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The Ego and His Own: The Case of the Individual Against Authority

Max Stirner (Autor), Steven T. Byington (Translator)

Buy this book at Amazon.com or try Amazon.co.uk in England, Amazon.ca in Canada, Amazon.de in Germany, Amazon.fr in France, Amazon.it in Italy, Amazon.es in Spain. ASIN=048644581X, Category: Philosophy, Language: E, cover: HC, pages: 400, year: 1845(2005).

Online at gutenberg.org

[Some quotes selected by IBS:]

- we will still go along a bit of road together, till perhaps you too turn your back on me because I laugh in your face.

[...]

"Spirits exist!" Look about in the world, and say for yourself whether a spirit does not gaze upon you out of everything. Out of the lovely little flower there speaks to you the spirit of the Creator, who has shaped it so wonderfully; the stars proclaim the spirit that established their order; from the mountain-tops a spirit of sublimity breathes down; out of the waters a spirit of yearning murmurs up; and—out of men millions of spirits speak. The mountains may sink, the flowers fade, the world of stars fall in ruins, the men die—what matters the wreck of these visible bodies? The spirit, the "invisible spirit," abides eternally!

Yes, the whole world is haunted! Only is haunted? Nay, it itself "walks," it is uncanny through and through, it is the wandering seeming-body of a spirit, it is a spook. What else should a ghost be, then, than an apparent body, but real spirit? Well, the world is "empty," is "naught," is only glamorous "semblance"; its truth is the spirit alone; it is the seeming-body of a spirit.

[...]

What haunts the universe, and has its occult, "incomprehensible" being there, is precisely the mysterious spook that we call highest essence. And to get to the bottom of this spook, to comprehend it, to discover reality in it (to prove "the existence of God")—this task men set to themselves for thousands of years; with the horrible impossibility, the endless Danaid-labor, of transforming the spook into a non-spook, the unreal into something real, the spirit into an entire and corporeal person, —with this they tormented themselves to death. Behind the existing world they sought the "thing in itself," the essence; behind the thing they sought the un-thing.

[...]

The Catholic finds himself satisfied when he fulfils the command; the Protestant acts according to his "best judgment and conscience." For the Catholic is only a layman; the Protestant is himself a clergyman [Geistlicher, literally "spiritual man."]. Just this is the progress of the Reformation period beyond the Middle Ages, and at the same time its curse,—that the spiritual became complete.

What else was the Jesuit moral philosophy than a continuation of the sale of indulgences?

[...]

"Money governs the world" is the keynote of the civic epoch. A destitute aristocrat and a destitute laborer, as "starvelings," amount to nothing so far as political consideration is concerned; birth and labor do not do it, but money brings consideration. The possessors rule, but the State trains up from the destitute its "servants," to whom, in proportion as they are to rule (govern) in its name, it gives money (a salary).

I receive everything from the State. Have I anything without the State's assent? What I have without this it takes from me as soon as it discovers the lack of a "legal title." Do I not, therefore, have everything through its grace, its assent?

On this alone, on the legal title, the commonalty rests. The commoner is what he is through the protection of the State, through the State's grace. He would necessarily be afraid of losing everything if the State's power were broken.

But how is it with him who has nothing to lose, how with the proletarian? As he has nothing to lose, he does not need the protection of the State for his "nothing." He may gain, on the contrary, if that protection of the State is withdrawn from the protégé.

Therefore the non-possessor will regard the State as a power protecting the possessor, which privileges the latter, but does nothing for him, the non-possessor, but to—suck his blood. The State is a—commoners' State, is the estate of the commonalty. It protects man not according to his labor, but according to his tractableness ("loyalty"),—to wit, according to whether the rights entrusted to him by the State are enjoyed and managed in accordance with the will, i. e. laws, of the State.

[... the end of the book:]

The ideal "Man" is realized when the Christian apprehension turns about and becomes the proposition, "I, this unique one, am man." The conceptual question, "what is man?"—has then changed into the personal question, "who is man?" With "what" the concept was sought for, in order to realize it; with "who" it is no longer any question at all, but the answer is personally on hand at once in the asker: the question answers itself.

They say of God, "Names name thee not." That holds good of me: no concept expresses me, nothing that is designated as my essence exhausts me; they are only names. Likewise they say of God that he is perfect and has no calling to strive after perfection. That too holds good of me alone.

I am owner of my might, and I am so when I know myself as unique. In the unique one the owner himself returns into his creative nothing, out of which he is born. Every higher essence above me, be it God, be it man, weakens the feeling of my uniqueness, and pales only before the sun of this consciousness. If I concern myself for myself [Stell' Ich auf Mich meine Sache. Literally, "if I set my affair on myself."], the unique one, then my concern rests on its transitory, mortal creator, who consumes himself, and I may say:

All things are nothing to me. ["Ich hab' Mein' Sach' auf Nichts gestellt." Literally, "I have set my affair on nothing."]