The emergent “science” of transgenderism and related philosophies of gender propose a full-scale inversion of the understanding of God, man, and the created order articulated in classical metaphysics, undermining and parodying both the causality and ontology voiced by Genesis 1:27 (“God created man in His own image, . . . male and female He created them”). Whether through subversive performative identity or by surgical sex change, the divinely made human person is now threatened with abolition and replacement by the self-made man and the man-made woman.
In Metaphysics and Gender, Michele M. Schumacher offers a corrective to this distorted and distorting outlook, calling for the recovery of an anthropological vision rooted in recognition of the normative divine “art” of nature and of the likeness—and far greater unlikeness—between divine and human causality. Surveying contemporary transgender trends, Schumacher identifies and excavates their conceptual and ideological foundations in the gender theory of Judith Butler, the existentialist feminism of Simone de Beauvoir, and the atheistic existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre. To the erroneous philosophical presuppositions of these thinkers Schumacher contrasts the metaphysically grounded thought of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, advancing their positive account of the good of creation and of the meaning of ethical norms, human freedom and natural inclinations, and embodiment, and mounting a timely and trenchant defense of the divinely created human person.
Michele M. Schumacher, S.T.D., Habil., is a private docent in the faculty of theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. In addition to numerous articles on sexual ethics and on women, she is the author of A Trinitarian Anthropology: Adrienne von Speyr and Hans Urs von Balthasar in Dialogue with St. Thomas Aquinas (Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2014) and God Acting in Man: Founding Human Freedom in Aquinas’s Natural Desire to See God Doctrine (forthcoming). She is also the editor of and a contributor to Women in Christ: Towards a New Feminism (Cambridge, UK / Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004).
“In this masterful analysis, Schumacher shows the gender theory framework to be a complete inversion of the longstanding tradition of metaphysical realism. She traces the philosophical roots of this inversion to Sartre’s atheistic existentialism, which reverses the realist claim that essence precedes existence. This reversal prompts a cascade of reversals that leaves nothing unaltered: ethics, language, art, medicine—even the very contours of what it means to be human. In this upside-down world, culture supplants nature; gender dethrones sex; creature becomes Creator; and human freedom is uprooted from any enduring good. Our culture needs a substantive, scholarly account of what’s at stake in this great undoing and how to regain our footing. This is precisely what Schumacher provides.”
University of Notre Dame
“Michele Schumacher provides a tour de force, reading carefully both the philosophia perennis and its foes and calling out the substitution of nature by human artifice in the latter. But not content with critique, she also paints a portrait of the goodness of created nature, a goodness that extends down to our sex. She brings into view the divine Artist who lovingly fashions us in his image and calls us to the perfection of that image through our wise knowing and acting.”
St. John’s Seminary
“In a culture that has lost its bearings on sex and gender identity, Schumacher attempts to restore some sorely needed sanity by drawing us back to the ground of sexual difference and of gender identity that tracks this difference: that of the order of being, of reality, of metaphysics. With this as the foundation, Schumacher deftly points out how nature, biology, teleology, and human knowledge of a created world order emerge as the normative frame for any proper understanding of sex and gender, as well as art and ethics. Schumacher has provided a great service in writing this work; the insights she offers are profound and philosophically rich. Here Schumacher sets the record straight on the notion of gender. I highly recommend this work.”
“Everyone is talking about sex these days, but you can’t do it intelligibly without talking about the nature of fundamental reality—metaphysics. Metaphysics and Gender is a penetrating analysis of the atheistic existentialism of self-creation at the heart of gender ideology with roots in John Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Judith Butler. In response, Michele Schumacher proposes a traditional Aristotelian-Thomistic understanding of nature as God’s creation, and of our natures, our bodies, our identities, and our fulfillments as grounded in the fullness of our being.”
Ryan T. Anderson,
President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center
“This book is the fruit of over twenty years of reflection as a wife, mother, and theologian by one of the most creative and independent thinkers in theology today.”
Michael Sherwin, O.P.
University of Fribourg, Switzerland
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