Some Personal Thoughts on the Contradiction of Progressive Ideas Today
The Contradictions of Contemporary Ideology
One of the many phenomena that has confounded me about ideas in society today is that contemporary progressive thought is essentially at war with itself. It is somehow a union of scientific Darwinian Determinism and an Existentialist expression of pure subjective will at the same time. For a while I struggled to figure out how the same people could hold the belief that humans are just the products of the deterministic evolutionary process, and therefore just animals, while at the same time holding to the ideas of the LGBT movement, namely that your identity is subjectively determined by your free choice about who you are. The two ideas couldn't be further from one another, as one implies we have no free will, and the other implies that our free will is so strong that we can change reality with it.
Splitting Up the Human Person
And yet, when you take a look at the history of philosophy of the last 400 years, it becomes apparent how we have reached this end state. With the birth of Modern Philosophy there was a split between the two fundamental dichotomies of the human experience. There was a hard division between the body and the mind, between Empiricism and Rationalism, between the pursuit of truth in the hard sciences and the pursuit of truth through the structures of the mind. When these two dimensions of the human person are divided from one another, they lead to logical conclusions which couldn't be farther from one another, yet we see in society today they coexist in the same Progressive ideology.
Let's unpack this a bit further. When Descartes set into motion the Rationalist school of philosophy, he also introduced the fundamental premise that reason and reality are disconnected from one another. Thus, the pursuit of reason was relegated to the realm of the subjectivity of the mind, exploring its structures and trying to overcome the problem of returning back in touch with the world. This also induced an error in the Empiricist school, which was focused on the use of the senses in the exploration of the physical world. The error was that reason was useless in discerning or pursuing metaphysical truths about nature.
And thus, the pursuit of truth which was once a unified pursuit of both the objective world and our subjective understanding of it, has now been split apart and divided with an intractable barrier placed between their reconciliation. With this barrier in place, and the body and mind split from one another, Empiricism and Rationalism took their own paths of growth. Empiricism (again, influenced by the metaphysical doubts of Rationalism) becomes Naturalism in the 19th century. Naturalism being the ideology that nothing exists except that which can be known physically with scientific testing and experiment. Hence we have reached the logical conclusion today that we are just physical creatures; animals evolved from Darwinian evolution. Thus, by definition, we couldn't have free will because we are just a body, and bodies follow physical laws.
Yet, on the other hand, Rationalism, due to its false foundations which I've talked more about here, morphs into a full on skepticism of reality and truth altogether. Through all its successions of thinkers, it really ends up back at the place where it started. The only truth that can be known is that "one is a thinking thing." I am my subjectivity. If that is the first and fundamental metaphysical truth, then subjectivity is more real than the physical world. Thus, if I am a man and I proclaim that I am a woman, then I am a woman, or vice versa.
Modern Day Dualism
And so, the sharp division between the mind and body has created a new type of "dualism" in today's culture. We are deterministic animals on the one hand, yet we are "gods" on the other who have the power over reality if we so desire it. Hence the popular phrase going around of "my truth" and "your truth." Hence the destroying the bodies of children because of parent's projected belief that their child is "in the wrong body," and the belief that my subjective experience and my physical body are at odds with one another.
The warring nature of the ideas that we have been left with should be a sign to us that we have gone astray. We need to return to the foundations and reexamine the philosophies upon which contemporary culture is based upon because our society is clearly sick. It is as sick as one might expect it be since we have chosen to divide up the body and mind from one another. What we need to return to is what Pope John Paul II called an "adequate anthropology," one that restores man back to his unity of mind and body. For more on this you can see an older post I did here and here.