April 1, 2018

THE NEW INSTRUMENT OF GNOSTICISM:  A review of When Harry Became Sally by Ryan T. Anderson.

The Princeton philosopher Robert George, notes Anderson, “detects the scent of ancient Gnosticism” in transgender ideology. The Gnostic mystery cults of the early Roman empire saw an essential schism between humanity’s spirit and the material cosmos; the world is corrupt, flesh is wrong, but knowledge and the will can free us from our imprisonment in it. The comparison is a good one, but as Anderson observes, only up to a point. There’s a tension to it: “On the one hand, they claim that the real self is something other than the physical body, in a new form of Gnostic dualism, yet at the same time they embrace a materialist philosophy in which only the material world exists. They say that gender is purely a social construct, while asserting that a person can be ‘trapped’ in the wrong body.” So, in our creatorless and spiritless cosmos we find a comparison of transgenderism to ancient Gnosticism is inexact. But gnosticism has other forms, and transgender rhetoric’s power comes from its participation in a less doctrinal gnosticism, technological modernity’s response to nihilism.

What part of the left isn’t a form of modern-day gnosticism?