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The Ego and Its Own

The Ego and Its Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum in German; also translated as The Individual and His Property) is a book by German philosopher Max Stirner.

Main Ideas

In his book, Max Stirner portraits the individual human ("the Ego") as surrounded by forces that want to control him. These include all religions and ideologies of the time, and presumably all that have been invented since. Family patriarchy is also explicitly included in this group of forces.

Stirner does not even want his own "doctrine" of self-interest to be a universal truth or established viewpoint, and likens his book to a ladder you throw away after climbing, a sort of self-therapy.


Originally written in German, and was translated into Japanese by Jun Tsuji. Although the book has gone through a storied and variegated history of mis-translation and politically-motivated revisionism, the standard English-language edition available today is by Steven T. Byington, an American anarchist. Byington's version of the text is highly imperfect, and reflects the translator's purely political interest in the book; more philosophical and psychological passages are given sloppy treatment, and a few important passages are incomprehensible without recourse to the original German.


The book has been very influential, and is regaded as a classic of existentialism, though it was not recognized as such for a long time.

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