The speed at which the recent sexual and gender identity revolutions have overtaken culture is staggering. How did we get to the point where, for instance, a statement like “I am a man trapped in a woman’s body” can now be spoken and understood, whereas even a generation ago this string of words wouldn’t have been seen as intelligible? Yet now we all know what is meant. What conditions laid the groundwork for such ideas to take hold–and not just take hold, but so quickly?
In 2020 Carl Trueman released his award-winning book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to the Sexual Revolution. And now he has published a shorter and more accessible treatment of this topic, Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution (March 2022). In these two books, Trueman guides us through both the philosophical trends and societal factors that have moved our modern culture toward this era of “expressive individualism.” He shows us that the sexual revolution and its accompanying identity politics are just the most recent symptoms of these larger shifts in how we’ve come to conceive of human nature.