The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution

Carl Trueman. Crossway, $34.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-4335-5633-3
Trueman (The Creedal Imperative), an Orthodox Presbyterian minister and religious studies professor at Grove City College, delivers a sweeping, preachy condemnation of modern conceptions of the self, with particular emphasis on new understandings of gender, sex, and sexuality. Trueman uses theoretical frameworks developed by 20th-century sociologist Philip Rieff and contemporary philosophers Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre to argue that late-20th-century changes in the Christian West’s expectations around human gender and sexuality were driven by “ethical subjectivism” and “anarchic emotive morality.” Trueman traces the changes he deplores back to Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche, whose “assaults on any static or transcendent notion of human nature” have defined Western conceptions of the self. He then turns a sharply critical eye to the work of Sigmund Freud, who, the author believes, made “sex the central element in what it means to be human.” In the final section, Trueman’s argument against the influence of LGBTQ people on society—such as that recognition of a broader range of human gender identities and sexual desires will lead to cultural acceptance of pedophilia and incest—will undoubtedly offend. While deeply researched and meticulously explained, this polemic will only appeal to readers who already agree with Trueman. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/18/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Religion
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