Max Stirner

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Stirner, Max


(pen name of Johann Kaspar Schmidt). Born Oct. 25, 1806, in Bayreuth; died June 26, 1856, in Berlin. German Young Hegelian philosopher, ideologist of anarchism.

In his The Ego and His Own (1845), Stirner attempted to promulgate a solipsistic point of view in anthropology, ethics, and law. The theoretical point of departure for Stirner’s world view is his thesis of self-awareness as the creative force of history. Man’s ideals and social traits, according to Stirner, represent something universal, since all personality is the same. Hence everything relating to man in general does not relate to the given ego. The concepts of man, law, morality, and the like were treated by Stirner as “specters,” alienated forms of the individual consciousness. Denying all norms of conduct, Stirner asserted that the original sources of law and morality are the power and the might of the individual personality. The will of the individual establishes the truth of phenomena (”I am the criterion of truth”). Man should seek not social, but his own personal freedom, inasmuch as, according to Stirner, behind every social formation are concealed the egotistical interests of individual persons. Nihilism and anarchism proved to be the general result of Stirner’s views.

During the 1840’s and 1850’s, Stirner enjoyed a certain success among the petit bourgeois intelligentsia, and he exerted some influence on M. A. Bakunin and F. Nietzsche. K. Marx and F. Engels, in their The German Ideology (see Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 3, pp. 103–452), offered a devastating critique of Stirner’s subjective idealism and his petit bourgeois individualism and anarchism; they demonstrated the utter groundlessness of his criticism of communism.


Die Geschichte der Reaktion, parts 1–2. Berlin, 1852.
Der Einzige und sein Eigentum. Stuttgart, 1972.
In Russian translation:
Edinstvennyi i iego dostoianie. Moscow, 1906.


Plekhanov, G. V. “Anarkhizm i sotsializm.” Soch., vol. 4. Moscow, 1925.
Kurchinskii, M. A. Apostol egoizma: Maks Shtirner i ego filosofiia anarkhii. Petrograd, 1920.
Bagaturiia, G. A. “K istorii napisanüa, opublikovaniia i issledovaniia ’Nemetskoi ideologii’ Marksa i Engelsa.” In the collection Iz istorii formirovanüa i razvitiia marksizma. Moscow, 1959.
Oizerman.T. I. Formirovanie filosofii marksizma. Moscow, 1962.
Arvon, H. Aux sources de l’existentialisme M. Stirner. Paris, 1954. (Contains bibliography.)
Emge, K. A. M. Stirner: Eine geistig nicht bewältigte Tendenz. Mainz, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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