Friday, September 19, 2008

Creating Ourselves

As a philosophy student at the University of Louvain, I learned a great deal about secular existentialism and what it represented in terms of the history of ideas: as Sarte put it, the logical consequence of atheism--the final taking of our individual destinies into our individual hands; the ultimate removal of all traces of the en soi, of all "givens" in life, so that all that is left is the Will. The Will then becomes like a mathematical point, a singularity of self-identity, empty of content, around which the isolated, atomistic individual creates himself, as if every soul were a hacked game of "Sim City" where every player had infinite money.

It is this existentialism which, I believe, is at the heart of movements pushing for human cloning, genetic engineering, and yes, gay marriage. It is also at the heart of the transgendered movement. To treat something that is older and larger than ourselves, something that belongs to the order of nature itself, as if it were always a human invention that, anyway, we can do better, is exactly the self-divinization that I denounced when I created the Internet moniker, "NotSelfCreated."

And that is what irritates me most about the increasing number of developments like this one. The hailed interpreters of the law--the law, which ought to be a source of stability in any nation, not the source of change--are wittlessly rewriting creation itself. That a manufactured gender should be legally, officially interpreted as being on an identical level as the gender arising from the unaided processes of creation is both the ultimate hubris and a deception that will not be without consequences (as Jeff Goldblum's character said in "Jurassic Park", "Nature always finds a way"). If judges had the least bit of philosophical awareness, they would understand that a surgically altered man-into-woman is far more analagous to someone covered in tattoos, or with an amputation addiction, than a bona fide woman. And while the first two would certainly be grounds for legally sanctioned discrimination, the judges have chosen to drink the Cool-Aid of modern existentialism, and effectively legislate from the bench that gender is a human technology.

To end with another quote from the same character from the same film: "The lack of humility before nature that's being displayed here, uh... staggers me. "

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