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Stirner, Max (1806–1856)

Johan Caspar Schmitt, who wrote under the name Max Stirner, was a German intellectual associated with the “Young Hegelians” and best known as the author of The Ego and Its Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum), an idiosyncratic case for a radical form of egoism that was influential in the development of American individualist anarchism.

The overriding thrust of The Ego and Its Own is that the best life is one totally free of constraint or obligation. “Owness [Eigenheit]” is incompatible with any surrender of individual judgment. “I am my own,” Stirner wrote, “only when I am master of myself, instead of being mastered … by anything else.” Stirner therefore rejected the existence of any legitimate obligation to others or to the laws of the ...

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