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Johann Kaspar Schmidt

Max Stirner, as portrayed by Friedrich Engels
Full name Johann Kaspar Schmidt
Born October 25, 1806
Bayreuth, Bavaria
Died June 26, 1856 (aged 49)
Berlin, Prussia
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Categorised historically as a Young Hegelian. Precursor to Existentialism, individualist feminism, Nihilism, Individualist anarchism, Post-Modernism, Post-structuralism.
Main interests Ethics, Politics, Property, Value theory
Notable ideas Egoist anarchism

Johann Kaspar Schmidt (October 25, 1806 – June 26, 1856), better known as Max Stirner (the nom de plume he adopted from a schoolyard nickname he had acquired as a child because of his high brow, in German 'Stirn'), was a German philosopher, who ranks as one of the literary fathers of nihilism, existentialism, post-modernism 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 Only One and his Property). This work was first published in 1844 in Leipzig, and has since appeared in numerous editions and translations.

Contents

Biography

Max Stirner's birthplace in Bayreuth

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 the April 19, 1807 at the age of 37.[2] 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 University of Berlin,[2] where he studied Philology, Philosophy and Theology. He attended the lectures of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who was to become a source of inspiration for his thinking.[3] 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 members of this discussion group, including Bruno Bauer, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Arnold Ruge. 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.

Frequently the debates would take place at Hippel's, a wine bar in Friedrichstraße, attended by, among others, the young Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, at that time still adherents of Feuerbach. Stirner met Engels many times and Engels even recalled that they were "great friends",[4] 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.[5]

Cover of Max Stirner - His Life and Work (English translation) by John Henry Mackay.

The most-often reproduced portrait of Stirner is a cartoon by Engels, drawn 40 years later from memory on the request of Stirner's biographer, John Henry Mackay.

Stirner worked as a schoolteacher in a gymnasium for young girls owned by Madame Gropius [6] 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.

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 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.

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.

Philosophy

Caricature of Max Stirner taken from a sketch by Friedrich Engels (1820 - 1895) of the meetings of "Die Freien".

Stirner's claim that the state is an illegitimate institution has made him an influence upon the anarchist tradition; his thought is often seen as a form of individualist anarchism. Stirner however does not identify himself as an anarchist, and includes anarchists among the parties subject to his criticism.

Stirner mocks revolution in the traditional sense as tacitly statist. David Leopold's conclusion (in his introduction to the Cambridge University Press edition) is that Stirner "...saw humankind as 'fretted in dark superstition' but denied that he sought their enlightenment and welfare" (Ibidem, p. xxxii).

As with the Classical Skeptics, Stirner's method of self-liberation is opposed to faith or belief; life is free from "dogmatic presuppositions" [7] or any "fixed standpoint".[8] It is not merely Christian dogma but also a variety of European atheist ideologies that are condemned as crypto-Christian for putting ideas in an equivalent role.

What Stirner proposes is not that concepts should rule people, but that people should rule concepts. The denial of absolute truth is rooted in Stirner's the "nothingness" of the self. Stirner presents a detached life of non-dogmatic, open-minded engagement with the world "as it is" (unpolluted by "faith", Christian or humanist), coupled with the awareness that there is no soul, no personal essence of any kind.

Because I cannot grasp the moon, is it therefore sacred to me, an Astarte? If I could only grasp you, I surely would, and, if I could only find a means to get up to you, you shall not frighten me! You inapprehensible one, you shall remain inapprehensible to me only until I have acquired the might for apprehension and call you my own; I do not give myself up before you, but only bide my time. Even if for the present I put up with my inability to touch you, I yet remember it against you.

Max Stirner, The Ego and Its Own

Hegel's influence

Scholars such as Karl Löwith and Lawrence Stepelevich have argued that Hegel was a major influence on The Ego and Its Own.[citation needed] 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.

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[citation needed]. 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."

Works

The False Principle of our Education

In 1842 Das unwahre Prinzip unserer Erziehung (The False Principle of our Education) or Humanism and Realism, was published in Rheinische Zeitung, which was edited by Marx at the time.[9] 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 is fulfilled in aiding the individual in becoming an individual.

Art and Religion

Art and Religion was also Published in Rheinische Zeitung in 1842 while Marx was editor. It addresses Bauer and his publication against Hegel called Hegel's doctrine of religion and art judged from the standpoint of faith.

The Ego and Its Own

Stirner's main work is The Ego and Its Own (org. 'Der Einzige und sein Eigentum'; according to the contemporary German spelling 'Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum'), which appeared in Leipzig in 1845, with as year of publication mentioned "1844". 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 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 argument explores and extends the limits of Hegelian criticism, aiming his critique especially at those of his contemporaries, particularly Ludwig Feuerbach. And popular ideologies, including nationalism, statism, liberalism, socialism, communism and humanism.

In the time of spirits thoughts grew till they overtopped my head, whose offspring they yet were; they hovered about me and convulsed me like fever-phantasies — an awful power. The thoughts had become corporeal on their own account, were ghosts, e. g. God, Emperor, Pope, Fatherland, etc. If I destroy their corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say: "I alone am corporeal." And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my property; I refer all to myself.

Max Stirner, The Ego and Its Own, p 15.

Stirner's Critics

Recensenten Stirners (Stirner's Critics) was published in September 1845 in Wigands Vierteljahrsschrift. It is a response to three critical reviews of The Ego and its Own by Moses Hess in Die letzten Philosophen (The Last Philosophers), by a certain "Szeliga" in an article in the journal Norddeutsche Blätter, and by 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.

History of Reaction

Geschichte der Reaction (History of Reaction) was published in two volumes in 1851 by Allgemeine Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt and immediately banned in Austria.[2] 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.

Critical reception

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.

While The German Ideology 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.

Influence

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.[10] 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.[10] Edmund Husserl once warned a small audience about the "seducing power" of Der Einzige, but never mentioned it in his writing.[11] 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.[12]

Many thinkers have read, and been affected by The Ego and Its Own in their youth including Rudolf Steiner, Gustav Landauer, Victor Serge[13], Carl Schmitt and Jürgen Habermas. Few openly admit any influence on their own thinking.[14] Ernst Jünger's book Eumeswil, had the character of the "Anarch", based on Stirner's "Einzige." [15] Several other authors, philosophers and artists have cited, quoted or otherwise referred to Max Stirner. They include Albert Camus in The Rebel (the section on Stirner is omitted from the majority of English editions including Penguin's), Benjamin Tucker, James Huneker,[16] Dora Marsden, Renzo Novatore, Emma Goldman,[17] Georg Brandes, John Cowper Powys,[18] Martin Buber, [19],Sidney Hook[20], Robert Anton Wilson, Italian individualist anarchist Frank Brand, Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand,[21] the notorious antiartist Marcel Duchamp, several writers of the Situationist International, and Max Ernst, who titled a 1925 painting L'unique et sa propriété. 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.[22]

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

Caricature by Friedrich Engels (1820 - 1895) of the meetings of "Die Freien"

Engels commented on Stirner in poetry at the time of Die Freien:

Look at Stirner, look at him, the peaceful enemy of all constraint.
For the moment, he is still drinking beer,
Soon he will be drinking blood as though it were water.
When others cry savagely "down with the kings"
Stirner immediately supplements "down with the laws also."
Stirner full of dignity proclaims;
You bend your willpower and you dare to call yourselves free.
You become accustomed to slavery
Down with dogmatism, down with law.[23]

He once even recalled at how they were "great friends (Duzbrüder)".[4] 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".[4] To begin with Engels was enthusiastic about the book, and expressed his opinions freely in letters to Marx:

But what is true in his principle, we, too, must accept. And what is true is that before we can be active in any cause we must make it our own, egoistic cause-and that in this sense, quite aside from any material expectations, we are communists in virtue of our egoism, that out of egoism we want to be human beings and not merely individuals."[24]

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 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".[25] 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.

Stirner and post-structuralism

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, 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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] Recently a biographical discovery made it 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.[30]

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.[31] 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."[32]

Nevertheless, from the very beginning of what was characterized as "great debate"[33] regarding Stirner's possible positive influence on Nietzsche, serious problems with the idea were noted.[34] 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.[35]

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.[36] 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.[37]

Rudolf Steiner

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.[38]

Anarchism

Stirner´s philosophy is important in anarchism. Usually Stirner within anarchism is associated with individualist anarchism but he found admiration in mainstream social anarchists such as anarcha-feminists Emma Goldman and Federica Montseny (both also admired Friedrich Nietzsche). 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 american individualist anarchism he found adherence in Benjamin Tucker and his magazine Liberty while these abandoned natural rights positions for egoism[39]. "Several periodicals were undoubtedly influenced by Liberty's presentation of egoism. They included: I published by C.L. Swartz, edited by W.E. Gordak and J.W. Lloyd (all associates of Liberty); The Ego and The Egoist, both of which were edited by Edward H. Fulton. Among the egoist papers that Tucker followed were the German Der Eigene, edited by Adolf Brand, and The Eagle and The Serpent, issued from London. The latter, the most prominent English-language egoist journal, was published from 1898 to 1900 with the subtitle "A Journal of Egoistic Philosophy and Sociology""[39]. Other american egoist anarchists around the early 20th century include James L. Walker, George Schumm and John Beverley Robinson, Steven T. Byington and E.H. Fulton[39].

In the United Kingdom Herbert Read was influenced by Stirner. 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."[40] 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[41].

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[42]. 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"[43]

Comments by contemporaries

Twenty years after the appearance of Stirner's book, the author Friedrich Albert Lange wrote the following:

Stirner went so far in his notorious work, 'Der Einzige und Sein Eigenthum' (1845), as to reject all moral ideas. Everything that in any way, whether it be external force, belief, or mere idea, places itself above the individual and his caprice, Stirner rejects as a hateful limitation of himself. What a pity that to this book — the extremest that we know anywhere — a second positive part was not added. It would have been easier than in the case of Schelling's philosophy; for out of the unlimited Ego I can again beget every kind of Idealism as my will and my idea. Stirner lays so much stress upon the will, in fact, that it appears as the root force of human nature. It may remind us of Schopenhauer.

History of Materialism, ii. 256 (1865)

Some people think that, in a sense, a "second positive part" was soon to be added, though not by Stirner, but by Friedrich Nietzsche. The relationship between Nietzsche and Stirner seems to be much more complicated.[44] According to George J. Stack's Lange and Nietzsche[45], Nietzsche read Lange's History of Materialism "again and again" and was therefore very familiar with the passage regarding Stirner.

Notes

  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, volume 8, The Macmillan Company and The Free Press, New York 1967.
  2. ^ a b c John Henry Mackay: Max Stirner -- Sein Leben und sein Werk p.28
  3. ^ The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, volume 8, The Macmillan Company and The Free Press, New York 1967.
  4. ^ a b c Lawrence L Stepelevich, The revival of Max Stirner
  5. ^ Gide, Charles & Rist, Charles. A History of Economic Doctrines from the Time of the Physiocrats to the Present Day. Harrap 1956, p. 612
  6. ^ The Encyclopedia of Philsosophy, volume 8, The Macmillan Company and The Free Press, New York 1967
  7. ^ p. 135, 309
  8. ^ p. 295
  9. ^ Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, The Macmillan company Press, New York, 1967
  10. ^ a b "Max Stirner" article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  11. ^ Max Stirner, a durable dissident - in a nutshell
  12. ^ Quoted in Read's book, "The Contrary Experience", Faber and Faber, 1963.
  13. ^ See Memoirs of a revolutionary, 1901-1941 by Victor Serge. Publisher Oxford U.P., 1967
  14. ^ See Bernd A. Laska: Ein dauerhafter Dissident. Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag 1996 (online)
  15. ^ See Bernd A. Laska: Katechon und Anarch. Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag 1997 (online)
  16. ^ Huneker's book Egoists, a Book of Supermen (1909)contains an essay on Stirner.
  17. ^ See Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, p. 50.
  18. ^ World of books - Telegraph
  19. ^ Between Man and Man by Martin Buber,Beacon Press, 1955.
  20. ^ From Hegel to Marx by Sidney Hook, London, 1936.
  21. ^ See Letters of Ayn Rand, pg. 176, Dutton, 1995.
  22. ^ David Goodway, Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow, Liverpool University Press, 2006 (pg.75).
  23. ^ Henri Arvon, Aux sources de 1'existentialisme Max Stirner (Paris, 1954), p. 14
  24. ^ Zwischen 18 and 25, pp. 237-238.
  25. ^ I. Berlin, Karl Marx (New York, 1963), 143.
  26. ^ 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
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "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
  29. ^ Albert Levy, Stirner and Nietzsche, Paris, 1904
  30. ^ Bernd A. Laska: Nietzsche's initial crisis. In: Germanic Notes and Reviews, vol. 33, n. 2, fall/Herbst 2002, pp. 109-133
  31. ^ 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
  32. ^ 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
  33. ^ [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
  34. ^ Levy pointed out in 1904 that the similarities in the writing of the two men appeared superficial. Albert Levy, Stirner and Nietzsche, Paris, 1904
  35. ^ R.A. Nicholls, "Beginnings of the Nietzsche Vogue in Germany", in Modern Philology, Vol. 56, No. 1, Aug., 1958, pp. 24-37
  36. ^ "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
  37. ^ "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)
  38. ^ Guido Giacomo Preparata, "Perishable Money in a Threefold Commenwealth: Rudolf Steiner and the Social Economics of an Anarchist Utopia". Review of Radical Economics 38/4 (Fall 2006). Pp. 619-648
  39. ^ a b c "Only the influence of the German philosopher of egoism, Max Stirner (nè 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"
  40. ^ Daniel Guérin,Anarchism: From Theory to Practice
  41. ^ Four Ourselves, The Right To Be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything
  42. ^ "What is Ideology?" by Jason McQuinn
  43. ^ BONANNO, Alfredo Maria
  44. ^ See Bernd A. Laska: Nietzsche's initial crisis. In: Germanic Notes and Reviews, vol. 33, n. 2, fall/Herbst 2002, pp. 109-133
  45. ^ George J. Stack, Lange and Nietzsche, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, 1983, p. 12, ISBN 3-11-00866-5

See also

References

  • 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

Further reading

  • Max Stirners '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
  • Arvon, Henri, Aux Sources de l'existentialisme, Paris: P.U.F. 1954
  • De Ridder, Widukind, "Max Stirner, Hegel and the Young Hegelians: A reassessment". In: History of European Ideas, 2008, 285-297.
  • 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).
  • Newman, Saul, Power and Politics in Poststructural Thought. London and New York: Routledge 2005
  • 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
  • Paterson, R.W.K., The Nihilistic Egoist: Max Stirner, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1971

External links

General

Relationship with other philosophers

Texts


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I say: liberate yourself as far as you can, and you have done your part; for it is not given to every one to break through all limits, or, more expressively, not to everyone is that a limit which is a limit for the rest.

Johann Kaspar Schmidt (25 October 180626 June 1856), better known as Max Stirner (the nom de plume he adopted from a schoolyard nickname he had acquired as a child because of his high brow [Stirn]), German philosopher, who ranks as one of the literary grandfathers of nihilism, existentialism and anarchism, especially of individualist anarchism.

Contents

Sourced

  • The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual, crime.
    • As quoted in The Great Quotations (1960) by George Seldes, p. 664
  • Whoever will be free must make himself free. Freedom is no fairy gift to fall into a man's lap. What is freedom? To have the will to be responsible for one's self.
    • As quoted in Forbes v. 78 - (1956), and in Lifetime Speaker's Encyclopedia (1962) by Jacob Morton Braude, p. 275

The Ego and Its Own (1844)

  • What is not supposed to be my concern! First and foremost, the Good Cause, then God's cause, the cause of mankind, of truth, of freedom, of humanity, of justice; further, the cause of my people, my prince, my fatherland; finally, even the cause of Mind, and a thousand other causes. Only my cause is never to be my concern. "Shame on the egoist who thinks only of himself!"
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 5
  • I have no need to take up each thing that wants to throw its cause on us and show that it is occupied only with itself, not with us, only with its good, not with ours. Look at the rest for yourselves. Do truth, freedom, humanity, justice, desire anything else than that you grow enthusiastic and serve them?
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 6
  • The divine is God's concern; the human, man's. My concern is neither the divine nor the human, not the true, good, just, free, etc., but solely what is mine, and it is not a general one, but is -- unique, as I am unique. Nothing is more to me than myself!
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 7
  • Man, your head is haunted; you have wheels in your head! You imagine great things, and depict to yourself a whole world of gods that has an existence for you, a spirit-realm to which you suppose yourself to be called, an ideal that beckons to you. You have a fixed idea! Do not think that I am jesting or speaking figuratively when I regard those persons who cling to the Higher, and (because the vast majority belongs under this head) almost the whole world of men, as veritable fools, fools in a madhouse. What is it, then, that is called a "fixed idea"? An idea that has subjected the man to itself. When you recognize, with regard to such a fixed idea, that it is a folly, you shut its slave up in an asylum. And is the truth of the faith, say, which we are not to doubt; the majesty of (e. g.) the people, which we are not to strike at (he who does is guilty of -- lese-majesty); virtue, against which the censor is not to let a word pass, that morality may be kept pure; -- are these not "fixed ideas"? Is not all the stupid chatter of (e. g.) most of our newspapers the babble of fools who suffer from the fixed idea of morality, legality, Christianity, etc., and only seem to go about free because the madhouse in which they walk takes in so broad a space?
    • New York 1907, p. 54, 55
  • Now, on the contrary, when every one is to cultivate himself into man, condemning a man to machine-like labor amounts to the same thing as slavery. If a factory-worker must tire himself to death twelve hours and more, he is cut off from becoming man. Every labor is to have the intent that the man be satisfied. [...] His labor is nothing taken by itself, has no object in itself, is nothing complete in itself; he labors only into another's hands, and is used (exploited) by this other.
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 108
  • The habit of the religious way of thinking has biased our mind so grievously that we are -- terrified at ourselves in our nakedness and naturalness; it has degraded us so that we deem ourselves depraved by nature, born devils.
    • Dover 2005, p. 162
  • Now why, if freedom is striven after for love of the I after all -- why not choose the I himself as beginning, middle, and end?
    • Dover 2005, p. 163
  • "Freedom" awakens your rage against everything that is not you; "egoism" calls you to joy over yourselves, to self-enjoyment.
    • Dover 2005, p. 163
  • Whether nature gives me a right, or whether God, the people's choice, etc., does so, all of that is the same foreign right, a right that I do not give or take to myself. Thus the Communists say, equal labour entitles man to equal enjoyment. [...] No, equal labour does not entitle you to it, but equal enjoyment alone entitles you to equal enjoyment. Enjoy, then you are entitled to enjoyment. But, if you have laboured and let the enjoyment be taken from you, then – ‘it serves you right.’ If you take the enjoyment, it is your right; if, on the contrary, you only pine for it without laying hands on it, it remains as before, a, ‘well-earned right’ of those who are privileged for enjoyment. It is their right, as by laying hands on it would become your right.
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 170, 171
  • Man with the great M is only an ideal, the species only something thought of.
    • Dover 2005, p. 182
  • It would be foolish to assert that there is no power above mine. Only the attitude that I take toward it will be quite another than that of the religious age: I shall be the enemy of every higher power, while religion teaches us to make it our friend and be humble toward it.
    • Dover 2005, p. 184
  • I say: liberate yourself as far as you can, and you have done your part; for it is not given to every one to break through all limits, or, more expressively, not to everyone is that a limit which is a limit for the rest. Consequently, do not tire yourself with toiling at the limits of others; enough if you tear down yours. [...] He who overturns one of his limits may have shown others the way and the means; the overturning of their limits remains their affair.
    • New York 1907, p. 187
  • Liberty of the people is not my liberty!
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 190
  • Everything sacred is a tie, a fetter.
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 192
  • But let the individual man lay claim to ever so many rights because Man or the concept man ‘entitles’ him to them, because his being man does it: what do I care for his right and his claim? If he has his right only from Man and does not have it from me, then for me he has no right. His life, for example, counts to me only for what it is worth to me. I respect neither a so-called right of property (or his claim to tangible goods) nor yet his right to the ‘sanctuary of his inner nature’ (or his right to have the spiritual goods and divinities, his gods, remain un-aggrieved). His goods, the sensuous as well as the spiritual, are mine, and I dispose of them as proprietor, in the measure of my -- might.
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 219

Italic text

  • What matters the party to me? I shall find enough anyhow who unite with me without swearing allegiance to my flag.
    • Dover 2005, p. 236
  • One is not worthy to have what one, through weakness, lets be taken from him; one is not worthy of it because one is not capable of it.
    • Cambridge 1995, p. 237
  • People is the name of the body, State of the spirit, of that ruling person that has hitherto suppressed me.
    • Dover 2005, p. 242
  • Where the world comes in my way -- and it comes in my way everywhere -- I consume it to quiet the hunger of my egoism. For me you are nothing but -- my food, even as I too am fed upon and turned to use by you. We have only one relation to each other, that of usableness, of utility, of use.
    • Dover 2005, p. 296, 297

The False Principle of our Education (1842)

  • Because our time is struggling toward the word with which it may express its spirit, many names come to the fore and all make claim to being the right one. [...] Without our assistance, time will not bring the right word to light; we must all work together on it. If, however, so much depends on us, we may reasonably ask what they have made of us and what they propose to make of us; we ask about the education through which they seek to make us creators of that word. Do they conscientiously cultivate our predisposition to become creators or do they treat us only as creatures whose nature simply permits training? [...] Therefore we are concerned above all with what they make of us in the time of our plasticity; the school question is a life question.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 11
  • Apart from any other basis which might justify a superiority, education, as a power, raised him who possessed it over the weak, who lacked it, and the educated man counted in his circle, however large or small it was, as the mighty, the powerful, the imposing one: for he was an authority.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 12
  • Do we want to put pedagogy into the hands of the philosophers? Nothing less than that! They would behave themselves awkwardly enough. It shall be entrusted only to those who are more than philosophers, who are in that respect more even than humanists or realists.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 19
  • Yes, so it is that knowledge itself must die in order to blossom forth again in death as will; the freedom of thought, belief, and conscience, these wonderful flowers of three centuries will sink back into the lap of mother earth so that a new freedom, the freedom will, will be nourished with its most noble juices.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 19
  • The will is not fundamentally right, as the practical ones would like very much to assure us; one may not pass over the desire for knowledge in order to stand immediately in the will, but knowledge perfects itself to will when it desensualizes itself and creates itself as a spirit "which builds its own body."
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 21
  • If it is the drive of our time, after freedom of thought is won, to pursue it to that perfection through which it changes to freedom of the will in order to realize the latter as the principle of a new era, then the final goal of education can no longer be knowledge, but the will born out of knowledge, and the spoken expression of that for which it has to strive is: the personal or free man. Truth consists in nothing other than man's revelation of himself, and thereto belongs the discovery of himself, the liberation from all that is alien, the uttermost abstraction or release from all authority, the re-won naturalness. Such thoroughly true men are not supplied by school; if they are there, they are there in spite of school.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 21
  • It is truly not the merit of the school if we do not come out selfish. Each sort of corresponding pride and every wind of covetousness, eagerness for office, mechanical and servile officiousness, hypocrisy, etc., is bound as much with extensive knowledge as with elegant, classical education, and since this whole instruction exercises no influence of any sort on our ethical behavior, it thus frequently falls to the fate of being forgotten in the same measure as it is not used: one shakes off the dust of the school.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 22
  • On the contrary, to educate rational people, that should be sufficient; it is not really intended for sensible people; to understand things and conditions, there is the matter ended,-to understand oneself does not seem to be everyman's concern.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 22
  • In the pedagogical as in certain other spheres freedom is not allowed to erupt, the power of the opposition is not allowed to put a word in edgewise: they want submissiveness. Only a formal and material training is being aimed at and only scholars come out of the menageries of the humanists, only "useful citizens" out of those of the realists, both of whom are indeed nothing but subservient people. Our good background of recalcitrancy [sic] gets strongly suppressed and with it the development of knowledge to free will. The result of school is then philistinism.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 23
  • If man puts his honor first in relying upon himself, knowing himself and applying himself, this in self-reliance, self-assertion, and freedom, he then strives to rid himself of the ignorance which makes a strange impenetrable object a barrier and a hindrance to his self-knowledge.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 23
  • If one awakens in men the idea of freedom then the free men will incessantly go on to free themselves; if on the contrary, one only educates them, then they will at all times accommodate themselves to circumstance in the most highly educated and elegant manner and degenerate into subservient cringing souls.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 23
  • Thus the radii of all education run together into one center which is called personality.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 25
  • The difficulty in our education up till now lies, for the most part, in the fact that knowledge did not refine itself into will, to application of itself, to pure practice. The realists felt the need and supplied it, though in a most miserable way, by cultivating idea-less and fettered "practical men." Most college students are living examples of this sad turn of events. Trained in the most excellent manner, they go on training; drilled they continue drilling.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 25
  • [...] then the necessary decline of non-voluntary learning and rise of the self-assured will which perfects itself in the glorious sunlight of the free person may be somewhat expressed as follows: knowledge must die and rise again as will and create itself anew each day as a free person.
    • Ralph Myles 1967, pp. 28

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