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Max Stirner
#1
Read this and then we can talk:

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/...-eats-gods
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#2
I'll give a brief introduction to Stirner's writing as I understand it. If our resident Stirner experts want to correct me, they are very welcome to do so.

I think the most insightful portion of Stirner's writing is the Humeian scepticism transposed from epistemology to politics and ideology. (I find the normative writing of Stirner (and Hume) uninteresting, so I will not consider it here.)

I can explain this in some detail (although I'm sure others here can explain it in even more detail), but I don't want to post a gigantic thesis, so I'll keep it quite short, and then people can just ask questions if they want more detail, and maybe I'll elucidate in response.

Hume's contributions (see principally A Treatise of Human Nature) are much too great to list. But the smallest background stuff that I can get away with explaining for what I'm talking about here is Hume's empiricism, through which it was demonstrated how rationalism was essentially "nothing but sophistry and illusion," and so we should "[ c ]ommit it [ … ] to the flames." (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding) The only way to obtain knowledge is through the senses, not through some magical God-given intuition. And this knowledge can never be 100% certain, for our senses are much too limited. We can't sense causality, and the only reason we don't suspect the floor caving in at any one moment, is simply because we've gotten used to it not doing so. But seeing the floor not cave in a million times, doesn't per se prevent it from caving in the next time we see it. Oh, and while we're at it, rationalist ethics is a crock of shit too—it is through our passion we make decisions, not reason.

From this Hume formulated the observation that all the things we sense through our perception are "stored" in our consciousness as impressions. From these impressions, we derive ideas. Some ideas are derived from reflecting on other ideas—complex ideas are derived by the imagination putting together several simple ideas—but the ultimate origin of any idea is an impression. So all of our ideas are derived from perceptions. And they are just that—ideas. Descartes's idea «that all that is very clearly and distinctly apprehended (conceived) is true» (Meditations on First Philosophy) is just an idea (and a pretty bad one at that, Hume would say). Hume laid waste to any and all rationalist universalism about how society needs to be this way or that way, and how this god is the right god (and how he so very obviously exists because I have an idea of something perfect, and since I am imperfect something perfect must have put the idea of perfection inside me), and so on. In fact, Hume pointed out that it is just completely illogical to talk about what should be, based on what is. (This is called the is-ought-problem—you cannot logically derive what ought to be from what is. Logical proof omitted from this post, but it isn't complicated.)

Stirner is essentially this applied to ideology and politics, via Hegel and Schopenhauer (both of which I omit from this already lengthy post). Stirner says that all these things you take for granted in society, via tradition and so forth, are just ideas. And not just ideas---they are spooks. By this, Stirner means that they have become like ghosts (Wolfi Landstreicher translates "spooks" to phantasms in his translation, but "spooks" has been propagated through online memes over the years, and probably from pre-Internet memes as well), haunting your every waking thought, limiting you. Gilbert Ryle would later describe the Cartesian dichotomy (the mind-body-dichotomy in which the mind and body are totally distinct) as the ghost in the machine (The Concept of Mind), a criticism Hume and Stirner both would no doubt approve of. Stirner is articulating something similar. Spooks spook you, and prevent you from living your life to the fullest degree.

This is a sort of bare minimum introduction to what I find useful in Stirner's writing. Maybe it was useful to you, Zhachev, and to others.
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#3
One thing that I can't help but notice about your explanation, Alexander, is a conspicuous absence of anything relating to the "creative nothing," to "self-enjoyment," or to the ontological status of the individual human Subject. While I agree that the epistemological aspect of Stirner's thought regarding "fixed ideas" as "spooks" is an interesting one, I see it as being somewhat peripheral to his broader project of fundamentally uprooting rationalist assumptions about what it means to be "a Self" and to affirm one's own desires. An interpretation of Stirner that does not include any reference to subjectivity and individual desire is one that has stripped him of his vitality and reduced him to a pale shadow of his former self. I'm curious about why you make these omissions when they were so central to what he was trying to accomplish.
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#4
'Here we shall merely add that in the final analysis this ego comes into existence because it has the same illusions about the world of the Christian as the Christian has about the world of things, just as the Christian takes possession of the world of things by “getting into his head” fantastic nonsense about them, so the “ego” takes possession of the Christian world, the world of thoughts, by means of a series of fantastic ideas about it. What the Christian imagines about his own relation to the world, “Stirner” accepts in good faith, finds excellent, and good-naturedly repeats after him.

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds” (Epistle to the Romans 3 : 28).'

Marx, "Saint Max"

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

Letter to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion, 

James
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#5
(Sun, 26 Nov 2017 02:04:06 +0000, 02:04 AM)Matt Wrote: One thing that I can't help but notice about your explanation, Alexander, is a conspicuous absence of anything relating to the "creative nothing," to "self-enjoyment," or to the ontological status of the individual human Subject. While I agree that the epistemological aspect of Stirner's thought regarding "fixed ideas" as "spooks" is an interesting one, I see it as being somewhat peripheral to his broader project of fundamentally uprooting rationalist assumptions about what it means to be "a Self" and to affirm one's own desires. An interpretation of Stirner that does not include any reference to subjectivity and individual desire is one that has stripped him of his vitality and reduced him to a pale shadow of his former self. I'm curious about why you make these omissions when they were so central to what he was trying to accomplish.

Because I don't find them interesting or worthwhile. I am not an egoist or interested in egoism.
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#6
(Sun, 26 Nov 2017 13:08:41 +0000, 01:08 PM)alexander Wrote: Because I don't find them interesting or worthwhile. I am not an egoist or interested in egoism.


What is it about egoism that you find so objectionable?
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#7
(Sun, 26 Nov 2017 11:50:16 +0000, 11:50 AM)KyXen Wrote: 'Here we shall merely add that in the final analysis this ego comes into existence because it has the same illusions about the world of the Christian as the Christian has about the world of things, just as the Christian takes possession of the world of things by “getting into his head” fantastic nonsense about them, so the “ego” takes possession of the Christian world, the world of thoughts, by means of a series of fantastic ideas about it. What the Christian imagines about his own relation to the world, “Stirner” accepts in good faith, finds excellent, and good-naturedly repeats after him.

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds” (Epistle to the Romans 3 : 28).'

Marx, "Saint Max"

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

Letter to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion, 

James

Marx basically had no clue what he was talking about when it came to Stirner, so I really don't put much stock in anything he had to say on the subject. Like most people who don't understand Stirner, he makes the fatal mistake of assuming that the "Ego" is just a more narcissistic version of the Cartesian Cogito.
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#8
(Sun, 26 Nov 2017 20:54:07 +0000, 08:54 PM)Zhachev Wrote:
(Sun, 26 Nov 2017 01:11:50 +0000, 01:11 AM)Matt Wrote: Read this and then we can talk:

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/...-eats-gods

Done.

Good. The article you just read is a primary source for the piece of writing that I'm currently working on. Of particular interest to me is the idea of "Ego" as a "process" rather than either a subject or an object. Basically, the article that I'm working on right now tries to flesh out this idea in greater detail by making additional connections with Deleuze and various other folks who either influenced his thinking or who have since written commentaries about him. My argument is basically that understanding "Ego" a process rather than a fixed identity undermines the typical depiction of Stirner as a self-centered narcissist who didn't care about anyone or anything except himself. You'll have to excuse me if I don't go too much more into detail than that because I don't want to give too much away. ;) But that's where I'm coming from in a nutshell.
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#9
Yep, it's definitely worth being curious about. I'm not going to get into it here other than to say that, with a few modifications, Deleuze's idea of 'becoming' is quite compatible with Acosta's notion of the Ego as a 'process.' Beyond that, I'll leave it to you to form your own conclusions.
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#10
(Sun, 26 Nov 2017 15:53:13 +0000, 03:53 PM)Matt Wrote: Like most people who don't understand Stirner, he [Marx] makes the fatal mistake of assuming that the "Ego" is just a more narcissistic version of the Cartesian Cogito.

Marx's "fatal mistake". In what sense was his "misinterpretation" fatal? Fatal to whom or what? It has not been fatal to the theorists of Stirner who live even after his death; it has no bearing on the movement towards communism: destruction of civilisation. The theory of Stirner is still embodied in the real world. Christianity is the bed rock on which democracy (Western civilisation) is enshrined.


Quote:...when the great [bourgeois]Revolution broke out, the doctrine hatched by English Royalists gave a theoretical flag to French Republicans and Terrorists, and furnished the text for the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

These creeds might differ from one another, but they were, all of them, distinctly religious, Christian creeds.

Engels, Friedrich. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (Kindle Locations 241-242). Kindle Edition. 

I think the chapter on Stirner in the German Ideology is just as much a statement on the egoism of St Paul and the corruption of the teachings of "Jesus" as the theory of St Max; and for that reason alone I love it.

Stirner was to victorious, fully developed civilisation what Paul was to nascent civilisation. Both were an apology for the atomising tendency of modern civilisation and a bar to it's supercession, although thankfully not a fatal one.

Ubuntu: I am because we are
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