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In politics, compromise and consensus may have to suffice, but in academia, it is absurd to let consensus, identity politics, subjective self-reference, or anything else supersede truth…

A prominent professor of linguistics publically taught the party line on gender pronouns. It is not necessary to name the semi-famous professor because even though it is absurd, most who consider themselves “educated” would agree with her. She said “normally we used to use he, she, and they, but now there are alternatives because of gender ambiguities and many folks do not fit into the binary scheme of male and female. So, for the sake of inclusivity, we ought to call people by the pronouns they desire.” Remember, the context here is linguistics in the university.

In politics, compromise and consensus may have to suffice, but in academia, it is absurd to let consensus, identity politics, subjective self-reference, or anything else supersede truth. The idea that we should call someone by the pronoun they desire rather than the pronoun they actually are is absurd and the one place we shouldn’t cater to this absurdity is in the university. Unfortunately, the modern university is the birth place of such absurdities and many more besides. This blatant attack on nature and reality fades into one of countless similar soundbites comprising the new cultural white noise by which we are lulled into an intellectual stupor.

We are still in the West even if this is our twilight. There are still scattered vestiges and dispersed remnants of the bold tradition we once proudly called Western Civilization. As our tradition is attacked and erodes under the constant ideological onslaught, we see our schools no longer require Western Civilization as a course of study. The multi-cultural revisions taking its place malign and denigrate our noble yet admittedly scarred history. A point worth noting is that in our tradition where Athens and Jerusalem meet, until very recently, the proper end of our education was always truth. Not subjective truth, not empirical truth, but truth in accord with the objective standard knowable first by our senses, and then by the gift of intellect held up to the standard of the natural law evident in the created order and written on our hearts.

In the West, we used to know that our outer senses, barring defect, hold out the capacity to perceive what is truly there, not exhaustively, but in essence. We used to know that our four inner senses possess the competence to prepare the data of experience for proper treatment by the spiritual activity we once knew as intellection. The English philosophers collapsed the distinction between perception and conception many centuries ago and the results have been material fruitfulness and intellectual barrenness. The modern university has become an intellectual and moral wasteland. A small but telling example can be illustrated by the new “standard” use of pronouns sweeping traditional and accurate conventions off their axis and askew from their correspondence to reality. We will see in the new stand that it is indeed inclusive, but of what?

The modern university, the modern school, the mass media and too many other outlets to name have abused speech for so long that Orwellian doublespeak seems preferable. Utterly false notions of the human person and human learning have profoundly impacted modern language usage. A modern university ideologue and a true man of the West can now say the exact same words and mean two completely different things. The two might say, “education is a good thing,” or “it is important to be inclusive,” or “diversity is the spice of life,” but clearly these notions point to diametrically opposed premises and conclusions for each. The two equivocate on the definitions of “education,” “inclusivity,” and “diversity.” These words used by the modern “scholar” have been divorced from their traditional meanings and point to territory unchartered by previous generations.

In his work Topics book 2, 101a, 15-21, Aristotle suggests that when it comes to calling things what they are we should “determine what kinds of things should be called what most men call them and what should not.” The Philosopher goes on to say that in principle, “we ought to use our words to mean the same things as most people mean by them.” And of course, we ought to for the sake of clarity in speech, but he goes on to teach; “when we ask what kinds of things are or are not of such and such a kind, we should not here go with the multitude.” And indeed, to go with the multitude on the new gender pronouns is madness. Aristotle’s example is “it is right to call healthy whatever tends to produce health, as do most men; but in saying whether the object before us tends to produce health or not, we should adopt the language no longer of the multitude but of the doctor.” If we apply Aristotle’s teachings to the present situation, clarity of the absurdity arises.

We might say that in our common speech we ought to use the word meanings of the “educated, i.e. multitude” except where they diverge from reality. In this case, we ought to use the words of the perennial philosophers to make clear what is signified by the words themselves. In the case of gender inclusive language, the divergence is stark. We had always used the pronoun “he” to refer to a male and “she” to refer to a female. Fifty years ago, this was an artifact of common sense and common usage. Today, it is no longer permissible to refer to a girl as “she” and a boy as “he” if they do not so desire because the modern mind molders claim that a person’s “gender” is a personal and subjective decision. This innovative divergence of the multitude is actually an offense against nature and reality. They would claim otherwise. To call a male “he” and a female “she” based on DNA is now a contradiction to gender ideologues who believe it is an offense to individual and civil rights.

The philosophers know that the sex of a human person is an essential accident of birth, an artifact of the substantial form of the human person. The body of that person is not separate from the substantial form but emanates from it and is a composite integrated whole. In fact, the body is the manifestation of its formal cause, its very animating principle; the spirited soul. The substantial form not only informs every aspect of the body, but is 100% present in each divisible part of the body. Being male or female, a he or a she, in truth, in representation and in reality, is not a thing over which humans have a choice. Therefore, to call a he a she, or a she a he, or to invent a multitude of nonexistent other gender pronouns that have no correspondence to reality is intellectually and morally irresponsible.

The notion that we ought to refer to someone as they desire to be called may be a modern demand of social convention and polite conversation where the highest ideal is to not offend. However, we ought never to do this in a university, a college or a school because by definition these are places that must hold truth as the highest value. The inclusion of truth ought to be in every aspect of a school’s being, its expressions and its mores.

The very trends of gender ideology leading to “new rules” for pronouns for the sake of inclusivity is absurd. How you ask? A statement is absurd if it denies implicitly what it affirms explicitly. So, we must ask the popular professor “if it is inclusive to call someone by the pronoun they desire, even if that pronoun has no correspondence to reality, in what manner is this inclusive?” Her statement explicitly asserts inclusivity as a high value, but it implicitly denies inclusivity. Let’s examine how. But first have a look at this list taken from the LGBT resource center at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

By the above list, the professor would explicitly claim we are including many different genders. So while she is explicitly affirming the inclusivity of a multitude of non-existent genders, she is implicitly denying inclusivity to those who believe that human persons are exclusively created male and female. What the professor calls inclusivity is not inclusive in a substantial way, but actually excludes those who reject the false theory of innumerable genders.

One who knows, as the philosophers do, that human persons are made exclusively male or female, barring defect, is excluded and even ostracized because he cannot participate in the unreality of the new and multiplying gender pronouns. Of course, by calling someone by a pronoun that does not correspond to his ontological reality, we are including in our statements an untruth and excluding the truth. We are affirming explicitly an unreality on the grounds that it is a desired reality and implicitly denying the objective reality. Because of the exaggerated weight given to subjective opinion over objective reality, we are now being coerced to call a person a thing he is not because that person feels like you should. If you object on the grounds that you would prefer to adhere to scientific, philosophical and moral truth, you are to be excluded.

It is no small irony that although the university is the one place we should never propagate a falsehood, it is the seething cauldron of a multiplicity of falsehoods concerning the nature of the human person, human learning and authentic human rights. A multitude of wholly invented and false pronouns for what God made male and female is irrational—and to include irrationality, we have to exclude truth. In an authentic university, truth is the one thing that ought to never be excluded.

However, here we are, at the dawn of a “brave” new world that excludes truth and includes everything else. This is not a university but a multiversity incapable of imparting anything approximating an authentic education. The pronouns are the tip of the iceberg and one of the more visible disordered vagaries propagated by the swindlers in the ivory towers. Will we continue to stand idly by and watch this once great civilization decay into intellectual and moral rubble one “inclusive” lie after another? Wake up men of the West, recover the manly virtue required to speak the truth—gently, quietly, if you will… or even silently to yourself if you must.

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Published: Feb 5, 2018
Author
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative and holds a degree in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A school teacher, he is also a writer and speaker on matters of faith, culture, and education. Mr. Rummelsburg is a member of the Teacher Advisory Board and writer of curriculum at the Sophia Institute for Teachers, a contributor to the Integrated Catholic Life, Crisis Magazine, The Civilized Reader, The Standard Bearers, Catholic Exchange, and a founding member of the Brinklings Literary Club.
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13 replies to this post
  1. Enjoyed this article. Another type of contradiction is also at work – we are to include different genders, but since there are no objective traits that differentiate one gender from another, outside of personal choice, we are not actually including many ‘different’ things, because these things are not fundamentally different. In the same way, we argue that including women as well as men in the workplace is extremely beneficial even while arguing that there is no difference in the skill sets, perspectives, or preferences of men and women – if the latter is true, why should it make a difference whether businesses expand to include female perspectives? And again: we number tolerance among the virtues, but also implement “zero tolerance” policies for certain behaviors. Truth is certainly not in charge here; one must wonder what confused motivation is at work to produce such strange (and yet strong) modern convictions.

    • Lauren,

      You are quite right! We discover lunacy if we take a moment to notice all the contradictory statements by the intolerant promoters of tolerance, the multiple gender theories of gender equality activists and really every other modern ideology promoted in the name of “fairness.” Intellectual honesty is conspicuously absent from the conversation in the public square, in fact the conversation is not a conversation but a legion of monologues where dissent from the contradictory/schizophrenic party line is grounds to destroy you.

  2. Congratulations on surviving the UC system with your intellect and reasoning intact.
    As a biologist, I am well aware of the two genders as well as the unfortunate reality that there are many, indeed a spectrum, of endocrine and other anomalies affecting individuals. Regardless, there are only two genders.
    If someone feels/decides etc. that they are something else and as a result they wish to be referred to as something else, just how am I supposed to know a priori what that might be? Perhaps wearing a sign about their neck? N.B.: Note the clever use of a non-gendered pronoun.
    I don’t intend to offend anyone, however, concern for such does not keep me awake at night.

    • Robert, I appreciate the kind words, but I didn’t enter the UC system with a cultivated intellect or in tact reasoning, and believe me, they did nothing to help that process along. But the beach town Isla Vista, literally right on the beach was amazing for one in an intellectual coma and I was able to prioritize surfing above all else which I think protected me from many things I might have otherwise absorbed. I made it through less indoctrinated than many, but also intellectually impoverished. In today’s “education” one will have to acquire literacy and thinking skills, if “they” do at all, on their own after such times as “they” have forgotten the dreadful lessons of the modern school. As a biologist maybe you can tell me, is “gender” even the word we ought to use in place of “sex?” The claim is that biological sex is what you are born and “gender” is what you choose to be from your head. Is this even conceivable by the biologists? BTW, I followed your lead with the neutral pronouns because I don’t want to offend anyone either.

  3. Very good insights as to the dilemma we face not only in our Colleges and Universities, but also in daily life. I remember back in the early 1990s when friends of mine were doing illustrations for children’s books and they commented to me that the publishers, not the authors of the books, wanted the illustrations to be as androgynous as possible. The publishers did not want the children to identify with the characters as boys and girls, but just as characters that could be either gender without being specifically drawn as boys and girls. It was very strange back then, but seems to fit in with the agenda being pushed these days to confuse gender roles.
    I have seen a couple of other articles discussing the pronoun issue, with one specifically pointing to how in Mandarin Chinese “ta” is used as the gender neutral pronoun for anyone. It seems that perhaps so of the agenda being pushed for by Colleges and Universities may be coming from the Mandarin language.
    One article stated, “What’s really fascinating about this is that once children are raised to speak a language that lacks gender pronouns, as adults they can rarely speak correctly with such pronouns.”
    It seems that we are all being groomed for living in an androgynous world where gender is obsolete. I suppose the Soviet use of comrade was a similar way for them to do away with gender specific pronouns as well, and we all know how well that has worked for the USSR (aka Russia).
    Maybe there is still some hope for the West and Western Civilization will experience a revival instead of a collapse.

    • The human effort to eradicate “sex” is weak. Defying reality is weak, even if everyone is doing it. C.S. Lewis said this subjectivism would end our civilization. I agree with him. If there is a revival, and I hope their is, it will only follow a recovery of common sense and a rejection of ideology flowing out of gnosticism, idealism, skepticism and scientism, all constituent parts fo subjectivism and relativism. If we don’t sort this out first, no recovery is possible.

      • If Classical music was able to survive the 20th Century, then perhaps Classical education can as well. I understand that there is a resurgence in the demand for Classical education, so as we have struggled, so may we persevere. Substance will always prevail over the nothingness that has been provided us by progressive ideologies. Humans always seek to find that which can sustain them in this life, and those progressive ideologies offer nothing but emptiness.

  4. It’s not our job to explain to crazy and malice driven people why they are wrong. Our only job is to tell them they have no business telling us what to do, and if they don’t like it, then that’s their problem, not ours.

    • I would agree with you Eric, but I am trying to explain this to children, students, family and friends who have been increasingly bombarded with this insanity to the extent that otherwise good souls are taken in by this ideology and would defend it on the grounds of unknowing. I don’t know that we still have the luxury of telling them they have no business trying to ram this down our throats, it is becoming a pretty common place thing.

      • The only way you win with such people is to stand firm. The best example I can think of (in politics) is the NRA, of which I was a member for a number of years. And the way they won was 1) They had no delusion that their opponents were “Nice Guys” who could be reasoned with, and 2) They didn’t back down an inch, ever.

      • I would also add that, if our side doesn’t take a stand and SOON, it will only get worse because the other side will only see us as spineless and weak.

        Indeed, it’s not to much of a stretch to imagine a future where a teacher can get into trouble for teaching that 2 + 2 = 4 on the basis of “How dare you impose your values on someone else!”

  5. Leftists and more liberal than your average liberals bitterly complain about grammar rules and punctuation marks being constructed by “dead white men” (true story: one of my linguistic (female, white) professors did such a thing). Well, if I can borrow a page from their book I’ll be complaining about these new gender pronouns in the near future made by the LGBT+ community and their advocates – many who do not hold a candle to those who have built and sustained Western civilization.

  6. All this “gender” nonsense! A word that might have been discarded as unnecessary and confusing has been inflated by pretentiousness, a condition endemic in today’s media.

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