|Johann Kaspar Schmidt|
Max Stirner, as portrayed by Friedrich Engels
October 25, 1806
June 26, 1856
|Ethics, Politics, Ontology, Property, Value theory|
Johann Kaspar Schmidt (October 25, 1806 – June 26, 1856), better known as Max Stirner, was a German philosopher. He is often seen as one of the forerunners of nihilism, existentialism, postmodernism, and anarchism, especially of individualist anarchism. Stirner's main work is The Ego and Its Own, also known as The Ego and His Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum in German, which translates literally as The Unique One and His Property). This work was first published in 1845 in Leipzig, and has since appeared in numerous editions and translations.
- Biography 1
- Egoism 2.1
- Union of egoists 2.2.1
- Revolution 2.2.2
- Hegel's possible influence 2.3
- The False Principle of our Education 3.1
- Art and Religion 3.2
- The Ego and Its Own 3.3
- Stirner's Critics 3.4
- The Philosophical Reactionaries : 'The Modern Sophists' by Kuno Fischer 3.5
- History of Reaction 3.6
- Critical reception 4
- Comments by contemporaries 5
- Marx and Engels 6.1
- Stirner and post-structuralism 6.2
- Possible influence on Nietzsche 6.3
- Rudolf Steiner 6.4
- Anarchism 6.5
- Free love, homosexuals, and feminists 6.6
- See also 7
- Notes 8
- References 9
- Further reading 10
External links 11
- General 11.1
- Relationship with other philosophers 11.2
- Texts 11.3
Stirner was born in Bayreuth, Bavaria. What little is known of his life is mostly due to the Scottish-born German writer John Henry Mackay, who wrote a biography of Stirner (Max Stirner – sein Leben und sein Werk), published in German in 1898 (enlarged 1910, 1914), and translated into English in 2005.
Stirner was the only child of Albert Christian Heinrich Schmidt (1769–1807) and Sophia Elenora Reinlein (1778–1839). His father died of tuberculosis on April 19, 1807 at the age of 37. In 1809 his mother remarried to Heinrich Ballerstedt, a pharmacist, and settled in West Prussian Kulm (now Chełmno, Poland).
When Stirner turned 20, he attended the John Cowper Powys, Martin Buber, Sidney Hook, Robert Anton Wilson, Horst Matthai, Frank Brand, Marcel Duchamp, several writers of the Situationist International including Raoul Vaneigem, and Max Ernst. Years before rising to power, Benito Mussolini was inspired by Stirner, and made several references to him in his newspaper articles. The similarities in style between The Ego and Its Own and Oscar Wilde's The Soul of Man Under Socialism have caused some historians to speculate that Wilde (who could read German) was familiar with the book.
Since its appearance in 1844, The Ego and Its Own has seen periodic revivals of popular, political and academic interest, based around widely divergent translations and interpretations – some psychological, others political in their emphasis. Today, many ideas associated with post-left anarchy's criticism of ideology and uncompromising individualism are clearly related to Stirner's. He has also been regarded as pioneering individualist feminism, since his objection to any absolute concept also clearly counts gender roles as "spooks". His ideas were also adopted by post-anarchism, with Saul Newman largely in agreement with many of Stirner's criticisms of classical anarchism, including his rejection of revolution and essentialism.
Marx and Engels
Engels commented on Stirner in poetry at the time of Die Freien:
He once even recalled at how they were "great friends (Duzbrüder)". In November 1844, Engels wrote a letter to Marx. He reported first on a visit to Moses Hess in Cologne, and then went on to note that during this visit Hess had given him a press copy of a new book by Max Stirner, Der Einzige und Sein Eigenthum. In his letter to Marx, Engels promised to send a copy of Der Einzige to him, for it certainly deserved their attention, as Stirner: "had obviously, among the 'Free Ones', the most talent, independence and diligence". To begin with Engels was enthusiastic about the book, and expressed his opinions freely in letters to Marx:
Later, Marx and Engels wrote a major criticism of Stirner's work. The number of pages Marx and Engels devote to attacking Stirner in (the unexpurgated text of) The German Ideology, in which they derided him as "Sankt Max" (Saint Max), exceeds the total of Stirner's written works. As Isaiah Berlin has described it, Stirner "is pursued through five hundred pages of heavy-handed mockery and insult". The book was written in 1845–1846, but not published until 1932. Marx's lengthy, ferocious polemic against Stirner has since been considered an important turning point in Marx's intellectual development from idealism to materialism. It has been argued that historical materialism was Marx's method of reconciling communism with a Stirnerite rejection of morality.
Stirner and post-structuralism
The influential French poststructuralist thinker Jacques Derrida in his book Specters of Marx dealt with Stirner and his relationship with Marx while also analysing Stirner's concept of "specters" or "spooks". Gilles Deleuze, another key thinker associated with post-structuralism mentions Stirner briefly in his book The Logic of Sense. Saul Newman calls Stirner a proto-poststructuralist who on the one hand had essentially anticipated modern post-structuralists such as Foucault, Lacan, Deleuze, and Derrida, but on the other had already transcended them, thus providing what they were unable to: a ground for a non-essentialist critique of present liberal capitalist society. This is particularly evident in Stirner's identification of the self with a "creative nothing", a thing that cannot be bound by ideology (like leftist or marxists ideology of Frenchs postructuralists), inaccessible to representation in language.
Possible influence on Nietzsche
The ideas of Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche have often been compared, and many authors have discussed apparent similarities in their writings, sometimes raising the question of influence. In Germany, during the early years of Nietzsche's emergence as a well-known figure, the only thinker discussed in connection with his ideas more often than Stirner was Schopenhauer. It is certain that Nietzsche read about Stirner's most important book The Ego and Its Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum), which was mentioned in Lange's History of Materialism and Eduard von Hartmann's Philosophy of the Unconscious, both of which Nietzsche knew well. However, there is no indication that he actually read it, as no mention of Stirner is known to exist anywhere in Nietzsche's publications, papers or correspondence. In 2002, a biographical discovery revealed it is probable that Nietzsche had encountered Stirner's ideas before he read Hartmann and Lange, in October 1865, when he met with Eduard Mushacke, an old friend of Stirner's during the 1840s.
And yet as soon as Nietzsche's work began to reach a wider audience the question of whether or not he owed a debt of influence to Stirner was raised. As early as 1891 (while Nietzsche was still alive, though incapacitated by mental illness) Eduard von Hartmann went so far as to suggest that he had plagiarized Stirner. By the turn of the century the belief that Nietzsche had been influenced by Stirner was so widespread that it became something of a commonplace, at least in Germany, prompting one observer to note in 1907 "Stirner's influence in modern Germany has assumed astonishing proportions, and moves in general parallel with that of Nietzsche. The two thinkers are regarded as exponents of essentially the same philosophy."
Nevertheless, from the very beginning of what was characterized as "great debate" regarding Stirner's possible positive influence on Nietzsche, serious problems with the idea were noted. By the middle of the 20th century, if Stirner was mentioned at all in works on Nietzsche, the idea of influence was often dismissed outright or abandoned as unanswerable.
But the idea that Nietzsche was influenced in some way by Stirner continues to attract a significant minority, perhaps because it seems necessary to explain in some reasonable fashion the often-noted (though arguably superficial) similarities in their writings. In any case, the most significant problems with the theory of possible Stirner influence on Nietzsche are not limited to the difficulty in establishing whether the one man knew of or read the other. They also consist in establishing precisely how and why Stirner in particular might have been a meaningful influence on a man as widely read as Nietzsche.
The individualist-anarchist orientation of Rudolf Steiner's early philosophy – before he turned to theosophy around 1900 – has strong parallels to, and was admittedly influenced by Stirner's conception of the ego, for which Steiner claimed to have provided a philosophical foundation.
|Part of the Politics series on|
Stirner's philosophy was important in the development of modern anarchist thought, particularly individualist anarchism and egoist anarchism. Although Stirner is usually associated with individualist anarchism, he was influential to many social anarchists such as anarcha-feminists Emma Goldman and Federica Montseny. In european individualist anarchism he influenced its main proponents after him such as Emile Armand, Han Ryner, Renzo Novatore, John Henry Mackay, Miguel Giménez Igualada, and Lev Chernyi.
In the United Kingdom Herbert Read was influenced by Stirner, and noted the closeness of Stirner's egoism to existentialism (see existentialist anarchism). Later in the 1960s Daniel Guérin in Anarchism: From Theory to Practice says that Stirner "rehabilitated the individual at a time when the philosophical field was dominated by Hegelian anti-individualism and most reformers in the social field had been led by the misdeeds of bourgeois egotism to stress its opposite" and pointed to "the boldness and scope of his thought." In the seventies an American situationist collective called For Ourselves published a book called The Right To Be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything in which they advocate a "communist egoism" basing themselves on Stirner.
Later in the USA emerged the tendency of post-left anarchy which was influenced profundly by Stirner in aspects such as the critique of ideology. Jason McQuinn says that "when I (and other anti-ideological anarchists) criticize ideology, it is always from a specifically critical, anarchist perspective rooted in both the skeptical, individualist-anarchist philosophy of Max Stirner. Also Bob Black and Feral Faun/Wolfi Landstreicher strongly adhere to Stirnerist egoism. In the hybrid of post-structuralism and Anarchism called post-anarchism Saul Newman has written on Stirner and his similarities to post-structuralism. Insurrectionary anarchism also has an important relationship with Stirner as can be seen in the work of Wolfi Landstreicher and Alfredo Bonanno who has also written on him in works such as Max Stirner and "Max Stirner und der Anarchismus".
Free love, homosexuals, and feminists
The German stirnerist Adolf Brand produced the homosexual periodical Der Eigene in 1896. This was the first ongoing homosexual publication in the world, and ran until 1931. The name was taken from the writings of Stirner, who had greatly influenced the young Brand, and refers to Stirner's concept of "self-ownership" of the individual. Another early homosexual activist influenced by Stirner was John Henry Mackay. Feminists influenced by Stirner include Dora Marsden who edited the journals The Freewoman and The New Freewoman and Anarchist Emma Goldman. Stirner also influenced free love and polyamory propagandist Émile Armand in the context of French individualist anarchism of the early 20th century which is known for "The call of nudist naturism, the strong defense of birth control methods, the idea of "unions of egoists" with the sole justification of sexual practices".
- Individualist anarchism in Europe
- Philosophy of Max Stirner
- Relationship between Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner
- The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, volume 8, The Macmillan Company and The Free Press, New York 1967.
- Max Stirner entry by David Leopold in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2006-08-04
- Goodway, David. Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow. Liverpool University Press, 2006, p. 99.
- John Henry Mackay: Max Stirner – Sein Leben und sein Werk p. 28
- The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, volume 8, The Macmillan Company and The Free Press, New York 1967.
- Stepelevich, Lawrence (Oct–Dec 1985). "Max Stirner as Hegelian". Journal of the History of Ideas – via
- Marshall, Peter (1992). Demanding the impossible. Harper Collins. p. 221.
- Lawrence L Stepelevich, The revival of Max Stirner
- Gide, Charles & Rist, Charles. A History of Economic Doctrines from the Time of the Physiocrats to the Present Day. Harrap 1956, p. 612
- The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, volume 8, The Macmillan Company and The Free Press, New York 1967
- Heider, Ulrike. Anarchism: Left, Right and Green, San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1994, pp. 95–96
- Stirner, Max. The Ego and Its Own, p. 248
- Moggach, Douglas. The New Hegelians. Cambridge University Press, 2006 p. 194
- Thomas, Paul (1985). Karl Marx and the Anarchists. London:
- Nyberg, Svein Olav. "The union of egoists" (PDF). Non Serviam (Oslo, Norway: Svein Olav Nyberg) 1: 13–14.
- Moggach, Douglas & De Ridder, Widukind. Hegelianism in Restoration Prussia,1841–1848: Freedom, Humanism and ‘Anti-Humanism’ in Young Hegelian Thought. In: 'Hegel's Thought in Europe: Currents, Crosscurrents and Undercurrents', ed. Lisa Herzog (pp. 71-92). Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 82-83
- Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, The Macmillan company Press, New York, 1967
- See Bernd A. Laska: Nietzsche's initial crisis. In: Germanic Notes and Reviews, vol. 33, n. 2, fall/Herbst 2002, pp. 109–133
- George J. Stack, Lange and Nietzsche, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, 1983, p. 12, ISBN 978-3-11-008866-3
- Max Stirner entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Max Stirner, a durable dissident – in a nutshell
- Quoted in Read's book, "The Contrary Experience", Faber and Faber, 1963.
- See Memoirs of a revolutionary, 1901–1941 by Victor Serge. Publisher Oxford U.P., 1967
- See Bernd A. Laska: Ein dauerhafter Dissident. Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag 1996 (online)
- See Bernd A. Laska: Katechon und Anarch. Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag 1997 (online)
- Huneker's book Egoists, a Book of Supermen (1909)contains an essay on Stirner.
- See Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, p. 50.
- Wilson, A N (November 1, 2004). "World of books". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- Between Man and Man by Martin Buber, Beacon Press, 1955.
- From Hegel to Marx by Sidney Hook, London, 1936.
- "The long revolution is preparing to write works in the ink of action whose unknown or nameless authors will flock to join Sade, Fourier, Babeuf, Marx, Lacenaire, Stirner, Lautréamont, L’hautier, Vaillant, Henry, Villa, Zapata, Makhno, the Communards, the insurrectionaries of Hamburg, Kiel, Kronstadt, Asturias – all those who have not yet played their last card in a game which we have only just joined: the great gamble whose stake is freedom." Raoul Vaneigem. The Revolution of Everyday Life
- David Goodway, Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow, Liverpool University Press, 2006 (pg.75).
- Henri Arvon, Aux sources de 1'existentialisme Max Stirner (Paris, 1954), p. 14
- Zwischen 18 and 25, pp. 237–238.
- Die deutsche Ideologie in Sankt Max"Chapter
- I. Berlin, Karl Marx (New York, 1963), 143.
- G. Stedman-Jones, 'Introduction' in K. Marx & F. Engels, The Communist Manifesto (London, 2002)
- Jacques Derrida. Specters of Marx. Routledge. 1994
- "Human or divine, as Stirner said, the predicates are the same whether they belong analytically to the divine being, or whether they are synthetically bound to the human form" [[The Logic of SenseGilles Deleuze. . Continuum. Pg. 122]
- Albert Levy, Stirner and Nietzsche, Paris, 1904; Robert Schellwien, Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche, 1892; H.L. Mencken, The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, 1908; K. Löwith, From Hegel To Nietzsche New York, 1964, p187; R.A. Nicholls, "Beginnings of the Nietzsche Vogue in Germany", in Modern Philology, Vol. 56, No. 1, Aug., 1958, pp. 24–37; T. A. Riley, "Anti-Statism in German Literature, as Exemplified by the Work of John Henry Mackay", in PMLA, Vol. 62, No. 3, Sep., 1947, pp. 828–843; Seth Taylor, Left Wing Nietzscheans, The Politics of German Expressionism 1910–1920, p144, 1990, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York; Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche et la Philosophy, Presses Universitaires de France, 1962; R. C. Solomon & K. M. Higgins, The Age of German Idealism, p300, Routledge, 1993
- While discussion of possible influence has never ceased entirely, the period of most intense discussion occurred between 1892 and 1900 in the German-speaking world. During this time, the most comprehensive account of Nietzsche's reception in the German language, the 4 volume work of Richard Frank Krummel: Nietzsche und der deutsche Geist indicates 83 entries discussing Stirner and Nietzsche. The only thinker more frequently discussed in connection with Nietzsche during this time is Schopenhauer, with about twice the number of entries. Discussion steadily declines thereafter, but is still significant. Nietzsche and Stirner show 58 entries between 1901 and 1918. From 1919 to 1945 there are 28 entries regarding Nietzsche and Stirner.
- "Apart from the information which can be gained from the annotations, the library (and the books Nietzsche read) shows us the extent, and the bias, of Nietzsche's knowledge of many fields, such as evolution and cosmology. Still more obvious, the library shows us the extent and the bias of Nietzsche's knowledge about many persons to whom he so often refers with ad hominem statements in his published works. This includes not only such important figures a Mill, Kant, and Pascal but also such minor ones (for Nietzsche) as Max Stirner and William James who are both discussed in books Nietzsche read." T. H. Brobjer, "Nietzsche's Reading and Private Library", 1885–1889, in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 58, No. 4, Oct., 1997, pp. 663–693; Stack believes it is doubtful that Nietzsche read Stirner, but notes "he was familiar with the summary of his theory he found in Lange's history." George J. Stack, Lange and Nietzsche, Walter de Gruyter, 1983, p 276
- Albert Levy, Stirner and Nietzsche, Paris, 1904
- Bernd A. Laska: Nietzsche's initial crisis. In: Germanic Notes and Reviews, vol. 33, n. 2, fall/Herbst 2002, pp. 109–133
- Eduard von Hartmann, Nietzsches "neue Moral", in Preussische Jahrbücher, 67. Jg., Heft 5, Mai 1891, S. 501–521; augmented version with more express reproach of plagiarism in: Ethische Studien, Leipzig, Haacke 1898, pp. 34–69
- This author believes that one should be careful in comparing the two men. However, he notes: "It is this intensive nuance of individualism that appeared to point from Nietzsche to Max Stirner, the author of the remarkable work Der Einzige und sein Eigentum. Stirner's influence in modern Germany has assumed astonishing proportions, and moves in general parallel with that of Nietzsche. The two thinkers are regarded as exponents of essentially the same philosophy." O. Ewald, "German Philosophy in 1907", in The Philosophical Review, Vol. 17, No. 4, Jul., 1908, pp. 400–426
- [in the last years of the 19th century] "The question of whether Nietzsche had read Stirner was the subject of great debate" R.A. Nicholls, "Beginnings of the Nietzsche Vogue in Germany", in Modern Philology, Vol. 56, No. 1, Aug., 1958, pp. 29–30
- Levy pointed out in 1904 that the similarities in the writing of the two men appeared superficial. Albert Levy, Stirner and Nietzsche, Paris, 1904
- R.A. Nicholls, "Beginnings of the Nietzsche Vogue in Germany", in Modern Philology, Vol. 56, No. 1, Aug., 1958, pp. 24–37
- "Stirner, like Nietzsche, who was clearly influenced by him, has been interpreted in many different ways", Saul Newman, From Bakunin to Lacan: Anti-authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power, Lexington Books, 2001, p 56; "We do not even know for sure that Nietzsche had read Stirner. Yet, the similarities are too striking to be explained away." R. A. Samek, The Meta Phenomenon, p70, New York, 1981; Tom Goyens, (referring to Stirner's book The Ego and His Own) "The book influenced Friedrich Nietzsche, and even Marx and Engels devoted some attention to it." T. Goyens, Beer and Revolution: The German Anarchist Movement In New York City, p197, Illinois, 2007
- "We have every reason to suppose that Nietzsche had a profound knowledge of the Hegelian movement, from Hegel to Stirner himself. The philosophical learning of an author is not assessed by the number of quotations, nor by the always fanciful and conjectural check lists of libraries, but by the apologetic or polemical directions of his work itself." Gilles Deleuze (translated by Hugh Tomlinson), Nietzsche and Philosophy, 1962 (2006 reprint, pp. 153–154)
- Guido Giacomo Preparata, "Perishable Money in a Threefold Commonwealth: Rudolf Steiner and the Social Economics of an Anarchist Utopia". Review of Radical Economics 38/4 (Fall 2006). pp. 619–648
- "Only the influence of the German philosopher of egoism, Max Stirner (né Johann Kaspar Schmidt, 1806–1856), as expressed through The Ego and His Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum) compared with that of Proudhon. In adopting Stirnerite egoism (1886), Tucker rejected natural rights which had long been considered the foundation of libertarianism. This rejection galvanized the movement into fierce debates, with the natural rights proponents accusing the egoists of destroying libertarianism itself. So bitter was the conflict that a number of natural rights proponents withdrew from the pages of Liberty in protest even though they had hitherto been among its frequent contributors. Thereafter, Liberty championed egoism although its general content did not change significantly."Wendy Mcelroy. "Benjamin Tucker, Individualism, & Liberty: Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order"
- Daniel Guérin,Anarchism: From Theory to Practice
- Four Ourselves, The Right To Be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything
- "What is Ideology?" by Jason McQuinn
- BONANNO, Alfredo Maria
- Karl Heinrich Ulrichs had begun a journal called Prometheus in 1870, but only one issue was published. (Kennedy, Hubert, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: First Theorist of Homosexuality, In: 'Science and Homosexualities', ed. Vernon Rosario (pp. 26–45). New York: Routledge, 1997.
- "La insumisión voluntaria. El anarquismo individualista español durante la dictadura y la Segunda República" by Xavier Díez
- Stirner, Max: Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (1845 [October 1844]). Stuttgart: Reclam-Verlag, 1972ff; engl. trans. The Ego and Its Own (1907), ed. David Leopold, Cambridge/ New York: CUP 1995
- Stirner, Max: "Recensenten Stirners" (September 1845). In: Parerga, Kritiken, Repliken, Bernd A. Laska, ed., Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag, 1986; engl. trans. Stirner's Critics (abridged), see below
- Max Stirner, Political Liberalism (1845)
- Max Stirner's 'Der Einzige und sein Eigentum' im Spiegel der zeitgenössischen deutschen Kritik. Eine Textauswahl (1844–1856). Hg. Kurt W. Fleming. Leipzig: Verlag Max-Stirner-Archiv 2001 (Stirneriana)
- Arena, Leonardo V., Note ai margini del nulla, ebook, 2013.
- Arvon, Henri, Aux Sources de l'existentialisme, Paris: P.U.F. 1954
- Essbach, Wolfgang, Gegenzüge. Der Materialismus des Selbst. Eine Studie über die Kontroverse zwischen Max Stirner und Karl Marx. Frankfurt: Materialis 1982
- Helms, Hans G, Die Ideologie der anonymen Gesellschaft. Max Stirner 'Einziger' und der Fortschritt des demokratischen Selbstbewusstseins vom Vormärz bis zur Bundesrepublik, Köln: Du Mont Schauberg, 1966
- Koch, Andrew M., "Max Stirner: The Last Hegelian or the First Poststructuralist". In: Anarchist Studies, vol. 5 (1997) pp. 95–108
- Laska, Bernd A., Ein dauerhafter Dissident. Eine Wirkungsgeschichte des Einzigen, Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag 1996 (TOC, index)
- Laska, Bernd A., Ein heimlicher Hit. Editionsgeschichte des "Einzigen". Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag 1994 (abstract)
- Marshall, Peter H. "Max Stirner" in "Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism "(London: HarperCollins, 1992).
- Moggach, Douglas & De Ridder, Widukind, "Hegelianism in Restoration Prussia,1841–1848: Freedom, Humanism and ‘Anti-Humanism’ in Young Hegelian Thought". In: Herzog, Lisa (ed.): Hegel's Thought in Europe: Currents, Crosscurrents and Undercurrents. Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 71–92 (Google Books)
- Newman, Saul (ed.), Max Stirner (Critical Explorations in Contemporary Political Thought), Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011 (full book)
- Newman, Saul, Power and Politics in Poststructural Thought. London and New York: Routledge 2005
- Paterson, R.W.K., The Nihilistic Egoist: Max Stirner, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1971
- Stepelevich, Lawrence S., Max Stirner As Hegelian. In: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 46, nr. 4, pp. 597–614
- Stepelevich, Lawrence S., Ein Menschenleben. Hegel and Stirner". In: Moggach, Douglas (ed.): The New Hegelians. Philosophy and Politics in the Hegelian School. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 166–176
- Welsh, John F. Max Stirner's Dialectical Egoism: A New Interpretation. Lexington Books. 2010.
- Di Mascio, Carlo, Stirner Giuspositivista. Rileggendo l'Unico e la sua proprietà, 2 ed., Edizioni Del Faro, Trento, 2015, pp. 253, ISBN 978-88-6537-378-1
- Works written by or about Max Stirner at Wikisource
- Quotations related to Max Stirner at Wikiquote
- Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
- Max Stirner entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, an extensive introduction
- Svein Olav Nybergs website on Max Stirner, with extensive links to texts and references
- Max Stirner within the LSR project (English section)
- Max Stirner Project by H. Ibrahim Türkdogan
- Archive of texts on Stirner at the Anarchist Library
Relationship with other philosophers
- Max Stirner, a durable dissident, 'How Marx and Nietzsche suppressed their colleague Max Stirner and why he has intellectually survived them'
- Stirner Delighted in His Construction – "loves miracles, but can only perform a logical miracle", by Karl Marx
- Nietzsche's initial crisis due to an encounter with Stirner's "The Ego", by Bernd A. Laska (2002)
- Max Stirner As Hegelian, By Lawrence S. Stepelevich
- "At the End of the Path of Doubt: Max Stirner", By Lawrence S. Stepelevich (Owl of Minerva 41:1–2 (2009–10) pp. 85–106)
- Works by Max Stirner at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Max Stirner at Internet Archive
- Works by Max Stirner at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Der Einzige und sein EigentumOnline book
- Der Einzige und sein EigentumThe complete original text in German of
- The complete English edition of "The Ego and his Own", in the translation of Steven T. Byington.
- Some of Stirner's illuminating "Shorter Essays", translated into English
- Recensenten Stirners / Stirner's Critics bilingual: full text in German / abridged text in English (trans. Frederick M. Gordon)
- Stirner´s CriticsArchive of the 4 works of Stirner translated into English including a 2011 complete translation of (translated by Wolfi Landstreicher at the Anarchist Library)
While Der Einzige was a critical success and attracted much reaction from famous philosophers after publication, it was out of print and the notoriety it had provoked had faded many years before Stirner's death. Stirner had a destructive impact on left-Hegelianism, though his philosophy was a significant influence on Marx and his magnum opus became a founding text of individualist anarchism. Edmund Husserl once warned a small audience about the "seducing power" of Der Einzige, but never mentioned it in his writing. As the art critic and Stirner admirer Herbert Read observed, the book has remained "stuck in the gizzard" of Western culture since it first appeared.
"again and again" and was therefore very familiar with the passage regarding Stirner. History of Materialism Nietzsche read Lange's  Some people believe that, in a sense, a "second positive part" was soon to be added, though not by Stirner, but by
Twenty years after the appearance of Stirner's book, the author Friedrich Albert Lange wrote the following:
Comments by contemporaries
While Marx's Sankt Max (large part of Die Deutsche Ideologie/The German Ideology), not published until 1932, so assured The Ego and Its Own a place of curious interest among Marxist readers, Marx's ridicule of Stirner has played a significant role in the subsequent marginalization of Stirner's work, in popular and academic discourse.
Stirner's work did not go unnoticed among his contemporaries. Stirner's attacks on ideology – in particular Feuerbach's humanism – forced Feuerbach into print. Moses Hess (at that time close to Marx) and Szeliga (pseudonym of Franz Zychlin von Zychlinski, an adherent of Bruno Bauer) also replied to Stirner. Stirner answered the criticism in a German periodical, in the article Stirner's Critics (org. Recensenten Stirners, September 1845), which clarifies several points of interest to readers of the book – especially in relation to Feuerbach.
Geschichte der Reaktion (History of Reaction) was published in two volumes in 1851 by Allgemeine Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt and immediately banned in Austria. It was written in the context of the recent 1848 revolutions in German states and is mainly a collection of the works of others selected and translated by Stirner. The introduction and some additional passages were Stirner's work. Edmund Burke and Auguste Comte are quoted to show two opposing views of revolution.
History of Reaction
Looking back on 'Der Einzige und sein Eigentum', Stirner claims:
The majority of the text deals with Kuno Fischer’s definition of Sophism. With much wit, the self- contradictory nature of Fischer’s criticism of Sophism is exposed. Fischer had made a sharp distinction between Sophism and philosophy, while at the same time considering Sophism as the "mirror image of philosophy". The Sophists breathe "philosophical air" and were "dialectically inspired to a formal volubility". Stirner's answer is striking:
Die Philosophischen Reactionäre (The Philosophical Reactionaries) was published in 1847 in Die Epigonen, a journal edited by Otto Wigand from Leipzig. At the time, Wigand had already published Der Einzige und sein Eigentum, and was about to finish the publication of Stirner’s translations of Adam Smith and Jean-Baptiste Say. As the subtitle indicates, Die Philosophischen Reactionäre was written in response to an article by Kuno Fischer (1824–1907) entitled Die Moderne Sophisten (1847). The article was signed ‘G. Edward’, and its authorship has been disputed ever since John Henry Mackay ‘cautiously’ attributed it to Stirner and included it in his collection of Stirner’s lesser writings. It was first translated into English in 2011, and the introductory note explains:
The Philosophical Reactionaries : 'The Modern Sophists' by Kuno Fischer
Recensenten Stirners (Stirner's Critics) was published in September 1845 in Wigands Vierteljahrsschrift. It is a response, in which Stirner refers to himself in the third-person, to three critical reviews of The Ego and its Own by Moses Hess in Die letzten Philosophen (The Last Philosophers), by a certain "Szeliga" (alias of an adherent of Bruno Bauer) in an article in the journal Norddeutsche Blätter, and by Ludwig Feuerbach anonymously in an article called Über 'Das Wesen des Christentums' in Beziehung auf Stirners 'Der Einzige und sein Eigentum' (On 'The Essence of Christianity' in Relation to Stirner's 'The Ego and its Own' ) in Wigands Vierteljahrsschrift.
Stirner's argument explores and extends the limits of criticism, aiming his critique especially at those of his contemporaries, particularly Ludwig Feuerbach, and at popular ideologies, including religion, liberalism, and humanism (which he regarded as analogous to religion with the abstract Man or humanity as the supreme being), nationalism, statism, capitalism, socialism, and communism.
The book proclaims that all religions and ideologies rest on empty concepts. The same holds true for society's institutions that claim authority over the individual, be it the state, legislation, the church, or the systems of education such as Universities.
Stirner's main work is Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum (in modern German spelling Der Einzige und sein Eigentum; engl. trans. The Ego and Its Own), which appeared in Leipzig in October 1844, with as year of publication mentioned 1845. In The Ego and Its Own, Stirner launches a radical anti-authoritarian and individualist critique of contemporary Prussian society, and modern western society as such. He offers an approach to human existence which depicts the self as a creative non-entity, beyond language and reality.
The Ego and Its Own
Stirner deliberately left Philosophy out of the dialectical triad (Art-Religion-Philosophy), by claiming that Philosophy "doesn’t bother itself with objects" (Religion), nor does it "make an object" (Art). Philosophy, in Stirner's account, was in fact indifferent towards both Art and Religion. Stirner thus mocked and radicalised Bauer's criticism of religion.
Kunst und Religion (Art and Religion) was also published in Rheinische Zeitung, June 14, 1842. It addresses Bruno Bauer and his publication against Hegel called Hegel's doctrine of religion and art judged from the standpoint of faith. Bauer had inverted Hegel's relation between Art and Religion, by claiming that Art was much more closely related to Philosophy than Religion, based on their shared determinacy and clarity, and a common ethical root. Stirner, however, went beyond both Hegel and Bauer's criticism, by asserting that Art rather created an object for Religion and could thus by no means be related to what Stirner considered -in opposition with Hegel and Bauer- to be ‘Philosophy’:
Art and Religion
In 1842 Das unwahre Prinzip unserer Erziehung (The False Principle of our Education) was published in Rheinische Zeitung, which was edited by Marx at the time. Written as a reaction to Otto Friedrich Theodor Heinsius' treatise Humanism vs. Realism, Stirner explains that education in either the classical humanist method or the practical realist method still lacks true value. Education, therefore, is fulfilled in aiding the individual in becoming an individual.
The False Principle of our Education
Scholars such as Douglas Moggach and Widukind De Ridder have argued that Stirner was obviously a student of Hegel, like his contemporaries Ludwig Feuerbach and Bruno Bauer, but this does not necessarily make him an 'Hegelian'. Contrary to the Young Hegelians, Stirner scorned all attempts at an immanent critique of Hegel and the Enlightenment, and renounced Bruno Bauer and Ludwig Feuerbach's emancipatory claims as well. Contrary to Hegel, who considered the given as an inadequate embodiment of rationality, Stirner leaves the given intact by considering it a mere object, not of transformation, but of enjoyment and consumption ("His Own"). Stirner does not go beyond Hegel according to Douglas Moggach, but in fact leaves the domain of philosophy in its entirety:
To go beyond and against Hegel in true dialectical fashion is in some way continuing Hegel's project, and Stepelevich argues that this effort of Stirner's is, in fact a completion of Hegel's project. Stepelevich concludes his argument referring to Jean Hyppolite, who in summing up the intention of Hegel's Phenomenology, stated: "The history of the world is finished; all that is needed is for the specific individual to rediscover it in himself."
Scholars such as Karl Löwith and Lawrence Stepelevich have argued that Hegel was a major influence on The Ego and Its Own. Stepelevich argues, that while The Ego and its Own evidently has an "un-Hegelian structure and tone to the work as a whole", as well as being fundamentally hostile to Hegel's conclusions about the self and the world, this does not mean that Hegel had no effect on Stirner.
Hegel's possible influence
Stirner criticizes conventional notions of revolution, arguing that social movements aimed at overturning the state are tacitly statist because they are implicitly aimed at the establishment of a new state thereafter.
Stirner's idea of the "Union of Egoists", was first expounded in The Ego and Its Own. The Union is understood as a non-systematic association, which Stirner proposed in contradistinction to the state. The Union is understood as a relation between egoists which is continually renewed by all parties' support through an act of will. The Union requires that all parties participate out of a conscious egoism. If one party silently finds themselves to be suffering, but puts up and keeps the appearance, the union has degenerated into something else. This union is not seen as an authority above a person's own will.
Union of egoists
He advocated egoism and a form of amoralism, in which individuals would unite in 'unions of egoists' only when it was in their self-interest to do so. For him, property simply comes about through might: "Whoever knows how to take, to defend, the thing, to him belongs property." And, "What I have in my power, that is my own. So long as I assert myself as holder, I am the proprietor of the thing." He says, "I do not step shyly back from your property, but look upon it always as my property, in which I respect nothing. Pray do the like with what you call my property!" Stirner considers the world and everything in it, including other persons, available to one's taking or use without moral constraint – that rights do not exist in regard to objects and people at all. He sees no rationality in taking the interests of others into account unless doing so furthers one's self-interest, which he believes is the only legitimate reason for acting. He denies society as being an actual entity, calling society a "spook" and that "the individuals are its reality" (The Ego and Its Own).
Stirner proposes that most commonly accepted social institutions – including the notion of State, property as a right, natural rights in general, and the very notion of society – were mere illusions,"spooks" or ghosts in the mind.
The contrast is also expressed in terms of the difference between the voluntary egoist being the possessor of his concepts as opposed to being possessed. Only when one realizes that all sacred truths such as law, Rights, morality, religion etc., are nothing other than artificial concepts, and not to be obeyed, can one act freely. For Stirner, to be free is to be both one's own "creature" (in the sense of 'creation') and one's own "creator" (dislocating the traditional role assigned to the gods). To Stirner power is the method of egoism. It is the only justified method of gaining 'Property (philosophy)'.
Individual self-realization rests on each individual's desire to fulfill their egoism. The difference between an unwilling and a willing egoist, is that the former will be 'possessed' by an empty idea and believe that they are fulfilling a higher cause, but usually being unaware that they are only fulfilling their own desires to be happy or secure, and the latter, in contrast, will be a person that is able to freely choose its actions, fully aware that they are only fulfilling individual desires.
Stirner argues that the concept of the self is something impossible to fully comprehend; a so-called 'creative nothing' he described as an "end-point of language". Stirner has been broadly understood as a proponent of both psychological egoism and ethical egoism, although the latter position can be disputed, as there is no claim in Stirner's writing, in which one 'ought to' pursue one's own interest, and further claiming any 'ought' could be seen as a new 'fixed idea'. However, he may be understood as a rational egoist in the sense that he considered it irrational not to act in one's self-interest. How this self-interest is defined, however, is necessarily subjective, allowing both selfish and altruistic normative claims to be included.
The philosophy of Stirner is credited as a major influence in the development of nihilism, existentialism, post-modernism, and anarchism (especially of individualist anarchism, postanarchism, and post-left anarchy). Stirner's main philosophical work was The Ego and Its Own, also known as The Ego and His Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum in German, which translates literally as The Unique One and His Property).
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After The Ego and Its Own, Stirner wrote Stirner's Critics and translated Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and Jean-Baptiste Say's Traite d'Economie Politique into German, to little financial gain. He also wrote a compilation of texts titled History of Reaction in 1852. Stirner died in 1856 in Berlin from an infected insect bite; it is said that Bruno Bauer was the only Young Hegelian present at his funeral, which was held at the Friedhof II der Sophiengemeinde Berlin.
Stirner planned and financed (with Marie's inheritance) an attempt by some Young Hegelians to own and operate a milk-shop on co-operative principles. This enterprise failed partly because the dairy farmers were suspicious of these well-dressed intellectuals. The milk shop was also so well decorated that most of the potential customers felt too poorly dressed to buy their milk there.
Stirner married twice. His first wife was a household servant, with whom he fell in love at an early age. Soon after their marriage, she died due to complications with pregnancy in 1838. In 1843 he married Marie Dähnhardt, an intellectual associated with Die Freien. They divorced in 1846. The Ego and Its Own was dedicated "to my sweetheart Marie Dähnhardt". Marie later converted to Catholicism and died in 1902 in London.
Stirner worked as a schoolteacher in a school for young girls owned by Madame Gropius when he wrote his major work, The Ego and Its Own, which in part is a polemic against the leading Young Hegelians Ludwig Feuerbach and Bruno Bauer, but also against communists such as Wilhelm Weitling and the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. He resigned from his teaching position in anticipation of the controversy arising from his major work's publication in October 1844.
The most-often reproduced portrait of Stirner is a cartoon by Engels, drawn 40 years later from memory at the request of Stirner's biographer, John Henry Mackay. It is unclear whether this and the group sketch of Die Freien at Hippel's are the only first hand images of Stirner, although it is highly likely.
Frequently the debates would take place at Hippel's, a wine bar in Friedrichstraße, attended by, among others, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (who were both adherents of Feuerbach at the time). Stirner met with Engels many times and Engels even recalled that they were "great friends", but it is still unclear whether Marx and Stirner ever met. It does not appear that Stirner contributed much to the discussions but was a faithful member of the club and an attentive listener.
While in Berlin in 1841, Stirner participated in discussions with a group of young philosophers called "Die Freien" ("The Free"), and whom historians have subsequently categorized as the Young Hegelians. Some of the best known names in 19th century literature and philosophy were involved with this discussion group, including Bruno Bauer, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Arnold Ruge. Contrary to popular belief, Feuerbach was not a member of Die Freien, although he was heavily involved in Young Hegelian discourse. While some of the Young Hegelians were eager subscribers to Hegel's dialectical method, and attempted to apply dialectical approaches to Hegel's conclusions, the left-wing members of the group broke with Hegel. Feuerbach and Bauer led this charge.
Stirner returned to Berlin and obtained a teaching certificate, but was unable to obtain a full-time teaching post from the Prussian government.
.Ludwig Feuerbach, which he attended at the same time as University of Erlangen He attended Hegel's lectures on the history of philosophy, the philosophy of religion and the subjective spirit. Stirner then moved to the