Max Stirner is a young Hegelian egoist philosopher known for his 1844 book The Ego and Its Own, arguing that individuals have no reason to uphold any ideal outside of their unique ego. His thought has largely been ignored by western philosophy, yet is recognized by many anarchists to be fundamental to their tradition, and has maintained a cult following among rebellious thinkers. Karl Marx critiqued his book in The German Ideology as part of his first attempt to formulate methodological materialism.
Spooks, geists or specters (All of these are alternative names for the same idea) are ideas that do not serve the ego. Often they behave as if they were competing egos, making demands of you that go against your personal interests. An idea such as god is defined by Stirner; as a "fixed idea", a dogma that doesn't reorient when reality changes. A fixed idea when fused with various state institutions (i.e churches) results in what is called a spook.
The Unique One
The Unique One (der Einzige) is the title Stirner bestows on the Ego. It is unique because it defies any fixed categorization, and following from this, since it cannot be subsumed under any greater whole, it also has to be singular.
Egoist unions are briefly introduced by Stirner to explain that a society of egoists is not necessarily a highly contentious society. Egoists will naturally unite if this serves both of their unique interests at that moment. These unions are fleeting, existing only as long as it pleases their participants, and thus demanding no deeper loyalty of them.
Marx's critique of Stirner
Marx's critique of The Ego and Its Own was never published during his lifetime. For this reason it shouldn't be read as his final verdict on the book.
Stirner as an anarchist
Stirner and post-structuralism
Translated texts by Stirner:
- "You Only Have the Courage to be Destructive" (1841) on The Anarchist Library
- "The False Principle of our Education" (1842) on The Anarchist Library
- "Art and Religion" (1842) on The Anarchist Library
- The Ego and Its Own (1844) on Marxists.org
- Stirner's Critics (1845) on The Anarchist Library
- "The Philosophical Reactionaries" (1847) on The Anarchist Library
Texts on Stirner by other authors:
Online resources on Stirner: