The Ego and Its Own is a philosophical work by German philosopher Max Stirner (1806-1856). This work was first published in 1845, although with a stated publication date of 1844 to confuse the Prussian censors. The book portrays the life of a human individual as dominated by authoritarian concepts ('fixed ideas' or 'spooks'), which must be shaken and undermined by each individual in order for that person to act freely. These concepts include primarily religion and ideology, and the institutions claiming authority over the individual. The primary implication of undermining these concepts and institutions is, for Stirner, an ethical egoism, which can be said to transcend language. According to him, t only is God an alienating ideal, as Feuerbach had argued in The Essence of Christianity (1841), but so too are humanity itself, nationalism and all such ideologies. According to Stirner, individuals should only entertain temporary associations between themselves, agreeing in mutual aid and cooperation for a period of time, but only when in each individual's interest (perhaps anticipating cooperative games). Stirner repeatedly quotes Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller and Bru Bauer assuming that readers will be familiar with their works. He also paraphrases and makes word-plays and in-jokes on formulations found in Hegel's works as well as in the works of his contemporaries such as Ludwig Feuerbach. This can make the book more demanding for contemporary readers.
Johann Kaspar Schmidt (1806-1856), better known as Max Stirner (the nom de plume he adopted from a schoolyard nickname he had acquired as a child because of his high brow, in German 'Stirn'), was a German philosopher, who ranks as one of the literary fathers of nihilism, existentialism, post-modernism and anarchism, especially of individualist anarchism. Stirner's main work is The Ego and Its Own, also known as The Ego and His Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum in German, which translates literally as The Only One and his Property). This work was first published in 1844 in Leipzig, and has since appeared in numerous editions and translations.