defines himself apart from the natural order, till we do that, we won’t begin to see exactly where the limits of scientific investigation lie.”

(Read more from “The Metaphysics of Caitlyn and Planned Parenthood” HERE)

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