Max Stirner, was a German philosopher who is often seen as one of the forerunners of nihilism, existentialism, psychoanalytic theory, postmodernism, and individualist anarchism.
In his main work, The Ego and Its Own, Stirner launches a radical anti-authoritarian and individualist critique of contemporary Prussian society and modern western society as such. He offers an approach to human existence in which he depicts himself as “the unique one”, a “creative nothing”, beyond the ability of language to fully express: “If I concern myself for 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.”
The book proclaims that all religions and ideologies rest on empty concepts. The same holds true for society’s institutions that claim authority over the individual, be it the state, legislation, the church, or the systems of education such as universities.
Stirner’s argument explores and extends the limits of criticism, aiming his critique at popular ideologies, including religion, liberalism and humanism (which he regarded as analogous to religion, with the abstract Man or humanity as the supreme being), nationalism, statism, capitalism, socialism and communism.
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