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Existentialism and the Y chromosome

Every male on earth, from the earliest time, has carried a “Y” chromosome (the X-shaped bundles of DNA, contained within the cell nucleus) inherited from the father, which makes him differ from the female, with two X chromosomes.


Nigel Pocock


In 1946, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote his classic statement on existentialism, far too brusque for some―in which he coined the foundational expressions that encapsulate the “movement” (a contradiction in terms, since individualism is of its essence!).

It is from Sartre that we learn that there is “no reality except in action” and that “existence precedes essence”, and that there are “no values under an intelligible heaven”, and that man (generic!) is “in consequence forlorn”, and “condemned to be free”.

This is the manifesto of both the individualist of today, and of the politician who is attempting to translate this into social policy, namely, of (supposedly) trying to not cause offence to anyone.

This is, of course, impossible, since some truth claims are contradictory, and none of us are unbiased.

In seeking to “grease the wheels when they squeak”, all politicians are guided by some sort of notion of the “good”, even if this is completely self-serving, and not, or only partially, for the alleged “common good”, of “happiness for the greatest number”.

The Y chromosome causes deep offence, as does the X chromosome, especially to those who want to the “free” to define their own “essence” in a world in which there are no values than their own existential ones. The louder the squeak, the more grease the politicians apply, even to the neglect of other (seemingly) minor squeaks, and all with their particular brand of grease…

If I want to be what I want to be, to hell with my unchangeable DNA! If I feel that I am not what my chromosomes are, so much the worse for my chromosomes!

Am I not socially constructed, and that over-rules whatever X or Y factor lies in every cell of my body?

Am I not “free” to claim whatever identity I wish, and that I can create an “essence” (identity) for myself? Am I not “condemned to be free”, and, by my actions, to construct whatever essence or identity I want for myself?

Or is my supposed individualism, itself socially constructed? Or is it, with Peter Berger, that we need to “relativise the relativisers”?

The biological fact remains. By definition, except in very rare cases, almost everyone is X or Y. However horrible some may conceive this to be.

They are “free” to deny this of course!

What then of the political élite, trying to reconcile both individualism and a policy of “not offending anyone”?

One strategy of such politicians is to attempt to quieten the wheels through the creation of laws to seemingly cover every micro- aggression, especially those of the most vociferous groups (in denial of chromosomal reality).

This results, not in tolerance (which is the recognition of disagreement with a group whose right to exist is acknowledged), but intolerance, and as “hate speech” which can refer to almost any disagreements or criticism.

This is the denial of the politicians” own ideological commitments as being relative, and the assumption that this ideology is the only “right one”.

How have the mighty fallen!

Claiming an open society, they have created an increasingly closed one, in which certain areas of scientific enquiry are declared illegitimate, and the political vote rules.

For what use is power in a democracy, unless it is voted in? Hence are the ideologues of chromosomal denial, in order to exercise their freedom to choose and realise their essence, never mind anyone else.

One imagines that the unfortunate Procustes, having been cut down to a size that fitted his proverbial bed, eventually died of his injuries?

(Photos: Pixabay)

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