The next evolution in personhood
The concept of the individual continues to change over time, although few would notice or really care, since it is such a slow process.
A simple analysis can be described this way. In pre-modern times, people had a soul. In modern times, they have a "self." In pre-modern times, people had character. In modern times, they have a personality. And lastly, in pre-modern times, the individual had spirituality. In modern times, spirituality has been replaced by psychology.
The conclusion that can be drawn from this analysis is that the definition of an individual when put into historical context is not a static thing, but fluid. This presents a paradox and a conundrum as we move into an era of postmodernism, one that arrived with the triumph of relativism, deconstruction, and the subjectivization of just about everything – i.e., fixed definitions are out, and personal interpretation is in. The end result, which has been a long time in coming, is the death of Truth, in which all timeless principles have completely broken down. This is the primary and really only explanation for the political, cultural, and social polarization of today.
So if the definition of what it means to be a human changes over long periods of time, what comes next? The answer appears to be in the transhuman movement that includes transgenderism, which grew out of the left's identity politics and the sexual revolution of the sixties. The paradox and irony are that this movement is leading to the total destruction of individual identity and individualism itself. It is the final goal and endpoint of literally leveling the playing field in the left's quest for equality and social justice.
A recent commentary succinctly describes what drives the leftist agenda in their transformation of humanity and how they rely on the federal government to lead the way in the next historical stage of personhood: "Why Progressivism and Religion Don't Go Together."
Leftists want government to do the work of God – transform human beings into perfect creatures. Religion itself – and indeed any dependence on a Creator – is a direct contradiction to the progressive conception of man as changeable and perfectible. In short, progressivism and religion – understood as a fundamental reliance on God rather than on oneself or on other men – are inherently incompatible. Where progressivism asserts that properly ordered government can and should transform man into a perfect being who lives in a man-made utopia, religion insists that God, not government, is responsible for changing men's hearts[.]
There are so many stories coming out these days validating this that it's hard to keep up with – ranging from Oregon and Washington, D.C. allowing for a third gender designation on driver's licenses (here and here), a mother not identifying a gender for her baby at birth (here), and what may be the most unbelievable: a 21-year-old British woman calling herself a male recently gave birth (here). It is easy to conclude that any distinctions between the sexes are being erased by the left, which always has the patience to do things in small steps before these things gain wider and eventually mainstream acceptance.
The following quote from Gertrude Himmelfarb perfectly describes what is happening:
What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized[.] ... As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant.
So what comes next in defining what it means to be human and a person? Individualism certainly hasn't been a stellar success, as it's led to a great deal of narcissism, or what might be called selfism, an unintended consequence of the Enlightenment and the triumph of the self over any kind of authority other than oneself. Two outstanding analyses of this phenomenon brought on by modernity can be found in Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism, American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations and The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in an Age of Entitlement by Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell.
Transhumanism is a reflection of the next stage of how a person is being defined and is the logical conclusion to the pervasive narcissism of our times. Now, with the emergence of a postmodern society where definition and truth have become whatever one wants them to be, it's only logical that the same goes for what it means to be a person. The progression appears to be moving from the soul to the self to "whatever I want to be" – a surefire formula for the complete breakdown of society into anarchy and nihilism.