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The Ego and His Own: Case of the Individual Against Authority Paperback – March 25, 1974


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc. (March 25, 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486228975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486228976
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,097,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a most intriguing and quirky work; many will probably find it repellant. It may well be that this volume is the reason that Marx and Engels wrote "The German Ideology"; it may be that Stirner's magnum opus led to Marx fundamentally changing his philosophical perspective from more idealistic to materialistic. Nonetheless, it is a work that gets one's mind to working as one responds to the arguments being advanced. That alone makes this an interesting book to explore.

Max Stirner (born Johan Kaspar Schmidt) is one of the more interesting figures in 19th century political thought. The turgid prose of his one major work, "The Ego and His Own," stretches for several hundred pages and can be a formidable barrier to the reader. Stirner posits something like a war of each against all as the proper way of life and the proper way of allocating scarce resources. This competition with others is natural and ubiquitous. Stirner says: ". . .the egoistic man, who deals with things and thoughts according to his heart's pleasure. . .sets his personal interest above everything."

One major obstacle in the way of an individual's egoism is the existence of "spook notions" and coercive agencies, such as the state. "Spook notions" are concepts viewed as superior to the individual, largely due to dominant values of a society inculcated into the individual; these concepts subsequently become reified. Among examples that he adduces: truth, right, chastity, the law, the good cause, the state, mankind, love, duty, obligation. In each case, people will come to accept these concepts as absolutes and then subordinate their own behavior to these reifications. Stirner contends, to the contrary, that humans should not allow themselves to become subjects to such "spook notions.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Crawford on December 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Ego And His Own would be more properly titled The Unique And Its Property. Like a lot of German Philosophy books, the English translation does not do it justice.

Even though this book was written when Nietzsche was a child, Stirner goes far beyond anything Nietzsche could dream of. This may be the most underrated book in history. People are only now beginning to appreciate it.

The Ego And His Own destroys the foundations for the authority of the modern Secular State. The most important thing to remember when reading is Stirner never used the word "ego" himself. When he speaks of the "I" he means his non-reified, uniquely lived experience.

He brilliantly makes the case that one's interests are their own, and can only be their own regardless of what religious or secular authoritarians (including modern day Leftists like Noam Chomsky & Micheal Albert) say.

This book will go over most people's heads, but for those who can appreciate it, it is worth far more than its weight in gold.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ferdino on October 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book must be of one the most underappreciated masterpieces in Western Philosophy. If Nietzsche, with his celebration of the individual triumph over fate and society, is a packet of sugar, then Max Stirner is the very nectar, an unadulterated source. Here is a short quote that captures the essence of Stirner’s individualistic philosophy: “What, am I in the world to realize ideas? To do my part by my citizenship …? What does such a calling concern me! I live after a calling as little as the flower grows and gives fragrance after a calling?” I read it as, Don’t make out of me a tool or a means of an ideology! Stirner essentially rebels against the notion that a human being has a mission in life that is higher than being a human being. Higher callings – whether by religion or humanism are in fact inimical to the realization of our one and only true “calling”: to be ourselves. As he puts it: “No concept expresses me … All things are nothing to me!” Similarities thus between Stirner and Kierkegaard, who came later after and against Hegel, are salient here … The individual is the more primal and supreme one vis-à-vis the system. Another important connection is to Kant, who had built a whole new brand of ethics predicated on the individual being an end-in-itself versus a means for a larger scheme. So Max Stirner’s philosophy is one of the missing pieces in the grand Western idea of individual freedom at a very fundamental level.
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