The Ego and its Own — The case of the individual against authority


Part First: MAN

I. A human life

II.Men of the old time and the new

    A. The ancients

    B. The moderns

          1. The spirit

          2. The possessed

          3.  The Hierarchy

    C. The free

          1. Political liberalism

          2. Social liberalism

          3. Humane liberalism



Part Second: I

IV. The Owner

    A. My power

    B. My intercourse

    C. My self-enjoyement

V. The unique one


The Ego And Its Own throws down a challenge to thousands of years of religious, philosophical and political depreciation of the individual.

Criticising all doctrines and beliefs that demand the interests of the individual be subordinated to those of God, state, humanity, society, or some other fiction, Stirner declared war on all creeds that threatened individuality. In doing so, he championed a form of amoral egoism which still provokes cries of horror from moralists of right and left, religious and secular.

But, The Ego and Its Own is is far from being simply the work of a selfish nihilist. Neither is Stirner to be dismissed as an intellectual imbecile — as Marx and Engels tried to claim in their well-known attack on his philosophy The German Ideology. For, in his searing critique, Stirner demonstrates that the traditional moralities crippled individuals and failed to achieve the positive results they invariably claimed. And for the new moralities propounded by Marx, and others of his contempraries, Stirner was certain they would subject individuals to a set of masters worse than the ones they replaced.

To his twentieth (and now twenty first!) century readers, Stirner’s book offers not just a historical document, or a slice of intellectual debate of the mid-nineteenth century. As a passionate defense of the individual against all form of authority, it has a particular resonance for all those who belong to the ‘age of the masses’.

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