Talk:The Ego and Its Own

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"its", surely?, not "Its"? -- Zoe

No, it should be capitalised.

In addition to the rather uninformative above: Stirner uses capitalization as a specific and central stylistic device. Although nouns are capitalized in German, pronouns are normally not, Stirner does this to emphasize the specific manner in which he uses them (the gender of the pronoun is an entirely different problem, as already the title of the book is male in German). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:17, 9 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I've just overhauled the spelling, grammar, and typography of this article, but there's one issue that I can't resolve, as I don't have the book. In the quotation that ends the first section of the article there's an asterisk which doesn't seem to serve any purpose; is it there in error, or is there a reason (which should therefore be explained)? Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:25, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The asterisk should not be there. In the book there is a foot note citing the German word from which "use" was translated. --Stan

Translation of the title[edit]

Neither "The Ego" nor "The Individual" translate "Der Einzige" really properly. "Der Einzige" means "The Single One" or "The Sole One" (German is my native language). Gestumblindi 00:52, 9 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The point, though, is that the title is in fact translated as "Ego" and "Individual". I know nothing of the contents, so can't be sure, but I imagine that the term is being used in a technical sense to mean something best translated in this way. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:31, 10 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No, if Stirner meant "The Ego" or "The Individual", he would have used "Der Einzelne" or even "Das Ich"; you are right in that the English translations use "Ego" or "Individual", it is therefore correct to say so in the article. The translations are described as poor, though (a storied and variegated history of mis-translation ... a few important passages are incomprehensible without recourse to the original German), so it wouldn't me surprise at all if the translators simply interpreted "Der Einzige" wrongly as "Der Einzelne". I think it could be good to add something regarding the fact that the German title has a meaning quite different from the English version to the article. Gestumblindi 01:39, 12 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What makes me dubious is that it's such an obvious mistranslation; I mean, one only has to look in a medium-sized German-English dictionary in order to see the term's usual translation. Mistranslation is one thing, but this would be an egregious error, not likely to be made by a schoolchild with a Langenscheidt to hand. I think that we need some positive reason, based on the contents of the book, in order to draw attention to the supposed mistake. Could it be that mid-nineteenth-century academic German used "der Einzige" in a technical way? After all, people make all sorts of serious mistakes when they read English words like "cause", "perfection", "idea", etc., in historical texts as if they had their modern meanings.

The only material that I've been able to find on my own bookshelves is Woodcock's article in Edwards' The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (vol.8, pp 17-18), and that supports the view that Stirner was talking about the individual and about philosophical egoism. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:47, 12 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Of course Stirner was talking about the individual and about philosophical egoism; the individual, however, should view himself als "The Sole One", "Der Einzige" (I have a German edition here), which is in a way the point of his work, and so he writes in the final chapter: Eigner bin Ich meiner Gewalt, und Ich bin es dann, wenn Ich Mich als Einzigen weiss. Im Einzigen kehrt selbst der Eigner in sein schöpferisches Nichts zurück, aus welchem er geboren wird. (...) Stell' Ich auf Mich, den Einzigen, meine Sache, dann steht sie auf dem Vergänglichen, dem sterblichen Schöpfer seiner, der sich selbst verzehrt, und Ich darf sagen: Ich hab' mein' Sach' auf Nichts gestellt. The italics are original; he clearly makes a point of being "der Einzige", "The Sole One". Also, Adelung's famous 19th century dictionary is using "einzig" already as we know it now. Gestumblindi 23:23, 12 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, I have for now just added: "a literal translation would read The Sole One and His Property"; this leaves the question of whether "The Individual..." is a mis-translation hopefully open enough for those who think it is appropriate. Gestumblindi 21:00, 17 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that this rather misrepresents the notion of language (as though they map on to each other in the manner of codes, so that there's a "literal translation"). As any translator would confirm, a word in one language will be translated into another language in many different ways, according to the context, and there's often room for disagreement. Think, for example, of "Sinn" and "Bedeutung". --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 08:36, 18 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree; there are often many possible translations (and many good ones) of a given word or title. However, I think that "The Ego and Its Own" as well as "The Individual and His Property" are too much interpretations of the original and it is helpful to add one of the possible literal translations of this title. Some degree of interpretation is needed when translating, this I don't deny; I think here of a "literal translation" in the sense of a restrained translation that doesn't try to express what the author "really meant" but what a German reader would make of the title. Another good possibility would be "The Single One and His Property", as I mentioned above, but one does suffice, I think - note, I wrote "a literal translation", not "the literal translation". Gestumblindi 18:45, 18 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

True enough. As you'll have seen, I've not changed the article; it's just that I'm a little worried about the notion of an uninterpreted translation... --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 09:24, 19 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I discovered that the Byington translation (1907) is available online at ; from the original publisher's preface:
In particular, I am responsible for the admittedly erroneous rendering of the title. "The Ego and His Own" is not an exact English equivalent of "Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum." But then, there is no exact English equivalent. Perhaps the nearest is "The Unique One and His Property." But the unique one is not strictly the Einzige, for uniqueness connotes not only singleness but an admirable singleness, while Stirner’s Einzigkeit is admirable in his eyes only as such, it being no part of the purpose of his book to distinguish a particular Einzigkeit as more excellent than another. Moreover, "The Unique One and His Property " has no graces to compel our forgiveness of its slight inaccuracy. It is clumsy and unattractive. And the same objections may be urged with still greater force against all the other renderings that have been suggested, – "The Single One and His Property," "The Only One and His Property," "The Lone One and His Property," "The Unit and His Property," and, last and least and worst, "The Individual and His Prerogative." " The Ego and His Own," on the other hand, if not a precise rendering, is at least an excellent title in itself; excellent by its euphony, its monosyllabic incisiveness, and its telling – Einzigkeit. (...) Gestumblindi 20:35, 20 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yeah, you could have a separate article on the translation of the title --but why bother? I think that every edition discusses this in their respective introductions --and there isn't much more to be said. An overly technical rendering such as, "The unique one and his distinctive property" would be absurd in modern English, and, let's face it, "ego" is vague enough to suit the purpose (Freud doesn't own the exclusive rights to that word).

Anyone who has understood Stirner's book might possible agree that the book is about the individual and his uniqueness. It has nothing to do with the an individual's "own" or "property."Lestrade (talk) 00:36, 24 November 2011 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]

Uniqueness (Einzigkeit) seems to me a rather trivial quality of any man or, for that matter, of any living being and, in the end, of any object. What Stirner wants to explain is what "Ownness" (the whole part II of his book) means, and what qualities an "Owner" has. --Nescio* (talk) 14:49, 24 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Trivial" is a subjective adjective. It only communicates that which seems or appears to you. By "uniqueness" I meant that Stirner emphasized the fact that every individual has only one unique life to live and shouldn't let that life be affected by any external influence, such as the government, the church, society, etc.Lestrade (talk) 16:39, 24 November 2011 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]
Only now coming back to this place, I'd like to response, that firstly it is trivial to say that a man has only one life, and secondly that more important and specific for Stirner are the "internal influences", as spooks, fixed ideas etc, in short all that what makes up the Freudian super-ego, the "malign introject" from the early years of life, which most people cannot get rid of in a lifetime. --Nescio* (talk) 16:50, 5 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My own understanding of the title would be "The individual and his selfhood" - though with the obvious problem of the gender-specific tendency entailed by "his". CAS, Perth AUS, 22 December 2016

The newer translation by Wolfi Landstreicher translates the title as ‘The Unique and Its Property’. Perhaps this should be mentioned in the article? Runesq (talk) 20:45, 28 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

text on Cambridge University Press edition moved here[edit]

The text provided about the misinterpretations of david leopold in the Max Stirner article have been moved here due to the fact that they are mainly relevant to readers of the Cambridge edition, and are more a comment on one individual's misinterpretation of Stirner's thought than Stirner's thought in general.--Itafroma 11:50, 4 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

David Leopold's Pessimism[edit]

The article says that David Leopold's introduction is overall pessimistic. Pessimism means that this is the worst of all possible worlds. Is that what David Leopold claims in his introduction?Lestrade 18:54, 30 August 2006 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]

I have never read his much disputed introduction, and i didn't write the text about his intro, but i did edit in the pessimistic part while trying to make it more impartial. But the word is used alot more loosely than your above stated meaning. I don't think that interpreting something in an overall pessimistic way necessarily means that you have interpreted the subject as being the worst of all possible scenarios. Pessimism, aswell as your stated meaning means: a tendency to take the worst view. I was implying that Leopold had taken a view that was, overall, negative, and not as positive as the one the person who wrote the article about his intro had taken.Itafroma 16:29, 1 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Latin word pessimus means "worst." Unless we want to glorify in ambiguity and speak to each other in code and personal languages, we should use words according to their conventionally agreed-upon meaning. "Negative" and "positive" are also unclear words. They each have several meanings that vary according to the context in which they are used. Negative could mean "denied," "refused," "prohibited," "vetoed," "opposed," "contradicted," "disproved," "counteracted," "neutralized," "disavowed," "disclaimed," "refuted," "repealed," "revoked," "belied," "repudiated," "dissented," "contravened," "annulled," "invalidated," "absent," "subtracted," "reversed," "bad," "excluded," and other predicates.Lestrade 17:03, 1 September 2006 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]
My intention was not "to Glorify in ambiguity", speak in codes, or use personal languages. I was just using the word as i understand it to be used. Maybe i used the word inaccurately, but this article and the Max Stirner article need to be improved. The old wording was "bleak and uncompromisiing", and as i said i have'nt read his intro, so if you could edit in a more aprapprate term it would be helpful.Itafroma 20:37, 1 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Leopold has seen it, and replied[edit]

Prior to collective editing, a longer version of this critique of Leopold's introduction (now pared down and included on this page) was indeed sent to him, and he read it and replied.

I'm glad to see that it wasn't entirely eliminated from the Wiki version of reality (I think it disappeared and re-appeared).

I don't think that this passage constitutes "original research" as it simply presents direct quotations from two published sources (viz., Leopold's text and Stirner's text) --at any rate, there's nothing original enough about such a contrast between quotations to disqualify it from the wiki.

The opinions expressed in the passage are not. Cributed to any reliable source. That it "presents direct quotations from two published sources" is a classic case of unpublished synthesis. From WP:SYN:
Editors often make the mistake of thinking that if A is published by a reliable source, and B is published by a reliable source, then A and B can be joined together in an article to advance position C. However, this would be an example of a new synthesis of published material serving to advance a position, and as such it would constitute original research.
As such I have removed the following section:
";David Leopold's introduction.
Turning to the introduction to the Cambridge University Press edition of The Ego and its Own (Ibidem, pg. xxxi), the interpretation provided by David Leopold is overall pessimistic.

... [W]hen Stirner talks of the egoist being 'owner' of the world it seems simply to indicate the absence of obligations on the egoist --a bleak and uncompromising vision that he captures in an appropriately alimentary image:

"Where the world comes in my way -- and it comes in my way everywhere -- I consume it to the quiet hunger of my egoism. For me you are nothing but -- my food, even as I too am fed upon and turned to use by you. We have only one relation to each other, that of usableness, of utility, of use. We owe each other nothing. (p. 263)"

The "bleak and uncompromising vision" that he alludes to on p263 is in fact a description of a bird singing in a tree for the sheer joy of creating its own song. Stirner's words immediately preceding the quotation provided by David Leopold are as follows:

But not only not [sic.] for your sake, not even for the truth's sake either do I speak out what I think. No:

I sing as the bird sings,
That on the bough alights;
The song that from me springs
Is pay that well requites.
I sing because -- I am a singer. But I use [gebrauche] you for it because I -- need [brauche] ears. [Ibidem, 263]
Stirner's intended meaning for the word 'use' [gebrauche] in this excerpt is established in the context of the metaphor of the singing bird. By taking the quote out of context, David Leopold imposes a possibly unintended meaning upon the verb "use" [gebrauche] as implying "instrumental treatment" (p. xxxi). This pessimistic representation of the source text is further demonstrated when we consider Stirner's words immediately following the quotation selected by Leopold:

We owe each other nothing, for what I seem to owe you I owe at most to myself. If I show you a cheerful air in order to cheer you likewise, then your cheerfulness is of consequence to me, and my air serves my wish... [Ibidem]

David Leopold ends his quotation with "We owe each other nothing" full stop, without providing an ellipsis to indicate that he is breaking off Stirner in mid-sentence, so that the subject Stirner discusses is not included in the quotation, a major faux pas for an academic."
Skomorokh incite 01:17, 8 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Phenomenology of Mind/Spirit[edit]

Does anyone know exactly how "the book is largely modelled on the work Phenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel"? What are Lawrence Stepelevich's reasons for making this claim? Is Stirner's book an account of how Mind/Spirit becomes aware of itself through the three–step self–movement of truth until it finally becomes Absolute God contentedly admiring His own Absolute Mind/Spirit? Lestrade (talk) 20:17, 12 November 2008 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]

I found this.Lestrade (talk) 03:06, 13 November 2008 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]
The only thing I could find on Google Books/Scholar even discussing the Ego and Phenomenology of the Spirit in the same article was this, which is scant support for Stepelvich's claim. I suggest removing the stub-section on the alleged Hegelian influence until we can find some better treatment of the subject. the skomorokh 03:17, 13 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Censure on 1844[edit]

Hello, I'm french and I have made a big part of french wikipedia Stirner's article. About censure, this may be interesting to know that the book, was censored the day he was published, in october 1844. But the censure was (hum what the word, they give up censure) two days after, because, they say, the book was "too absurd to be dangerous". Interesting, not ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:43, 3 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Content section[edit]

"The primary implication of undermining these concepts and institutions is, for Stirner, an rational egoism, which can be said to transcend language"

While this section may need a lot of work a did a little clean up, such as removing the above quoted section, as it makes little sense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dondoolee (talkcontribs) 03:06, 31 December 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Details on the three English editions[edit]

Note that after scrutinizing all the leads offered by Google, I finally found a good description of all the editions of "The Ego and his Own", especially the three English editions, in " Max Stirner within the LSR project":

Max Stirner - The Ego and Its Own

The German original: Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum. Leipzig: Otto Wigand 1845 [Okt. 1844]

In print: Der Einzige und sein Eigentum. Stuttgart: Reclam 1972 ff

First English edition: The Ego and His Own, trans. Steven T. Byington, ed. Benjamin R. Tucker, pref. James L. Walker. New York: Benjamin R. Tucker 1907. xx + 506 pp. (This edition was reprinted several times by several publishers in New York and London up to 1931)

Second English edition: The Ego and His Own, trans. Steven T. Byington, ed. and pref. James J. Martin. New York: Libertarian Book Club 1963. xxii + 366 pp. (This edition was reprinted several times by several publishers in the U.S.A. and U.K. up to 1993, sometimes with pref. by Sidney E. Parker)

Third English edition: The Ego and Its Own, trans. Steven T. Byington, ed., intro., annot. by David Leopold. Cambridge / New York / Melbourne: Cambridge University Press 1995. xl + 324 + 62 (annot.) pp. David Leopold changed the title (His to Its) "not out of ahistorical considerations of 'political correctness' but because Stirner clearly identifies the egoistic subject as prior to gender" (p. xl). He accepted the Byington translation ("an heroic attempt to convey the readable yet idiosyncratic prose of Stirner's original") but "made a number of amendments, such as removing infelicities and archaisms, replacing the occasional missing sentence, and restoring some of the original paragraph and sections breaks." (p. xxxix)

An abridged English edition: The Ego and His Own, trans. Steven T. Byington, revised, selected and annotated by John Carroll. New York / London: Harper & Row 1971. 266 pp. The book appeared in a series "Roots of the Right. Readings in Fascist, Racist and Elitist Ideology", together with writings by Gobineau, Rosenberg, de Maistre, Maurras. The text consists of a mix of about a hundred quotations from "The Ego" (and some from Stirner's Minor Writings), reducing the volume to about a half.

The following text is a working text, based on the Tucker edition. For italicized words and Stirner's footnotes see any of the three editions. For pagination see the table of contents. Very helpful are the endnotes of the edition Leopold. As an introduction to Stirner resp. his historical position see Bernd A. Laska: A durable dissident - Stirner in a nutshell

This page also gives a table of concordance of page numbers between the three English editions, but only for the first page of each section and subsection of the book. However the text of the book shown in one page (wonderful for immediate location of quotations) does not indicate the page numbers, not even of the off copyright Tucker edition of the 1907 edition

Please note also that the full Tucker 1907 edition is shown with full preservation of page numbers on the TMH ("The Memory Hole") site: The Ego and His Own by Max Stirner

So, it is easy to locate any given quote in the full text with the LSR, and then identify the page number in the Tucker 1907 edition with the TMH transcription, But, for such a given quote, it is not possible to identify the page number in the 1995 Leopold edition without having a copy of the 1995 print in hand. --ROO BOOKAROO (talk) 15:20, 17 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Date of publication[edit]

The date given in the original edition was moved forward to 1845, not back to 1844. It was actually published in 1844, cf. also the German entry. The current English entry is wrong. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:33, 8 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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