Apr 24 • 1HR 10M

John McWhorter and Mark Goldblatt – I Feel, Therefore I Am

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Glenn Loury
Weekly conversations on race, inequality, and more, with Glenn Loury. Bi-weekly appearances by John McWhorter.
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I pride myself on tackling big ideas and difficult topics here on The Glenn Show. But there is one hot-button issue that I haven’t devoted much attention to: the transgender debate. On this week’s episode, John and I speak with author and professor of religion at the Fashion Institute of Technology Mark Goldblatt about his views on wokeism, subjectivism, and, yes, the trans issue. John is usually reticent to discuss anything having to do with trans issues, given his understandable wish to avoid cancelation. But in this episode, he delves into the topic in earnest.

We start the conversation off by discussing Mark’s latest book, I Feel, Therefore I Am: The Triumph of Woke Subjectivism, and how he defines “woke.” Mark’s critique of wokeness turns on the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity, and wokeism’s subordination of the latter to the former. This gets us into some heady epistemological terrain, and Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault accusations against Brett Kavanaugh become a kind of test case for how Mark views subjectivism in the public sphere. From there, we move onto the transgender issue. Mark is careful to emphasize that he believes we need to respect the rights and dignity of trans people. But he also thinks that trans people’s beliefs about their gender—which Mark classifies as a mental illness—do not obligate him or anybody else to accept their views. And let’s not forget that transgender rights are a political issue, and not just a personal one!

I’ve wanted to broach the trans issue in a calm, rational way here for some time now. And Mark’s clear-headed approach to the subject facilitates, I think, an excellent first foray.

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Featured Content from City Journal

Christopher Nadon: The college where I teach, like so many others around the country, seems to want students to be informers instead of free thinkers.

0:00 Mark’s recent book, I Feel, Therefore I Am: The Triumph of Woke Subjectivism

10:55 Wokeism’s roots in postmodern thought

15:05 The “mysticism” of woke thinking

17:44 Learning from Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations

26:29 John breaks his silence on transgender issues

35:13 The political consequences of subjectivism

41:46 Why Mark thinks transgender people are mentally disordered

50:07 What does the T have to do with the LGB?

58:09 Mark: Transgender people deserve respect

1:02:39 Distinguishing between strategy and reality

Recorded April 23, 2023

Links and Readings

Mark’s book, I Feel Therefore I Am: The Triumph of Woke Subjectivism

Matt Yglesias’s Vox essay, “The Great Awokening”

A clip from Glenn’s recent appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher