Max Stirner's Dialectical Egoism: A New Interpretation

Overview

Max Stirner (1806-1856) is recognized in the history of political thought because of his egoist classic The Ego and Its Own. Stirner was a student of Hegel and a critic of the Young Hegelians and the emerging forms of socialist and communist thought in the 1840s. Max Stirner's Dialectical Egoism: A New Interpretation examines Stirner's thought as a critique of modernity, by which he meant the domination of culture and politics by humanist ideology. In Stirnet's view, "humanity" is the supreme being of modernity ...

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Max Stirner's Dialectical Egoism: A New Interpretation

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Overview

Max Stirner (1806-1856) is recognized in the history of political thought because of his egoist classic The Ego and Its Own. Stirner was a student of Hegel and a critic of the Young Hegelians and the emerging forms of socialist and communist thought in the 1840s. Max Stirner's Dialectical Egoism: A New Interpretation examines Stirner's thought as a critique of modernity, by which he meant the domination of culture and politics by humanist ideology. In Stirnet's view, "humanity" is the supreme being of modernity and "humanism" is the prevailing legitimation of social and political domination.

John F. Welsh traces Stirner's thought from his early essays to the Ego and Its Own and Stirner's responses to his critics. He also examines how Benjamin Tucker, James L. Walker, and Dora Marsden applied Stirner's dialectical egoism to the analysis of the transformations of capitalism; culture, ethics, and mass psychology; and feminism, socialism, and communism. All three viewed Stirner as a champion of individuality against the collectivizing and homogenizing forces of the modern world.

Welsh also takes great care to dissociate Stirner's thought from that of the other great egoist critic of modernity, Friedrich Nietzsche. He argues that the similarities in the dissidence of Stirner and Nietzsche are superficial. The book concludes with an interpretation of Stirner's thought as a form of dialectical egoism that includes a multitiered analysis of culture, society, and individuality; the basic principles of Striner's view of the relationship between individuals and social organization; and the forms of critique he employs. Stirner's critique of modernity is a significant contribution to the growing literature on libertarianism, dialectical analysis, and postmodernism.

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Editorial Reviews

Chris Matthew Sciabarra
John F. Welsh provides us with a superb distillation of the thought of Max Stirner and the dialectical-egoist paradigm he developed. Through this brilliant study, Welsh demonstrates the power and breadth of dialectics as a radical mode of analysis and social transformation.
Svein Olav Nyberg
A book of this kind has been long awaited. It is the first modern book-length sympathetic, yet balanced and scholarly, exposition of Max Stirner's thought and, in my opinion, the best book on Max Stirner on the market. John Welsh's Max Stirner's Dialectic Egoism contains new and useful arguments based on sound scholarship. Welsh shows a good grasp of what Stirner means and what he doesn't, and of the different interpretations of him up until the present. The text includes different interpretations and understandings of Stirner, an exegesis of Stirner's major work, The Ego and Its Own, insights of leading historians of philosophy, and a comparison of Stirner and his disciples. Overall, well researched and very informative!
Modern Slavery
Welsh is clearly aware of these central aspects of Stirner's project….He has…offered a very useful tool for anarchists, egoists and Stirner scholars, a tool that is well worth using. And it is not difficult to use. The language is fairly simple and straightforward. The content is well organized. I recommend the book for anyone interested in exploring what Stirner has to offer us in our confrontations with the ruling institutions.
I-Studies
Any reader of this journal, and anyone who has ever tried to grapple with Stirner, will enjoy and benefit from this book. Scholars and students seeking a clear, honest, up-to-date introduction to Stirner need look no further. Individual-minded individuals outside the academy will also find this book of use.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739141564
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 9/23/2010
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John F. Welsh was a professor at the University of Louisville and is currently working as an independent scholar.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Part I Max Stirner and Dialectical Egoism

1 Max Stirner: "The Peaceful Enemy of All Constraint" 3

2 Humanity-the New Supreme Being: Stirner's Summation and Critique of Modernity 45

3 Ownness and Modernity: The Political Meaning of Dialectical Egoism 81

Part II Stirner's Influence: Three Encounters with Dialectical Egoism

4 The Political Economy of Modernity: Benjamin R. Tucker and the Critique of the Capitalist State 117

5 Reciprocity and Predation in Everyday Life: The Egoist Thought of James L. Walker 157

6 Beyond Feminism, Beyond Anarchism: Egoism and the Political Thought of Dora Marsden 191

Part III Max Stirner and the Critique of Modernity

7 Two Who Made an Insurrection: Stirner, Nietzsche, and the Revolt against Modernity 229

8 Dialectical Egoism: Elements of a Theoretical Framework 267

Selected Bibliography 283

Index 289

About the Author 293

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