Ultrōneism is a philosophy where I ramble on and on and on about nonsense.
I am not an anarchist. Also some (most) of you just are ignorant of Max Stirner's ideas.
Narcissus (- BCE)
Antigone (13th Century BCE)
Heraclitus (535-475 BCE)
Gorgias (483-375 BCE)
Plato (428-348 BCE)
Antisthenes (446-366 BCE)
Henry of Ghent (1217-1293)
William of Ockham (1285-1347)
Francisco Suárez (1548-1617)
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733)
Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1672-1714)
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872)
Bruno Bauer (1809-1882)
Johann Kasper Schmidt (1806-1856)
Sergey Nechayev (1847-1882)
Ernst Jünger (1895-1998)
Leo Strauss (1899-1973)
Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000)
Jean-François Lyotard (1924-1998)
Lawrence Stepelevich (1930-)
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)
Bob Dylan (1941-)
Saul Newman (1972-)
Matthew Noah Smith (-)
My "political" philosophy is just individualism perhaps even individualism without adjectives so I don't get bundled up with liberals, or socialists, or anarchists, or god forbid, capitalists... So, I hold that individuals are autonomous actors, and that they are at all times able to own themselves, but can be alienated from their lives through the onset of additional unowned actions. These actions are caused by external authority, an outside force that directs or alters the individual subject, and one such authority is the state. However, unlike the 'Strong Anarchist' I do not think there exists a legitimate obligation to remove the state. I also hold an 'a priori' claim that all authority, always and everywhere, is illegitimate and creates no obligation to obey.
I do not wish to destroy the state, I do not wish to waste all my time reforming the state for it to end up a little more libertarian in my lifetime and then just die. I instead wish to focus on my life now. I do not aim to achieve an anarchism - I solely seek to drive it into your thick skulls that I am not out to destroy the laws, or your precious governments, or to overthrow anything. It is your position to alter the current, to "overthrow" the modern system and replace it with your own system, how many self-inserts on this wiki argue that we should do nothing? And how many "authors fill whole volumes on the state without questioning the fixed idea of the state itself" - see your squabling never leaves the realm of the political, all you can say is "this political system is bad", not "political systems are bad" - you merely wish to have a change in masters, I do not. And a consequence of this is not having a new system called "anarchism" that we somehow magically wish ourselves into, I intend to live as an individual now, under the state, no matter which state, even no-state.
For the Ancient world, and specifically the Greek and Hellenistic World, citizenship was a "right" of males only, thus restricted. Obviously this created a privilege not a right (although human "rights" are also restricted...), with exclusive benefits to those who fit under the label. Clearly you have to be living appropriately within a regime to be granted these rights (and if your rights are violated, such as the Uyghurs in China, no one seems to care). You must follow the dictates of the governing body, right imply obligations, and you are obliged to serve the authority to be granted your rights. Cosmopolitanism to the Cynics implied a disconnection with the particular authority (although now it is chopped up to everyone is equal, or humanisnistic nonsense). The Cynics instead were citizens of "the world" or nature.
As such, the Cynic is free to live according to nature and not according to the laws and conventions of the polis. The conventional polis is not just rejected but replaced. The Cynic refuses to obey the obligation, and in turn refuses the "right" (privilege). To be a citizen is to belong to a polis, to be a member of a specific society with all of the benefits and commitments such membership entails. It is funny that Diogenes is called Diogenes of Sinope, because when asked where he was from he replied "I am a citizen of the world". By not responding with the expected “Sinope,” Diogenes is renouncing his duty to Sinopeans as well as his "right" to be aided by them. Yes, the nation and state ask of you, but you only have to follow along if you wish to receive its blessing. "Take a look at the nation, which is defended by devoted patriots. The patriots fall in bloody battle or in the fight against hunger and need; what does the nation say about that? With the manure of these corpses, the nation becomes a “blossoming nation.” Individuals have died for “the great cause of the nation,” and the nation sends some words of thanks after them—and profits from it." (Stirner, 1844)
I have gone to lengths in the past to remove the connection between Stirner and Anarchism, atleast what I see as the socialist history of Political Anarchism. Within the tradition, Stirner stands as an outsider who denies community, instead demanding "one-sidedness". And yet two major "branches" of modern anarchism (Post-Left and Post-) take heavy inspiration from the Milk-Man that is Max Stirner, while at the same time looking towards other Heterodox forms of Marxism in Post-Situationism, Autonomism, Post-Marxism, etc. IF anarchism is Anti-Statism then any willy capitalist or American would be lumped it, while if Anarchism is Anti-Authority then the Chomskyan "justified" hierarchy rears its ugly head when one discusses parents, or teachers, or experts etc. Yet Anarchism historically has been niether of these, anarchism has been a program of community, and mutuality, and above all a socialist doctrine, or at the very least an anti-capitalist one.
Now, the issue is, Philosophical Anarchism can only fall into the first of these, and depending on the author, the second. Wolff for example had trouble in convincing people that promises and contracts would also be opposed by his "duty" to autonomy (things that Stirner long threw out), and Godwin declared that any social organisation prevented the individual from rationally deciding what was best for everyone. And yet, philosophical anarchist arguments are lapped up by the laissaz-faire capitalist crowd as a justification for privatised government. There is an essay in which Stirner is called a weak or philosophical anarchist, he is called an anarchist by Saul, by Landstreicher, even Engels, and yet was Stirner's goal to oppose the state, was it to demolish the government, was it even to argue that the state is illegitimate? No, it was none of these things, because then the work would be a call to arms, a manifesto, a doctrine.
How could Stirner's argument for individuals involve a set-in-stone doctrine that every individual must follow collectively? How could his individualism become a political conquest, an Anarchism? Especially when another Young Hegelian (Edgar) had already called for the end of the state, for the full revolution to achieve the rights and freedoms of Man, and when the main socialist opponent within the work is none other than the "father" of Anarchism, Proudhon. The work was not written with the intent of anarchism, not could it retroactively been slotted in, it can be utilised by anarchists sure, but Stirner is no anarchist. But I am Stirner? No, I am not. So what is my "political" philosophy?
As I said in the last section, this paragraph is devoid of Stirner, instead, I am talking (as if I haven't been talking to you this whole time). Now, there is a tug of war in my politics, there is the side of me that wishes to call itself an "Individualist", the side that knows anarchism is a negative buzzword, the side that also knows that Anarchists proper would probably not agree with my sentiments nor would I with theirs. There is then the other side of me that feels it necessary to have a quick and easy label to utilise so I don't have to send someone a formal essay on why I do not identify with any sect of the political sphere. This side is currently losing, as you can tell by my recent removal of "Egoist Anarchism" in the influences tab, and the title of this section being called "Anarchism".
Where is my "non-anarchism" stemming from? Well, don't Stirner, Novatore, Wolff, Smith, and Jünger all argue that the individual has no need to deal with the State, isn't this anarchism? Ah, but as we discussed, neither does the Austrian (The Capitalist Austrian), or in their wildest dream, the American. Now obviously I think there is no need to deal with any-authority, even a self-directed one, a controlling passion such as greed for money, which then also comes from Stirner, Wolff, and Smith. Which is really going beyond what I think anarchism as a political ideology is trying to achieve, trying to be, and what it historically has been. See, Stirner's argument is that the individual has autonomy and thus there is no "need" for external government. For Wolff, it is that the individual has a duty to be autonomous (which I say is impossible, because the individual is already autonomous), while Smith argues that the concept of self is destroyed when an external force alters the subject, i.e. it becomes alienated from its own actions. I just don't see my goal as anarchism, even philosophically, I wish to surpass it.
I doubt anyone reads these, especially because they don't see the title 'Civil', 'Economics', etc. above any of them, and because they are solid paragraphs without the little icons, and because I utilise philosophical ideas instead of "my policy is to hate capitalism". Anyway, I dislike democracy for a number of reasons, some of which are discussed later (see sections Liberal Democracies and Political Disobedience). However, as it stands my main reason for disliking democracy is that it is a -cracy, a form of GOVERNment. See, obviously democracy is the supposed solution to authoritarian governments, with direct democracy being freedom itself to some, but once a ruling is in place is there any difference whether multiple people made it, or one? The prince says do X, but we would prefer it if the people said do X. If 99 people said they wanted to kill me, and obviously I didn't want to kill myself, does that make it fair? To some yes, to others well if I deserved the killing then yes, but who decided the deserving? Oh right, the 99 people. Even if a complete collective will came into being, and everyone including me agreed to let's say demolish my house, If I then later withdraw my consent, do the others care? Or must I become a slave to the people? Is my willing today bound to my will of yesterday, today a willer, tomorrow a slave? Where has my choice gone, where is my consent involved, or am I subject to the people no less than the prince? I will follow no lord, nor lords. Any and all systems of government demand that I fall in line, become a servant, I will do no such thing.
The modern liberal state reduces individuals to concepts, to statistics, and to numbers. The general concept of citizenship reduces individuals to nothing but a thing, a 'citizen', it makes all equal, all general, it strips them of their private interests, they simply do not matter. This liberalism is a leveling, a form of nihilism. The absolute freedom and rationality at the end of history and politics is a dystopian world of thought control, the reduction of individuals to concepts & subjects, and exclusion. In this system any individual can be imprisoned, have their rights removed, die in war, etc. in order to improve the states standing, or all the other numbered citizen's well-being, however, your direct well-being at any moment could be forfeit. I hold that modern political systems (Liberal Democracy in the West mainly, but could be any system even socialism, which reduces you to worker or to a community member) reduce individuals to concepts, or objects to be utilised for any doctrine possible, whether this be voting, or labour, or even upkeeping the idea or peace of the political system.
If the modern liberal state's principle is that all is equal before the law, all are citizens. Then socialism's principle is very much the same, "that human beings 'have equal rights by nature,'... this whole revolutionary or Babouvist principle rests on a religious, i.e., false viewpoint. Who can ask for 'rights' if he is not himself coming from a religious standpoint? Isn’t 'the right' a religious concept, i.e., something sacred? 'Equality of rights,' as the revolution put it forward, is only another form of 'Christian equality,' the 'equality of brethren, of God’s children, of Christians, etc.'; in short, fraternité." (Stirner, 1844). And yet, it is in fact society that has the right, the right of ownership. See, socialism (and by extension) communism extends the pauperism of slavery, of feudalism? We find that no system has ever altered the fundamental, there has been no historical progress, no great march foward towards freedom, only a change of masters.
The Hegelian viewpoint of ultimate freedom has ended us with what exactly, more slavery? Let us look at Feudalism, does it not have the owners (the lords of the land) in which the King owned the land and bestowed it upon vassels for a return. The paupers, the serfs, the individuals could in turn have possession of the land, utilise it to make a living, but they could never own it. Only the powers above could lend it to you, but just as quick they can take it away, you have it because they let you. So too do we only have "ownership" or possession of property through the modern liberal state's permission. Do you not have the right to property, a deed to your house, and yet the government could just as easily take it away. Though we have systems of eminent domain, if you are criminalised it can just disappear out of the blue. You have to be promised property, you are afforded to be a vassel of the state if you give in return to the state; pay your taxes, uphold the law, etc. Even those free-market capitalists who openly cry out for private defence agencies would simply move from being vassels to the King (state), to being serfs of the Vassels (defence agencies), because only through them would you have possession of your property. The individual is not owner in this system, even the "capitalist" is just as trapped.
However, it is the capitalists who run the system of the state, or so the socialists keep telling me - "The state isn't a simple instrument of the ruling class. It is structurally bound to the reproduction of the ruling class's status as ruling class" (Council, 2022). And yet what is the solution, to absolish private ownership (as if such a thing existed) and uphold a system of pure possession, pure serfdom. Yes, perhaps Hayek was correct when he spoke of the road to serfdom, but, he himself failed to realise capitalism was also a destination on this desolation row. Socialism cares about the society, the social, and when no one has property everyone will, what nonsense. Yes, everywhere you will hear from anarchists to marxists that they do not wish to remove ownership of personal affections, only the possession remains, only if again the community allows it do you have anything, always a dependent little serf on the land of your betters. Any economic system always has to have owners and possessors (Vassels and serfs), will you choose the King and the Lords, The State and the Courts, or the Community and the Work Places?
Ideology as a phenomena has been looked at inside and out throughout Continental Philosophy. However, I wish to outline my own position on it in three sections. So I wish to start with Marx and Engels who in their critique of Stirner, say that he A) gave too much objectivity to the state and allowed it too much power over individuals, while at the same B) gave no objectivity to the material state and just fell into an idealism which says that the state can be wished away through thought. And yet, if no one bent their knee to the state, would their be a state? See, Stirner's point much like Étienne de La Boétie is that the authority functions because we let it function, the material state exists because we let it. This works for any system of ideology, if you as an individual truly believe that something like the state is an objective entity that is good, or justified, or etc. then you would bow down to it, because you obviously think yourself lesser than it.
But "the state" is only your idea of the state, you are not at all times being physically threatened by actors of "the state" to follow the law. So if one said to oneself "I can't steal, stealing is wrong" then you would have reduced yourself before, not the police the actual power, but a thought, a literally idea that exists in your mind that the law is good, is "the law" good? Well if you could point to me where "the law" is, I could see if it was good. But, as it stands the law exists as a piece of paper, a selection of courts, and then the physical enforcement, the police. No where in any of these is there the law, the law can only exist as an idea, and your idea of what the law is, as such if I realise that the idea exists in me, and only I have actual existent, then the law cannot be anything else but a mental barrier to my own well-being. I have deceived myself into thinking my existence is less than that of my own creation, my own thoughts.
And, because individuals are obviously self-seeking people, they have their own interests and head towards things that they think will better their own life. which obviously is a good thing, but, if a snakeoil salesman promises you a fix-all remedy why wouldn't you buy the snakeoil? And obviously because you are aiming to benefit yourself in life, you want the promised good, you wish to search for your better future self that has all these wonderful things. You are tricked into acting contrary to yourself, the unconscious egoist who while still being a self-seeking or interested individual gets carried away by their personal desires for doing the right thing because they have been told that one has too, or it will be better for all of us. Ideology says you have an ideal waiting to be reached, and of course you selfishly desire this better world, this utopian Ideal. So what do you do, you follow along with that they say you need to do, you wish to get to heaven? Then be holy. You wish to bring about a political doctrine, then go vote, go revolutionise. All of you who have the strongest dogma towards morality, who hates the egoist, are nothing but that blind selfish egoist yourself. Do you not wish to have good things? I hold that ideology is a pervasive social discourse that exists to utilise individuals by casuing them to act contrary to their own interests. However, Ideology can only work because it preys on your self-betterment, it dupes you into thinking something is actually your interest when it may or may not be.
However, how would one be able to seperate their false self-interest and the real interest, do we fall into the Marxist trap by saying that ideology is a deception of the essential rational humans, and thus if we scientifically find the actual goals of classes we can escape it? Or do we do as the (Post-)Structuralist does and say ideology is all pervasive and even wanting to be free of ideology is an ideological act? No, we do not aspire to create the essential (the other Ideal self that one must become), nor do we deny that individuals can own themselves and act autonomously. Instead we wish to realise that ideas are just that, ideas, and one can either follow them because they believe the idea exists somewhere, perhaps even as a physical thing, such as "the state" (as opposed to a collection of people), or that their existence is somehow lesser than that of something greater than themself, are you so self-hating that you reduce yourself to a pawn, a tool, a cog? Do you as the egoist, wish to not be the egoist? The idea exists because I the creator thought of it, and it is always lesser than me, my creation, and I redeuce it to my thinking, my goal making, my interests. Do I wish to have the chocolate bar for free, or be a "good citizen" as if one could be such a thing?
So, why would a selfish individual not be selfish and act according to an external demand? Because, if like I claim, every individual is an egoist, how do we end up with unconscious egoists, isn't that saying there are non-selfish people? Well, one would have to respond by saying egoism is not just selfish behaviour but "own" behaviour, that is to say individual action that is community focused, or in line with the law or whatever is only acted upon because the individual is interested in it - "I don’t at all need to show that everything that tries to push its cause over on us is concerned only with itself, and not with us, only with its well-being, and not with ours. Just have a look for yourselves at the rest. Do truth, freedom, humaneness, justice want anything else than that you get enthusiastic about them and serve them?" - this is to say that ideas can only function by asking that you work for them. But why and how does the individual reduce themself before these ideas?
Well, I take two principles, the first being the route of the Young Hegelians who argued that the best parts of yourself are projected into the idea, i.e. humanism and its perfect human, communism and the class conscious worker, etc. These are again the Ideal other. I.e. the individual is given an essence, such as worker or human and then directed towards the unachievable goal. I can never be the perfect human being, because no such thing has ever existed nor can ever exist, there is no Ideal essence that is all loving, and permenantly rational etc. So, the individual believing they are the essence of human, want to be the best form of themself. The other route, one that I take from Bernard Mandeville, is that the individual found ways to better secure their private interests, by engaging in forms of socially-sanctioned behavior that were acceptable and thus gratifying- thus securing a more advanced form of pleasure than would be had by simply glorying over their immediate selfishness. The ideas and rules to follow do not actually commit oneself to a denial of selfishness, but rather just shift the interest to another party, from the self, to the non-self. The Individual is to become interested in the ideas of social betterment. The individual in the want of not-being seen as selfish (because it is of course a negative trait...) becomes selfishly interested in being a "good member" of society. But again, society is only ever the idea that demands you serve it.
Law has long been seen as a form of command, from Hobbes to Bentham and even Suárez, that is to say that the law has its effect through a ruling or an obligation to obey something superior. The law then must always be something alien, it alters the subject into something else, transforms the individual into giving up their own owness, there is little physical force, but rather "Moral Force". The Phenomenology or conscious experience of the law is an implanting of values or attitudes from the outside, you experience the law as an external alien object. The law, and any such ideological abstraction alienates the individual from themself, but not from their essential rational self (as if ideology was just a shrouding of reality), or future better self (as if the ideology was a barrier to the ideal), but rather the individual from themself now. But, did we not also speak about the law being an idea, and an individual idea at that... so how do we reconcile the experience of law, with the nature of law?
Well we do what I always do, look to Stirner - “In the time of mind, thoughts grew in me until they were over my head, though they were its offspring; they hovered about me and shook me like the fever dreams, a horrifying power. The thoughts had become embodied for themselves” (1844). What does this say, well obviously it speaks of thoughts/ideas as the offspring or creations of the mind, they do not exist in their own right, and yet these ideas have become corporeal, we have reified (treated them as physical) them. My idea of the law is different to yours, it just has to be as we have not both experienced the same thing when it comes to the law, and as such if "the law" told you not to do something, it acted on moral force, it would only ever be your mind that accepted it as moral, or even a force. If you never bowed down to the rule, would it rule you? The law is a force, and an external one, but the external idea can be taken back - "If I destroy their embodiment, then I take them back into my own, and say: “I alone am embodied.” And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my property: I relate everything to myself."
I wish to speak about what it is exactly I say is the wrong solution to political change - the churchly freedom of revolutionaries - “We must not only act politically, but in our politics act religiously, religiously in the sense of freedom, of which the one true expression is justice and love.” (Bakunin, The Reaction in Germany 1842). A religion of revolution in which the Nicene [Nihilist] creed reads "What can be smashed must be smashed. Whatever withstands the blow is fit to survive; what flies into pieces is rubbish. In any case, strike out right and left, no harm can come of it.". To their most extreme ideologue Sergey Nechayev "A revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no private interests, no affairs, sentiments, ties, property nor even a name of his own. His entire being is devoured by one purpose, one thought, one passion – the revolution." (Nechayev, Catechism of a Revolutionist 1869), he has nothing individual, he only has purpose in serving the revolution. The revolutionary who in their strive for the Ideal, repeats the real, the Liberal Democracy, the revolution says "It doesn't matter what your private interests are, YOU are to help me". Don't states (liberal democracies) say this, "You can have private matters, doesn't matter to me, you just need to vote, to work, to pay taxes, to etc., to follow the rules".
Nechayev has boiled and distilled down the concept of ideology plain and simple. Ideology disregards anything particular, anything unique and says you are this subject, you are an object for use. As Stirner says 'Over the gateway of our time stands not the Apollonian slogan “Know thyself,” but “Actualize yourself!”', forget yourself, it doesn't matter. Your only purpose is to be actualised, utilised to further something else, something alien. But as we saw, this can only come about if you are duped into wanting this goal selfishly. Even a future idea of utopia or "the right" political system, these ask of you. You are a worker and need to become class conscious in order to bring about communism. Oh, as a worker, well good thing I'm not 'actually' a worker, I'm just me. But in all seriousness, the revolution no less than religion demands that I obey so I can reach a glorious heaven, in one, actual heaven, the other a political heaven, commununist, or anarchist, or democratic utopia. If only I just follow along and forget my private interests, “Down with the egoist who only thinks of himself!”. Again, your personal life is forfeit for the furtherance of the state, or the revolution, you are nothing but a tool.
Upon seeing that Council had recently read the work "The Political Revolution" by the Young Hegelian, and Brother of Bruno Bauer, Edgar Bauer, I was a bit worried that my "relation" would end up being a critique of this work. So I am taking it upon myself to critique it first. Now, they [Council] labelled the work as an instance of Young Hegelian anarchism, which is fine (although the work discusses anarchy, not anarchism), but where I have a problem is with their usage of the "insurrection" icon. One would be hard pressed not to find the "religious" revolutionary spirit within this work. Yes, Edgar cries out even before Stirner that the political is a fixed idea, and we must trangress the state. See, their work of Hegelian History shows that the French Revolution could only ever end in Napolean or the Bourbon Restoration, it could never extend beyond this because the revolutionaries attempted to place the natural rights of man within the non-natural state - How very Rousseau.
And yet, if one escaped the fixed idea of the political, one also ran head first into the "Form" (as Edgar labelled his abstracts) of rights, of freedom, a perfect freedom of non-governened communist living. One would be quite absurd to label this "full" complete revolution as anything but what it is, revolution. The Insurrection, the Empörung of Stirner cannot ever be chopped up to a search for freedom, another Ideal to chase. And yet neither could Edgar if you take his word for it - "To this I respond quite simply that it is not our business to construct" (Strikingly similar to the Russian Nihilists). And yet one paragraph later you will read "‘No private property, no privilege, no difference in status, no usurpatory regime’. So reads our pronunciamento; it is negative, but history will write its affirmation." - This is the perfect doctrine, the gospel of non-political politics. Edgar does nothing else except move the political to the non-political, make it a non-issue within the political sphere and proclaim that his enemies, "those people [that] are just naturally deaf to deductive arguments for a rational freedom." - Could it be, the rational freedom of the Hegelian, a state of anarchy?
If freedom is so terrible, or atleast so far away - "I hope and pray, but not too much, out of reach is out of touch" (Ferry, Dance Away 1979) - what is the replacement? The Hegelian story (or really any ideology that argues we are going to get to the perfect political system, so all of them) argues that that the modern world had already reached or was going to reach the final state of ultimate freedom. Althought the modern world does not have individuals physically enslaved to a totalitarian power, they are rather used by ideology... what a perfect freedom. Arguing that freedom is only another Ideal to chase after, something that can only ever be wished for, never created, something that again you would be reduced to a tool to achieve, your life is forfeit if we achieve it in the end. Instead we look to Ownness, a description of its owner i nthe now, a real state of existence, not an Ideal state. Let us peer into Stirner's argument for Ownness - "On the other hand, ownness is my whole essence and existence, it is myself... I am at all times and under every circumstance my own, if I know how to have myself and do not waste myself on others." Ownness then is a form of autonomy, which you always have even if you are whipped and chained, it is your own body and mind that you have ownership of, you are not free of the whipping, but you are still your own.
I wish to look at Jünger's Anarch, which is explored in several of his later works such as The Forest Passage, Eumeswil, and Aladdin's Problem. The example given in the Forest Passage is a totalitarian dictatorship (although in his sense a liberal democracy), that controls the population utilising ideology, propaganda, and nationalism or a sense of culture, while also utilising "voting" to prove its legitimacy. In Jünger's analysis, the totalitarian government actually wishes for dessenters because a 100% approval rating removes "the enemy" which a strong government is required to crush. As such the government actually prizes rebellion from a select few. Jünger points out that the individual has two options, either they actually go ahead with the 'no' vote and thus actually have a conscious rebellion and realise their own autonomy, or keep up appearances and vote yes, so that the government is unable to tell who are dessenters and who are not. Each "method" of insurrection is useful, if you cannot utilise the obvious or directly outward attitude out of fear of punishment, you can always inwardly be your own. However, there can never be a final state beyond authority, the rebellion is always against, the individual is disobedient towards any authority, state or no.
Previously we have discussed insurrection as opposed to the chasing of Ideals in reform and revolution. And to some (Council) the only way to actually acheive anything is through collective action, and by anything they mean communism, which is again not really an anything, a concept I would posit. So, instead individual acts of insurrection - as opposed to the chain of events proposed are the real destroyers of Gods - and if you prefer Capital. For this, "I’m pondering a comparison for greater clarity, contrary to expectations, the founding of Christianity comes to me." (Stirner, The Unique and Its Property 1844). Oh, not just the founding, but also the "freeing" of Christianity. Freedom of religion could never have formed under the sole authority of Mother Church (The Catholic Church), for a thousand years it stood as the institution, the authority - "But there's only one authority, That's the authority on high" (Dylan, Gonna Change My Way of Thinking 1979). How many times was the Church challenged internally, reformed or even revolutionised. Was it not until the Protestant Reformation, the breaking away from the church that led to its freedom? Was it also not the same for Jesus and his worldly authority - "he, like every one of the ancient Christians, was all the more an insurrectionist, who raised himself up above all that the government and its opponents thought sublime, and released himself from everything to which they remained bound, and at the same time he undermined the sources of life of the whole heathen world, from which the established state had to wither away in any case; precisely because he rejected the overturning of the established order, he was its deadly enemy and actual destroyer; because he walled it in while he confidently and recklessly carried out the building of his temple over it without paying heed to the pains of those walled in." (Stirner, The Unique and It's Property 1844).
This political distancing was actually none other than a seperation, and breaking away from the current authorities. This brings to mind another so called 'political disobedience', Antigone, who while not originally from Sophocles' play Antigone, is expressed most excellent therein. Prior to the events of the play, we witness the unfolding of Oedipus' life and curse. However, it is his sons who start this strife, one is a defender of Thebes, the other comes to perform a revolution, an overthrowing of the authorities to instigate his own (much like our communists, strong anarchists, socialists, etc. today). Both of the sons die, Thebes remains safe due to the "good" or civically abiding brother's actions, and the current King of Thebes - Creon outlaws the burying of the revolutinary brother. However, Antigone allows for only one authority, the authority on high, the sacred law of familial piety, including proper burial for family under the dictates of Greek Religion. She ends up burying her revolutionary bother, but is caught and then punished, as was her sister. subsequently the king's son kills himself due to the death of his love, and so too does the king's wife (due to her son's death) cursing the King. The state (the royal family) has been done away with, the order destroyed, but not from the revolutionary (the brother through group solidaity, the causal chain), but the insurrectionist, the individual actor. In short can we really accept that the authority, the current order needs to be brought down through united efforts, through organisation... Or do we find that the real destroyer is the individual, the singular event, the seperation, not the alteration?
I wish to touch on several issues, 1) Stirner's Egoism means being a prick, an evil human rights violating, or anti-social psychopath, and 2) that Stirner's Egoism has no positive contribution towards political science. On the first of these issues, everyone is an egoist, so that means you, on hating Stirner's philosophy do so because you value helping others or being a nice person. Stirner makes no distinction between an egotist and an altruist, it is a false dichotomy, both types of people are just doing their own thing autonomously. Likewise with the human rights violater, there may be such a person, or there may not, Stirner doesn't advocate for either he just advocates that if you do either action you did so because you wanted to instead of being directed to do so. Finally, how is an anti-social person any different from the community member that enjoys being a part of a social environment, aren't both doing their own thing, their own interests, self-interests?
On the second, which is markedly more political, we have those in this community who go by "Social" Egoism, as if Egoism didn't also already have the ability to be a social doctrine. Stirner speaks of a person who does not revel in the joys of other people and belonging, although he struggles to believe there is such a person, but then again certain psychological conditions were not known to him. So to Stirner, the egoistic person actually gains joy from helping and socialising with others. To him, it is a fuller experience in life to be social, and for him actually enjoying and being interested in others is the only way to really be social. Example, you are forced to interact with other people for work, do you actually wish to interact with these people, do you actually wish to socialise with them? Or would you rather socialise with your friends because you have an interest in them? Do you not find joy, a selfish desire to feel happy with your friends? Only by being truly self-interested can you be social. Same with your loved ones, or even sacrifice, see if a loved one were to die and you could save them, would you? Would your life not be torment without them, would you no longer be interested in living without them? So is it not the egoist who truly sacrifices? As opposed to the person who thinks the other is more important than them, has this person not already forfeited their life? Is there life not already worthless to themself, well then what are they sacrificing? The actual interest here in relations is a Union of Egoists, a relation based on mutual self-interest, both you and your friends interact to enjoy, to fufil your interests.
Hobbes’s thought both politically and philosophically was majorly influenced by his intellectual climate, the English Civil War being particularly relevant to his moral justifications. In Hobbes’s major work, Leviathan he begins by constructing a hypothetical ‘state of nature’ in which men without a singular authority to regulate them devolve into (or rather already exist) in a permanent state of conflict. Summarised by Hobbes, he says “it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe they are in which is called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man.” (2017: 102). Here his famous dictum a ‘war of all against all’ appears, this principle outlines a zero-sum game, in which objects or possessions are in conflict, creating a scenario in which only one individual can have ownership at any one time. This conflict then is borne out of what Hobbes calls “The Rights of Nature”, which “is the Liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own Nature” (2017: 105). The rights of nature then, are a form of psychological egoism revolving around self-preservation, ownership, power, etc. These rights are only possible as a freedom from authority, a negative liberty, in which the individual or individuals are free from a central authority. However, a second right of nature exists, the axiom that men in their want of liberty and peace, extend that liberty to others which they themselves desire.
Desire in the form of a self-interested pursuit (or egoistic pursuit) of peace is the motivating force for Hobbes. This desire born out of fear of others, whether of one’s fellows or of a conqueror, creates two equally plausible methods for establishing political authority. Both follow from Hobbes’s first and second rights of nature, being the right to seek peace, and the right to give up certain liberties as to secure said peace. The state of nature is an exemplification of the first right to peace, through self-defence, a total war of self-preservation. However, the later right outlines the principle of giving up innate negative liberty so that peace can be guaranteed. Outlined in both Leviathan and De Cive, Hobbes states that “a man be willing, when others are so too… as for Peace, and defence of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things” (2017: 106), and that “the right of men to all things, ought not to be retained, but that some certain rights ought to be transferred, or relinquished” (1949: 33). Here, Hobbes outlines a principle of mutual agreement or contract between parties, that certain rights only when others are willing also, can be laid down or ‘given’ to someone else. That by popular convention a commonwealth, or a covenant of everyone shall give certain rights to a particular sovereign or political authority to secure the peace so that the first right of nature can be achieved through the second. This political sovereign is then granted authority on behalf of those within the covenant, due to a collective institution being established through want and desire.
As such, Hobbes argues that men in search of their best interests, aim to ultimately escape from the ‘state of nature’ and form a commonwealth, a society, and dispense with the war of all against all. This society formed through contract and covenant can only function through the transference of certain rights to a sovereign power, either singular or plural. Hobbes makes out that a commonwealth is only instituted when men agree, that is a covenant of everyone, to authorise a sovereign to act as their representative and authorise actions so that peace may be established. It turns out that the only way of laying down this right effectively… is by each simultaneously transferring it to someone empowered by the transfer to see to the security of all of the covenanters: namely, an all-powerful sovereign. To Hobbes, individuals must take their leave of certain rights or liberties which ultimately lead to less freedom than if subjects were to choose to enter into agreement with each other and make a binding agreement to relinquish their full self-sovereignty. As such, society is the secondary position, the later position, a non-natural position in which asocial individuals do not associate until necessary. Obviously, I think that individuals are social things, and thus I wish to argue agaisnt this anti-social individualism.
Max Stirner, in his Der Einzige und sein Eigentum contributed to the current philosophical debates of his time, focusing on what he saw as a failed attempt to pursue Georg Hegel’s culmination of history by the radical group known as the Young Hegelians. Building on the Young Hegelian idea that religion is a human construct that alienates human beings from their own essential nature, causing individuals to act on the religion’s behalf, believing they are bettering themselves. Stirner in turn argues that all social constructs or what he calls ‘fixed ideas’ alienate individuals who involuntarily follow them, believing that they are serving their own self-interests. Newman formulates Stirner’s deconstruction of Hegelian humanism into a discussion of oppressive ideology, saying that the involuntary egoist is strung along by unobtainable ideals of the human essence and identity because he thinks it is best to be these things. Stirner, like Hobbes then, contends that individuals always head towards their own interests, and that the only reason they can form society, or morals, or political bodies is because of their egoism. However, Stirner adds the caveat that an egoist is only able to seemingly serve external or unrelated fixed ideas, “[b]ecause he wants to stop being an egoist, he looks about in heaven and earth for higher beings that he can serve and sacrifice himself to; but however much he shakes and chastises himself, in the end he does everything for his own sake, and the disreputable egoism never gives way in him.” (Stirner 1844). Stirner argues that individuals are currently unable to realise their own egoism, thus his "Ideal", is one in which individuals realise themselves as they are now, in the real.
Stirner contends that the ‘state of nature’ is not an egoistic one (not in the Hobbesian egotist sense), instead “[t]he original state of the human being is not isolation or being alone, but rather society.” (Stirner 1844). He flips Hobbes on his head and argues that one is born into connection with others, as Leopold says “[i]t is membership of society, and not isolation, Stirner suggests, which is humankind’s “state of nature”, an early stage of development whose inadequacies are, in due course, outgrown." Stirner argues that the egoist in their search of self-ownership, or perhaps Hobbesian ‘peace’ must escape the tether of society, that we should not “strive for community, but for one-sidedness.” (Stirner 2017: 296). Both Stirner and Hobbes base their “moral” and political philosophy on the fact that individuals are egoists. But, in the rejoinder to his critiques, Stirner (2012: 62) outlines that his use of the term is idiosyncratic and involves unique individuals who act ‘uniquely’. Stirner’s main contention is that even individuals who act contrary to each other are just as much egoists, whether they help others or solely look out for their own good, thereby circumventing Hobbes’s contention that all individuals merely seek their own self-preservation. Although, very much like Hobbes, those who mutually agree can form a contract of like-minded individuals, an association Stirner calls a “Union of Egoists”, this union is instead opposed to society, the state, authority, and morality. Stirner actually wishes to create Hobbes’s state of nature, that once egoists become conscious of their self-interest devolve into relations of interests, forgoing “rights”, which Stirner sees as an illusion and a fabrication of society, saying “if the state is a society of human beings, not a union of I's, each of whom only looks out for himself, then it cannot exist without morality and must attach importance to morality… in other words, I destroy it and in its place form the association of egoists.”, (2017: 167-168).
Stirner even relishes in the state of conflict Hobbes calls “Warre”, arguing that individuals must take control of their own lives, using their capability of property ownership to “take what you need! Thus, the war of all against all is declared. I alone decide what I will have.” (Stirner, 2017: 243). Finally, the Union of Egoists, is not a form of subjection or transference of power, it is a “egoistic [form] of association – the ‘union of egoists’, for instance, which is a voluntary association formed without any sort of binding obligation” (Newman, 2011: 205). While similar thinkers, Stirner as the later, seemingly has no connection or reference to Hobbes, and their thoughts only coincidentally line up, focusing on desire, power/rights, mutual association, political obligation, and above all the ‘state of nature’. Overall, Hobbes and Stirner in their analysis of egoists reach diametrically opposing conclusions, with Hobbes aiming to escape a perpetual war of atomised individuals relating to each other only through power and conflict, into a society, or more so a commonwealth under an absolute political authority. While Stirner in the hope of escaping society and its strangling tethers, seeks to free individuals by helping them realise their individuality (their uniqueness) through relations of ownership and self-interest. Finally, I think both figures agree that the voluntary or mutual association is superior to the “existing” or original state of nature, here Stirner says that an individual “prefers the intercourse that it enters into with its peers to the society that it did not enter into, but rather was only born in” (2017: 291).
The Cynic disposition towards Nomos or convention should not come as a surprise if we were to remember that Antisthenes the "supposed" father of Cynicism was a student of the Sophist Gorgias. Why that surprise is non-existent is because the Sophists before the Cynics, had already rallied against Nomos and instead preferred Phusis or nature. Although, someone like Protagoras thought that convention or social/human justice was necessary for survival, but that humans only had the ability to "create" justice because it was naturally given to them as a part of their nature. While Sophists like Thrasymachus and Callicles (along with Thucydides) argued that justice could only ever be human nature, which was the nature of animals, the strongest always win.
See Callicles 2000 years prior to Nietzsche imagined that "justice" and by extension morality was a tool for the weak to bring down the strong, to reprimand them in order to lift themselves up. Justice can only ever be a selfish pursuit of the "winning team", and both the strong and weak seek to better themselves. Thrasymachus in turn argued that if individuals have acces to the Ring of Gyges (a ring that makes one invisible) then any individual would commit crimes because they could always get away with it. Thucydides utilised this egoistic view of human nature to argue that justice is born out of fear, one only follows along if their is punishment - how very Hobbesian. Someone like Hippias than, argued that justice can only ever come from Nature, there is a natural law, to which individuals are actually to act in accordance with. The individual is then to shun and deface the Nomos while living according to nature.
This is the Cynic principle, that there exists some objective and external measure (which to them was the Gods), and thus their asceticism was nothing other than a striving towards their Ideal, their "good life". But, as we have seen, I agree with Stirner, that the natural position is the social, is society, is Nomos. And that the interested party, the selfish figure perhaps of the "might is right" Sophists in which only the individual's capability is their measure - "If I am weak, I have only weak means" (Stirner, 1844) - is to seek their own interest not in the natural or born into association, but the pure convention, the voluntary and mutual union of egoists. We do not seek the Phusis, but the pure Nomos in which individuals can be themselves and not seek things that have value in nature, but only things which have value to the individual.
Now, one would be hard pressed to ever get a policy suggestion out of me, as one can probably tell I am totally indifferent to the going on's of the political sphere, and Duck seemingly has trouble wondering why I don't head towards a system that is at least a "lesser to two evils" - Well if you could name one political system that actually is a lesser evil, I may drop my anti-action stance. However, as it stands I will be content with my seperation and insurrection. However, there is one "political" issue that I majorly take a stand on, but one that I don't think is actually a political issue, although it has been made into one - culture, and more importantly individuals within culture.
I am generally a progressive person not because I stand for progressive policies that allow individuals to be themselves, but because I deal with individuals how they wish to be interacted with, which usually means in a progressive, accepting manner. I do not wish to be an ignorant or conservative person that gets upset over a transgender person using the bathroom that they wish to use, nor do I wish to confine individuals into a category or concept that I think they should be, even if they themselves wish to belong to a concept of their own choosing. The notion of "degeneracy" or the ruining of traditional culture would be hardly recognisable to the actual individuals of the tradtional culture. I'm sure your developments are just as degenerate as modern culture is to you, same as your ignorant, or perhaps purposefully hateful actions are themselves ruining modern culture according to its practitioners.
I cannot hope to stand for an Ideal, but I can act as a real individual and stand up for the views of people that I value, and these people themselves are progressive, so I in turn am also progressive. I support the choice of individuals to express themselves as they wish to be expressed, just as if I told you I prefer to go by Alex as opposed to Alexander (which I'm sure you would be happy to follow), I could tell you I prefer to go be she/they or they/them, etc. instead of my given pronouns. Now obviously that is a leap to you because I am objectively he/him but my name is not, well wouldn't it surprise you to find out the someone like Plato thought names were objective facts of reality and reflected the type of person you are, you would then be WRONG in calling me Alex. Plus, Bob Dylan is a progressive thinker and he speaks to me on a person level. Plus Plus, I am part of the LGBT+ community so I'd rather not be oppressed on top of all the other oppressions that are still existent.
Let us begin with everybody's favourite topic, nonsense, oh I mean non-sense - the a priori of metaphysics. Now we have brilliant thinkers on this site - idealists, immanent realists, dualists, and even monists. But can we be so simple, can we really hold information on these topics, how else but by thinking a pure thought seperate from any particular thing, any particular person and their experience. It would be precisely a non-sense, something that cannot be sensed, or measured, or proved, only perfectly logically analysed, only grasped as mind, as spirit. "But a person who wants to be active as a spirit is drawn to quite different tasks than he was able to set for himself before, to tasks which actually give the spirit something to do, and not just sense or keen perception, which only makes an effort to become the master of things. The spirit strives solely after the spiritual, and seeks in all things the “traces of spirit”; to the believing spirit, “everything comes from God,” and interests him only insofar as it reveals this origin; to the philosophic spirit, everything appears with the stamp of reason, and only interests him insofar as he can discover reason, i.e., spiritual content, in it." (Stirner, The Unique and Its Property 1844). This is the goal of the philosopher, the truth, as Basedman says.
Yes, with this spiritual and truthful world in which concepts rain free, those geniuses didn't wish to look upon the world, they wished to looked upon the truth behind the world - they sought spirit, those invisible ghostly apparitions - "What haunts the universe, and creates its mysterious “inconceivable” essence, is precisely the arcane phantasm that we call the highest essence. And to get to the bottom of this phantasm, to conceive it, to discover actuality in it (to prove “the existence of God”)—this is the task human beings have set for themselves for thousands of years; the awful impossibility, the endless Danaid-labor, of transforming the phantasm into a non-phantasm, the unreal into a real thing, the spirit into a complete and embodied person—they struggled away at this. Behind the existing world they sought the “thing in itself,” the essence; behind the thing [Ding] they sought the absurdity [Unding]... When one looks to the bottom of a thing, i.e., investigates its essence, one often discovers something entirely different than what it appears to be: honey-sweet speech and a lying heart, pompous words and miserable thoughts, etc. By emphasizing the essence, one thus degrades the previously misjudged phenomenon to a mere appearance, to a deception. The essence of the world, so attractive and marvelous, is for the one who sees through it—vanity; vanity is—world essence (world activity). Now, one who is religious doesn’t deal with deceptive appearance, nor with vain phenomena, but rather looks into the essence, and in the essence has—the truth." (Stirner, The Unique and Its Property 1844). This is our philosopher, the thinker who does nothing but live in a world of truth, not in our world or even their world but an impossible non-existent world.
So, what then is the world if not truth, if not pure understanding and concepts? It is nothing - but not a 'Pure Nothing' of Hegel, not that ultimate abstraction which can only become once it deals with 'Pure Being'. See the world to someone like Plato is Pure Being, although knowable and sensible reality is a mess of particulars, of actual real objects that change here and there. These changing things (because reality to everyone is expressed through change) must have some underlying non-changing thing which cannot be known to us except through spiritual revelation, pure thinking, etc. For Plato this was his Forms, the perfect pure form of Being from which things changed, and for someone like Aristotle, prime matter which consisted through changes in substantial form. The notion of Substance from Aristotle as the experienced form of reality (which contained the underlying form and matter) for Descartes was nonsense, and yet just replaced it with matter and mind as underlying, the experienced was now just modal changes in the underlying substance. Hume then argues after all the thinkers (Decartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hobbes) have had their back and forth that if all we can know is the change, how can you really know that something beneath it remains? What if all we have is the changing particular thing that ends up going away entirely instead of a pure something that remains.
Hume removes all the a priori, which to Kant was a brilliant move, but a little to extreme. See Kant agrees with all the others that the underlying is unknowable, but what is his solution? To imagine it anyway. See Kant's Thing-In-Itself is the underlying, the Form, the prime matter, the substance of Descartes... It is nothing but an imagined non-sense and principle that has to be there for practical purposes. Even to Basedman who is our major thing-in-itself practitioner argues that the 'Monistic Irrational Will' of Schopenhauer is unknowable, but atleast knowable as an unknowable thing so it must exist. Ah yes, just as if I know a round square to be non-existent so in order to talk about it I must know it, so it must exist... What utter nonsense. The will is knowable as an idea not as a thing, the underlying subject which must exist in order for the material mind to come about is just the modal alterations of Spinoza's God, which is a monistic substance so we are not far off. So why do these thinkers reduce reality, the constantly changing experience of individual things, because obviously one experiences seemingly individual things as actual individual things, why does there need to be the underlying... See for Kant it was necessary for practical action in the world, because the thing-in-itself was for him the world, unlike say Plato who says it is behind the world. But Kant's world is his concepts, so the behind is the external world. I instead hold that the sensible world of Plato is all there is, there is nothing behind it, no underlying substance that remains through the change, no thing-in-itself hiding behind. Although in this case it must be noted that we move the thing-in-itself to the general underlying, not the external world, because I hold that we do get to the external world and it isn't mediated through subjective mental concepts.
Now, the metaphysics of the underlying does not actually remove metaphysics in general. I still hold metaphysical principles such that I can talk about what reality is, even if I don't hold there is an underlying principle of reality seperate from experienced reality. See my metaphysics claims that reality as experienced, changing individual items, is the metaphysical existence. I can actually get to and know what reality is fundamentally, it is sense, sensible. There is no underlying essence behind each individual, something that makes it it, or something that remains, or something that allows the individual to exist in it (like the underlying will of the subject that allows the material mind), the single substance that has accidental or modal effects here and there. See, can we accept this, that our existence, our whole self, as an embodied self, is nothing but an other which is non-essential to the underlying nature of the subject or universe? No I feel myself as a whole fellow, I cannot split myself into an essential and non-essential self. But If I am all in all, neither body nor spirit, what can I be? Well, you are you, an embodied spirit, you as essence, which is really not essence at all, but just you, it is not your essence. In the sense that the universe as an experience melting pot of many different distinct individual things is not alterations of the essentials but instead just that, a collection of distinct individuals. The "nature" of reality is pluralism, many different things that are all themselves, all changing, all actually experienceable.
Although probably not obvious to the naked eye, all of the philosophical mumbo jumbo that is spouted by the likes of myself, HelloThere, and Council is actually different. Or is it, is any of the philosophy argued for on this site, from the most stringent Monistic Idealism to my Pluralistic Anti-Metaphysics, actually different? See the Deleuzian Existentialist is practicing what the speculative realists would call a Strong Correlationism, a removal of knowledge about the thing-in-itself (and by this I refer to the Kantian external or extra-mental object, not to essences like I use it), they removed being-in-itself and solely rely on the relation between things, being-outside-itself. They argue that things only exist because they relate to each other, no beginning and no end, except for perhaps our own structuring of them (non-structurally of course). Yes, we can't know about being, nor thought, but only being-thought, being as thinking. Is it not the same for the Transcendental Nihilist? That plucky young Lacanian Communist who loves nothing more than to remove the correlation and argue for an external reality, a full blown naturalism. Yes, what will we here them say, "I argue for something that doesn't need to be argued", and if we really wanted to envelop them into the unbreakable Fichtean Circle "I posit something as non-posited". Oh, what a contradiction, yes the external object, the thing in itself has no relation, it is the old Aristotelian substance, an independent. I posit it as independent, I understand it as independent, so it only exists for me as a posited thing, but didn't we say it wasn't posited? It existed without my positing? Well how do I know that, the old Kantian dream lives on, it is a practical necessity that it is there, but I can never really know.
Both of these philosophers deal only in relations, never with actuals, but can we deal with actuals? Can one ever escape the Fichtean circle, would one even want too, the Anti-Spectacle Structuralist seems quite happy with their Pythagorean/Platonic reality where your existence is contained within a neat little mathematical set. The Lacanian Collectivist seems quite ample to wander on down the road by dogmatically arguing that the subject is created by the object, the old Idealist claim reversed. What do we aspire too instead? Do we aspire? Or do we deal, see do we wish to find the spirit in everything, the rational and mathematical, the essence? Do we even hope to find the natural, the being, the material, the non-posited? Nothing is justified by being, the imagined and the unimagined just as much are, do my thoughts not exist just as much as myself? But do they exist because I know myself as body, and not mind, or as mind and not body? See each of these thinkers would have you chop off your essential self from your "non"-essential self. I am neither thought nor body, yes I do have thoughts and I am a thinking thing, but I am not all in all thought, nor am I solely body, "As little as people let themselves be persuaded that one could live on the “spiritual” alone without bread, so little will they believe him that as a sensuous being one is already everything, and so spiritual, full of thoughts, etc." (Stirner, 1844). I could drone on forever, but what is the point, do we correlate and reduce the world to phenomenon, to structures of our consciousness, or do we as Council would hold, that we could reduce our consciousness to the world? I will instead take myself as I am, a whole fellow, my own self, a unique self, and go from there, I am not a this or a that, but rather me.
See speaking of you as an essence is different to discussing your essence, much like being red is the essence of raspberry, which only determines what a raspberry is about, but not actually what it is (nor what that exact raspberry is, because obviously that particular raspberry is different to the general raspberry). I do not wish to understand what a general raspberry is, because can such an object exist? Is there such a raspberry that isn't big or small, rotten or fresh, tasty or disgusting? Or are there only experienceable particular raspberries that do have their own qualities? See does each raspberry have its own underlying essence, its innate thing-in-itself or being that is distinguishable from the taste, from the size, from the freshness? Even if it did, such that Plato, Kant, Hegel, Aristotle, etc would argue how would it ever be useful, how could we know about it? We do not utilise essence in our experiences, I don't much care if the disgusting rotten raspberry is essentially a raspberry just the same as a fresh delicious raspberry, instead we use the particular object. Nothing in reality is then really a concept or an idea or a Pure Being, even Plato that genius of the Form will admit to this, sensible reality is not truly Forms. Is a singular raspberry a concept, or is it a thing? Well that is a difficult question, because saying "a singular raspberry" is a concept, it formulates a concept in your mind, it produces thought content.
But I am not meaning to talk about a concept, I wish to discuss the thing, not the essence behind it, I wish to speak about this unqiue, particular "X" which has the concept of raspberry. Seeing as things are not concepts, nor are they essences, names, sounds, or even words, no one can define them, reference them. Let us deal with a quote - "How can anyone communicate the idea of color by means of words since the ear does not hear colors but only sounds?" (Gorgias). This was outlined by Gorgias in his work on Non-Being, a ironic refutation of Eleactic Ontology. He wished to prove that nothing exists, you wouldn't know it even if it did, and that you can't communicate it if you did know it. According to Gorgias then, colour cannot be communicated via sound because the colour red is obviously not the same as me just typing the word red. Gorgias then thinks we cannot actually reference or talk about what actually exists out there in the world, there is no word that defines the existent. However, does not the sound or typed word red have a concept, does it not produce thought content in your mind? We reach at last the actual problem, see, knowledge deals in concepts - red, tall, human, good, etc. If these actually don't talk about anything there is, what is there to know about reality? To Gorgias the answer would be nothing, reality is nothing. Did we not say this, yes we did... But did we mean it?
To the nominalists and non-essentialists, knowledge would of particulars, individuals, you can know particulars. So, if individuals are all that exists, and names only produce thought content based on generalised concepts, then how do we reference anything properly? Well, if we follow one of Gorgias's student's (Antisthenes) advice, then we end up being able to only reference individuals but can never give a concept of individuals. Antisthenes held that a thing can only be defined by its own formula (Logos), such that the definition of Stirner is "Stirner is Stirner", or that "red is red". If you say something like "a tree is a type of vegetable growth" you are not defining the tree at all, you are saying a type of vegetable growth is a type of vegetable growth, or that the definition of tree is that it is a tree. And if you were so bold as to say that a "tree is tall" you are saying a tall tree is tall, or that tall things are tall, the definition of tall is tall. So that attributes or predicates do not reference the objects they are predicated on but instead reference again nothing. As such, when the attribute 'human being' is attached to an individual it fails to signify anything particular and thus does not refer to anything that an actual individual is. Such that the phrase 'human being' has its own thought content, it has a sense pertaining to something other than you and me, because an individual human being is not the same as the concept 'human being'.
But if I asked for a definition of you, you can't just start listing off attributes or predicates (terms, e.g. I am human) because then all you'd have would be the human X is human, which is again tautological. You would only be able to say "you are you" which again is really saying nothing, you have no attributes. If I wished to refer to this human being, I wouldn't use an attribute, but rather a designation. Not human being, but rather Stirner, which is a particular human being. If I said something was a 'human being', what am I refering too? This is a shared or general name which as we said can never be predicated on an individual, but always refers to what is general, common. But what is common doesn't exist, since you can only reference individuals, and whatever is singular and individual is not common, it follows, in Suárez’s preferred idiom, that ‘formal unity, as it exists in a thing, is incommunicable’ (DM VI 1.11). This is to say, then, that nothing language-independent is fully shared by more than one being; hence, there are no universals, where these are conceived as mind- and language-independent entities capable of being wholly present in more than one place at one time. Again, Nominalists like Suárez, Stirner or Antisthenes think that words are universal but they don't reference any real entity, they are 'flatus vocis'. So when I say "Stirner is a human being", I don't actually refer to anything at all, but you know what I'm talking about. Because, concepts are useful, and they allow us to communicate, but they never let us get to the bottom of things, no metaphysical non-sensical understanding of reality. There is no underyling thing-in-itself, only each particular thing.
Now, if I reject the essence, what happens to the essentialist discourse of humanism, and for that matter, any social discourse. Let us start with humanism because it the most developed and general of any essentialist discourse. Humanism is an ism, a system of beliefs, beliefs about what? Well, contradictions of course, does the humanist not posit the possibilities of humans, or demand ethical maxims from humans? See, if I said human nature (an essence), the essential nature of humans was to be social, does that then mean the anti-social psychopath is not a human because they don't exhibit human nature? Or what about the utilitarian humanist that claims humans "should" better each other, oh so as a human it is my role to help others, so if I don't set myself this job am I no longer a human?
But obviously you would say I am a human because I have the genome, or am a part of the species, I will leave these be because they fall outside the scope of this section. So, I am at the same time a human and because I don't exhibit the nature of the human, I am inhuman, non-human. What a contradiction, I am the inhuman human. Can a descriptive category, such as "one is a human" ever amount to a prescriptivist system, "as a human you have to do x". See, humanism aimed at being so general to collect everyone under its wing, that it ended up excluding every human that exists, because no one human is exactly alike, you all act differently and thus all have your own natures. The liberal charges you with being a citizen, oh not just that, they charge you with the task of becoming the "good citizen", and so if you do not act in accordance, you fail to be a citizen, but aren't you still apart of the civilisation, of the society? So too with the communist, you are apart of the proletariat class, but you also need to become class conscious to truly become "yourself".
Become myself? What the hell does that even mean, am I not already myself, no but you must be perfect as your lord in heaven is perfect. At once I am myself, but must also become my proper self. I may be a human, but I need to become the ideal human, the perfected form. In short I must become the Ideal, I must strive and struggle to become something that I already am. Hour after hour I am charged with roles, jobs, duties from every corner of my existence to become something, to always work on myself as if anyone else could be a judge of who I should be, or even want to be. The Vanguardist Lacanian claims that the centralisation is necessary, necessary for what, oh the advent of communism. And who will this help, the communist? Well no because we don't have any yet, but perhaps the poor little worker who is unable to see himself through the smog of capitalism. But is any individual "the poor little worker", if I called out that in a room, would you hear your name and come forward, or would a collection of people come forward each with their own differences. Which one of them is the poor little worker? Well all of them, and none of them, because I wish to deal with individuals not concepts. None of them is an essence, a worker, because I could list off many essences and never have YOU.
But communism can only ever be good enough for the worker, the general collective of people. But do you want what is best for a small part of you, or do you want what is best for all of you? See each of those individuals has their own "perfection", their own "Ideal" that they wish to strive for, but each of you are told you are a worker, or a citizen, or a human and thus the best for those concepts is the best for you. Oh well aren't you also an animal, and a piece of matter, and etc. Well what is best for the animal, what is best for the piece of matter? If you are all of these and more, what then IS best for you? Can anyone ever say, or would what is best for all these fail to be best for you, because you are not these things, the concept of the worker or the human does not include you at all, I could talk about these things without ever mentioning you, so what relation do you have to these essences? Nothing, they are not you, and you are not them, you are you, and your best is for you, not for everyone else.
So, the thing in itself is gone from our picture of reality, so to with the mediation of knowledge. However, is this true? Do I not argue that knowledge deals in concepts, have I not fallen back into the false-consciousness of the skeptics (or the Fichtean Circle) by saying you cannot know the world but somehow must admit its existence? If I can only know the general, why isn't the world really full of universals and essence then? To deal with this, will we need to split this section in two, the first dealing with science, knowledge, and concepts. The second second will deal with realism, empiricism, and mental computation. So what are science, knowledge and concepts... Well funny you should ask, because seemingly they are all the same thing. Now one would immediately reject this position by arguing that one can have knowledge of one's breakfast without it being science or a concept, and to this we would reply that science, sciencia, really does only mean knowledge, and that modern developments since the scientific revolution have developed science into... wait what is science? Is it methodology, hypotheses, falsification, paradigms, or social contructs of theory-laden observations, well if it isn't any of these or could be any of them, can we really say what science is? to some, science is empirical, it tests the real world, gives us objective information.
But the world is a chaotic mess, it has been classified as this from the very beginning, and can anyone make sense of mess? If reality is made up of particulars like you experience it and these particulars have nothing common properly between them, how can we have knowledge of anything except that it is itself? So, if knowledge is the understanding of the physical world, and if it is empirical, or perceptable, how do I have knowledge of a) particulars if I cannot measure them against anything, and then b) If you can only perceive or know about particlars then how do we get to concepts? Well for this we require Plato, and his student Aristotle, see for Plato the world was a mess of consantly changing particular real things, and thus reality could seemingly be contradictory, the wind being warm for me and cold for you - The wind as an object contains cold and warm. Plato obviously doesn't like this because it then entails that something "good" could then also contain the bad. So, Plato had to devise his Forms, which can never be their opposites. The universal concept that really is the underlying reality, obviously I don't think that reality really is universal, so obviously I have to go from B to A instead of Plato's A to B, see Plato held that for the wind to be cold and warm there had to be a base concept of cold and warm so that the actual object (wind) could reflect these perfect essences. I say that the experience of this wind and that wind, eventually get us to the concept of cold and warm which we can utilise to understand other cold and warm things (but more on this later). Or that the experience of this raspberry which is rotten and disgusting and that raspberry which is fresh and tasty allows me to get the understanding that there are both raspberries.
Aristotle, in agreement held that all knowledge could only deal with universals, see to "know" 'Whiskers is a cat' I obviously have to have knowledge of what a cat is, and I have dealt at length in the past on how I think that is really nonsense, because there is no such thing as cat, just like there are only particular raspberries and not a general "raspberry". The Idealists think that the idea is prior to reality, and this goes into our science. See if science has its set foundations, language, rules, orthodoxes, etc. then don't these limit the possible understanding of the world? Aren't all scientific claims wrapped up in a language that doesn't actually express something objective about reality? We could claim this like any good Idealist, but we hold you can get to the bottom of things, or more accurately, that there is no depth to things. See for Hegel, the particular sense-perception, like Plato, is an insubstantiation of universal concepts, a thing is a bundle of concepts - the concepts are prior (or simultaneous) to our knowledge of the particular. Hegel argues that it was Socrates who developed this thinking (as do others, which is why they argue that Plato's Forms developed out of Socrates). Socrates aimed to acheive the general definition of concepts, not particular instances, he wanted to show the contradictions in particular thinking and to make explicit the general which is behind the particular. A person could like Plato could be skepticial of the contradictions within the wind, both cold and warm, and thus require the concept to properly understand.
We do not agree with this approach. Example: we are teaching a child about towels, the first towel is red, we point to the towel and say towel - the child then, upon seeing a red car points to it and says towel, but that obsiously isn't right, the towel was red and so was the car, but we weren't talking about the colour. But the child didn't know this, it is not until we show them another coloured tower and point to it and say towel that they grasp the concept of a towel (it must be noted at this point that the concept is not a general abstract thought but a collection of particular thoughts any of which may be thought of as a part of the concept and thus become its own exemplification), it is only through the particulars first that we arrive at the universal concept. Socrates had to begin with the contradictions to get to the concept, Plato had to discover his forms after the experience of reality, because the concepts are mental understandings, words with meanings, not with references. See, Hegel's 'bundle of concepts' is the towel, it is a particular thing that wihtout any other like it, could never be called anything but a proper name, if there was only one towel, then it would be 'Towel', just as Hegel is the only Hegel (obviously there are others called Hegel, but I didn't want to type his whole name here). It would then be a singular proper name and the child knowing it would really "know" nothing about it, the child could know it as a particular, i.e. the towel is towel. But, this could only hold if the child had never seen another red object, or another dry object, or another clothy material. Now, obviously this hypothetical is a bit hard to swallow, because the towel could alteast be known as a physical object and thus space must be a concept, such that Kant is vidicated. But the child without knowing the concept only understands particulars, without language, the child knows the towel as it is, not an a physical thing, nor as red, nor as a towel. It isn't a bundle of categories, it is a particular thing understood through a bundle of categories. See again, the concept of raspberry could never exist as an actual thing, only the particular raspberries or particular towels which must always have a colour.
So, particulars are prior to concepts, we now know what particulars are, but what are concepts? Concepts are for the Idealist the underlying realer real, although for someone like Kant the concepts not the things-in-themselves are knowable, still we must oppose both of these views. See for someone like Proudhon, who is through and through a follower of Hegel, the concepts are immanent in reality (similar even to Aristotle). His argument follows that the general idea, the concept, is the same as the intuition. This follows Hegel's collaspe of the Kantian distinction. Proudhon like all the others, thinks we can only see and know concepts, series, generalisations, abstractions, the particulars can only be known through their general essence. And again, this is how one enters into the Fichtean circle, see the intuition which stands at the heart of Fichte's philosophy claims to have itself as the base positing, the positing of the non-posited. For the thing to exist at all the intuition cannot be prior to knowledge, but very much like Aristotle (or even Deleuze) the structuring isn't prior (as it is for Plato), nor is it after (as it is for Hobbes), but instead the knowledge arises in the middle, at the same time as the object itself. On this, we must disgaree, the structuring of knowledge does come after the object, the particular, i.e. the towel comes after many towels. The mind combines the red and the green towel to see the towel, but there is no towel in reality that is not a colour, but you know a towel can be any colour and thus it is not connected to the concept of colour. Is this our solution? Well one would have to respond by asking how we know we see particulars if they are always mediated through concepts? Is one back to the Kantian system?
On this, we would have to disgaree, because as we have said, concepts are not really concepts, but instead contents of thought that are themselves particular. See if I asked you to imagine a towel, would you actually see "the towel" or would you still see a green towel, and then other time a red towel? Can you imagine right now a colourless towel, not a white or plain towel, but a towel without a shade, a colour... I doubt it. Because unlike the conceptualist, the nominalist argues that you think in particulars, and that your "concepts" are really just bundles of particulars. See we have reversed the Hegelian claim that particulars are bundles of concepts. And through this we have broken the circle, the posited particular in my mind, the thought content is different to the object itself, because obviously my thought is not the object, even the solipsist would agree that the rock they "create" and the rock they imagine are different (for them 'experiences', for us 'things'). The particular as the experienced world does exist, we don't to reduce it to a posit (because the posited object in my thought is different to the seen object), "the stone on the street is, and my image of it also is. The two are only in different spaces, the former in airy space, the latter in my head; because I am space like the street." (Stirner, 1844)
The particulars then are experienceable, we get to reality without it being mediated, nor with it containing the essence in itself already - A proper realism (devoid of the Brassierian Positing). However, unlike Protogoras (who Plato attaches the wind contradiction to) I do not hold that our knowledge of reality through experience or perception is always correct (relativism), see for something like a pencil bending in water I see the light bending not the pencil (reality isn't what I see it as), so in this case it is correct (the same for an object at a distance). But, for something like an optical illusion it is a bit harder to explain away with just vision, the mind has to be involved, thus an alteration of perception. Although is this alteration based on the concept of understanding, or the specific interaction of my mind with the experience. The alteration of vision does not have to rely on any concept or mode of interpretation, and even if I could alter what I see when looking at the illusion, is this again some underlying mode of interpretation? As such, my direct realism is a perspectivist outlook (i.e. not an objective realism) which I arrive at through a rejection of the Indirectness Principle (which holds that no matter which person or which state or whatever, we all see the same thing). I instead hold that if you were under the influence, far away from something, or sick perhaps, then you would experience the world differently, your internal or external state would change your perception of the real world. But, that doesn't remove the objective existence of an external world, nor that when your "normal" perception returns, it will be any different. Heraclitus likens this to the soul speaking the right language to understand the sensible empirical experience. Thus the wind, in each instance is perhaps cold for me and then changing to be warm for you, or perhaps again your direct particular experiences have formulated a "concept" in your understanding that wind at let us says X degrees is cold, while another person through their experiences understands that wind to be warm, because cold for them is actually a much lower temperature. But this doesn't alter the fact that the wind external to any perspective is X degrees.
But, if reality is constantly changing how do have knowledge of anything, how in our scientific experiments or even beliefs justified in saying something will happen again. Like lets say I enjoy the taste of apples, well if apples don't have a set taste or its taste might change between bites how can I claim apples are tasty? Or that atoms exist, or everything might turn purple in a moment? Well how do you know that, even if things aren't in flux, this is called the problem of induction. How do you know the sun will rise tomorrow, well because it has every other time, but how does that prove that it will do it again? Like I reach into a bag of popcorn and I have gotten a piece every time, but the popcorn will run out. There is no way to justify that a previous event proves a future event. This point aside, I would argue that events such as the wind being warm and cold are sufficiently similar (i.e. the wind is still the wind), or a thing changes place, or ages, or has different particles but it is still the same object for all intended purposes. So, like Hobbes argues, you see something in the distance and can vaguely gain its shape (perception 1: shape), you then get closer and can make out a colour (perception 2: colour), you then get close enough to see its details (perception 3: details), but because of the power of the mind, and previous perceptions you are able to match the first perceptions with the later the thus utilise computation through addition (i.e. you add the difference experiences to formulate one answer). Your mental image of this one item is made up of different, perhaps even contrary perceptions (i.e from far away the details didn't exist, so this perception denies the details) is arrived at through computation. So perceptions that are in flux may still gives us a total complete and true picture.This computation also gives us our concepts, the mental totals of all the particular events of particular perceptions, again the towel is only known because of multiple different particular items, red and green and blue towels.
Plato, within his middle and very metaphysical period outlines a kind of dualism (except for the fact that the 'Infinite Dyad' stems from the 'One') seperating out the physical/sensible world from the 'World of Forms'. Book V and VI of his Republic outlines distinctions between knowledge, ignorance, and belief. For Plato, knowledge revolves around "what is completely", i.e. when something IS X, so his Forms, because each form is completely its own thing, i.e. the Form of the wind is the wind. Ignorance is obviously based on "what is not", so a round square. Belief then, revolves around "what is and what is not", so something that both is and is not, so to Plato, an ever changing material particular object. Strangely, his knowledge is of the thing-in-itself, the underlying, the thing that can never be obvserved, proved, experienced, or known. Plato's Forms are not knowledge, because can something be red, i.e. X is red, or is it also something else. So thereby, the "changing" material particular is, it just happens to be multiple things, and different things at different times, but in an instant, it is something. But "wind" never is, there is never anything that just is wind, without it also being cold, or still, or fast, or warm, or etc. I dare anyone to point to me a Platonic Form. If, we remove the knowledge of the thing-in-itself, does this leave us only with belief? Or, rather, does it leave us asking whether Plato's definition of belief is even correct at all?
If I believe in lets say a flying candle, does this involve what is and what is not, well you can argue that it does, because it involves a candle, which is, and then a... "flying"? That can't be right. The belief is not in a flying and a candle, but in a flying candle, which "is not". It is hoped for, it is "believed" to exist, but it does not. Well, atleast not knowably so. So too with the Form, it may exist, but it makes no difference, because I can never experience it, it never "IS" for me, only ever a "could be". But I can know about the material particular thing, I can see it, hear it, imagine it, think about it. I mean I could think about the flying candle too, but that doesn't make it real. See Gorgias outlines that reality is completely different from thinking, because whatever you thought of would happen (i.e. an exploding bomb is right in front of me right now). He then goes on to argue that you cannot think about reality, because either you are able to think about reality, and thus reality is thought, or your thinking is not connected to reality and thus you only have your own thoughts. But I digress. The point here is, that if you wish to ground your epistemology in terms of thinking, and seperate it entirely from sensuousness (i.e. you are skeptical of sense impressions, obviously you would have to admit sense impressions in the first place to be skeptical of them) then how do you account for the fact that they are wrong, where is your truth coming from? Except to say that you believe they are wrong, "oh yes my sense impressions lie to me", how do you know they lie without previous knowledge from your senses?
If you see someone in the distance and think it's your friend, but it turned out to be a random person who you mistook for your friend, you could then go "oh my eyes have decieved me, how can I ever trust them". Because according to the rationalist, I knew what my friend looked like, so I can then figure out it wasn't them. So you knew what your friend looked like, so you valued your eyes then, but not now? Obviously the only way you could know it was different, was because you had previous knowledge from your senses. You can't pick and choose which knowledge is knowledge and which is not. Obviously the skeptic rationalist then argues that I am right, and that the previous knowledge of my friend can't be trusted either, so instead we have to reduce the outside world to belief. And only my mind can be said to exist (Descartes then builds up from there, back to the material world, based on God's power and the conceivability of objects), except to say that thinking (which is what can you know beyond doubt) relies on a thinking thing, just as if I said I was walking, well I am not "a walking" but a walking thing. And so now you have to believe in a thinking thing, it is like the Form or the thing-in-itself, it is just absolutely posited. Instead, as I have said in the past, I do not reduce reality to belief, nor vain appearance, nor thinking, nor sense impressions. This is pure belief, "what I see and experience is a lie, there has to be some underlying truth" - there is no underlying truth, the truth is already here, why do you believe in something extra?
Constructivism’s claim to fame is that we inhabit a ‘world of our making’, and yet quite ironically at the same time the world makes us, we are constructed subjects. This obviously creates a problem for constructivism, are we makers or are we trapped in a previously constructed world. Here, once certain social constructs are in place, some social constructs may seem just as objective and overbearing as any other sociological theory, that there was a time when people could have made choices, but we have gone too far now. Is there then no escape then from this spiral of construction, it seems that currently existing subjects are already their own conclusion and are unable to build themselves out of the previously constructed world. However, (post-)structuralists (Althusser and Foucault, even Žižek) discuss how subjects are both constructions and constructors simultaneously, that the subject is not a complete entity, it is both produced and producing, formalised by its actions within a historical political context. The post-structuralist subject is one of our making, and of previous makers, that we are in fact historical events influenced by previous and current ideas, but also self-creators with the ability to move forward from our constructed position to create anew. This subject then is a product of the dominant forms of knowledge and the limited discourse it allows.
This can be seen in Foucault’s ‘episteme’ - a structuring of knowledge, an overarching concept that limits the possible knowledge available. His enterprise then was to uncover the evolution and historical change of epistemes, what he called ‘archaeology’, saying “what I am attempting to bring to light is the epistemological field… that of its conditions of possibility.” (Foucault, 2002: XXIII-XXIV). An episteme is a set of structural relations between concepts and that it is these epistemes, or structures that produce a subject. However, all is not lost, a Foucauldian theory of the subject contends that subjectivity is a continuous process, subjects are in a continual and dynamic state of ‘becoming’ opening up the possibility of resistance and the possibility of changing the discourse. However, Foucault still contends there is a power over us, a dominating force, a ‘regime of power’, and that these discourses are propped up by the subject itself and the episteme, for him then our “truths… are constructed for us by the same social structures, epistemes, and discourses that give us our identity”. The subject then is at the mercy of ideas which in their power have become all too real, in the words of Max Stirner, “they hovered about me and shook me like the fever dreams, a horrifying power. The thoughts had become embodied for themselves” (Stirner, The Unique and Its Property 1844).
Constructivism makes the point that non-real or objective thoughts are the drivers of social reality, but how do ideas effect the material world? As Stirner points outs thoughts have no bodied existence, no objective or material reality, they are what they are, just thoughts. He argues against a separation of thoughts from their creators, the real corporeal subjects, thoughts must not be allowed to become ‘fixed’ or deterministic constructs, an oppositional thought to subjugate and define individuals. That “no idea has existence, because none is capable of embodiment” (Stirner 2017: 346), so too must “[t]houghts have existence only as the property of… the transitory consciousness of the individual” (Gooch, The Apotheosis of the Corporeal Ego 2006). Foucault too agrees with Stirner that “At the very heart of man is his finitude…he is limited by the various historical forces operating on him.” (Gutting: 2018). Stirner’s ‘fixed idea’ is a construct that has escaped its subject, it has propped itself up as something objective, an illusion, “the phantasms, the 'powers above.'”, that the construct or idea is a power of its own, it is a ghost of the mind which haunts individuals into acting, constructing them, using them. “What, then, is called a “fixed idea”? An idea that has subjected people to itself.” (Stirner, 2017: 38), like Foucault’s episteme, the fixed idea is a regulator on possible knowledge. Stirner (2017) makes out that philosophers in the scholastic tradition, or political newspapers can only put forward ideas within the bounds of the church, or the political realm, unable to escape the limits of the ‘fixed idea’. Finally, the strangling nature of the fixed idea is one that uses, or exploits individuals, it regulates their possibility, it asks something of them, it gives them an essence such as Australian, or “politically right (or left)”, and then says you must do this, or this is good for you. It allows politicians, or movements, or power figures to construct a particular subject and then aim them at a cause.
"From the moment that he sees the world’s light, a human being tries to extract himself from its confusion, in which he too is tossed about along with everything else, and finds himself. But everything that comes in contact with the child also defends itself against these encroachments and maintains its own existence." (Stirner, The Unique and Its Property 1844). For Fichte as we have seen each individual thing (although in his case individual consciousness) must come to know itself through something else (a dependence and relation), an other. This other (being other consciousnesses) allows our own self-consciousness to form through a positing, but the I must posit itself as limited, because there are infact others. Now, we have seen how I disagree with the correlationist who holds that being is known or given atleast in some form through our understanding or structuring. And likewise we must disagree with Hegel - who says "I know every thing as mine, as “I,” that I grasp every object as a member in the system of what I myself am, in short that I have in one and the same consciousness myself and the world, that in the world I find my self again and, conversely, in my consciousness have what is." (Hegel, Philosophy of Spirit 1827). The other contains us and we are just a part of it. Consciousness can only seperate and limit itself from an already existent thing, Hegel here takes from Spinoza, who outlines that all determination is negation, the external world is negated by a splitting, by a seperation, a negative, an unreflective consciousness into a self-reflective conscious. Pure Being, as the world (the other) can never have existence on its own as just a pure abstracted thinghood, nor can pure negativity in self-reflective subjectivity have existence without 'the thing'.
We disagree with Hegel for this very reason, see if we have a singular unity that is sundered, we have the infinite, the singular monism of substance. How do we then have my and your consciousness, we only the the world-consciousness - Well, to Spinoza, we do not really have you and me, we have the world (as God) arranged you wise and the world arranged me wise. Which is to say that the affections (modes and accidents) of the underlying substance (again the underlying realer realness) are you and me. These limited individuals can only ever be seperated off from the whole, just as half an apple is only half if there was a whole apple. Now, I do not exist in the world, I am a part of it. This is to say that I along with you, or a rock, or half an apple am my own part and completely seperate, together a collection, not a seperation of unity. We must also argue agaisnt the Aristotelian (or Cartesian or Spinozist) notion that substance is completely independent, however not from thought, from correlation, but from other existent beings. The individuation is not posited after its self (As the case for the monist, the substance that is the self already exists but is only an individual after it knows itself to be), nor as the time as its individuality (as in Fichte's positing/posited self in the same fact/act of existe3nce), but is individuated before it knows itself to be. See, are you an individual always, you have being as an individual prior to the correlated thought that you are.
Fichte's 'I' posits itself as limited, but for Fichte sadly he denies the possibility of self-limiting, that self-negating 'I' of Stirner. For this we need a Scholastic Philosopher, Henry of Ghent, who holds that individation (or what makes individuals individuals) is brought about through a negation, however, "This negation is not a simple one, but a double negation. For it removes from the inside any possibility for plurification and diversity and removes from the outside any identity, so that in this way the form is called this form, because it is only this form, not having inside of it the possibility to be this and another one." It is the negation that removes from the inside, purges the internal, and from the outside, it dissolves the external. The relation here is with itself, but also with the other, well not just the other, but others. The self-dissolving, the self-negating I that seperates itself not from the whole, but from the other little parts - the plurality of existent objects. We disagree with the Monists (Spinoza, Fichte, Hegel) and instead agree with the Pluralists (Ockham, Descartes, Stirner) that there can actually be distinct individuals that are seperated off from not 'the other', but 'the others'. See for Henry as for Heraclitus and Stirner, the individual has a two fold dialectic, it negates for itself the external others, "removes from the outside any identity", and sets itself up as unique, "it removes from the inside any possibility for plurification and diversity" - it is singular and complete, unique.
This is the same for Heraclitus when he speaks about φύσις which according to Heidegger translates or means 'emerging', the never submerging/concealing thing (i.e. the emerging thing limits itself by what it is not) and at the same time φύσις is joined onto or in a jointure with self-obscuring/concealment. That the emerging thing, in its emergence, emerges from concealment (otherwise it couldn't emerge, it would already be), the emerging thing is in a relation with the never-emerging thing, ultimately for Heidegger this culminates in "that which pulls together with itself while pulling asunder" (1943, 133). In similar fashion we have Stirner's 'Creative Nothing' - that "I... am the creative nothing, the nothing out of which I myself create everything as creator.", here then we could perhaps see the self-obsuring, the concealment is his nothing, in the same way that the sun in concealment is then 'a nothing'. Furthering this nothing and self-concealment Stirner says "the I destroys all, and only the self-dissolving I, the never-being I, the—finite I is actually I". And yet Stirner contends later that "but that I consume myself means only that I am... because in each moment I am really setting up or creating myself for the first time, and am only I, not by being assumed, but by being set up, and again set up only in the moment when I set myself up; i.e., I am creator and creature in one.". Stirner is then the emerging (Creation & Created), and the self-concealing (Nothing, Dissolving 'I'), Stirner's creative nothing, is nother other than Hercalitus's φύσις, the pulling together and dissolution of Itself.
I wish to discuss the notion of "subjects" or more specifically how one can even speak of subjects in the face of my "particularisation", or that everything including each particle is compeletely unique. How then can we have a unified subject that is then itself unique and somehow more than a sum of its parts? I must congratulate Dragonguard on their conception of the (non-)self, through a collection of singular consciousnesses. However, we must disagree. Because the subject cannot be boiled down, it is its own unique thing entirely, beyond the uniqueness of each neuron, or energetic flux. Instead the individual can be seen as a unity or constellation of attitudes from which actions and thoughts evolve. These attitudes for them to constitute the individual have to be accepted, owned, rather than planted there.
The Individual obviously then has to reflect, has to identify with itself to be itself, and one can then be alienated from one's actions because they don't feel owned. I.e. you are addicted to drugs but you want to seek help, you then realise that your current actions that are obviously "your own" (you are the addict), are actually no longer "your own" because you no longer own it, you strip yourself of this action, it is now caused by the addiction and not chosen actions. So the 'get help' choice is now your reflected or owned action. This is perhaps why we could see the community as "an individual" because it has own actions, it seeks to remove the external and sundering actions and thoughts that strip it of its self. But, I am not the community, because my own actions are different from that unified and totalising entity, it has its own actions and thoughts that are unique, separate from mine.
And it then aims to pull me under its wing, what more do external authorities seek to do then make me enthusiastic for them, I as an individual have no private interests, only common, general interests. And yet, what is this interest, is it mine? Or is it perhaps its own? "How does it stand with humanity, whose cause we should make ours? Is its cause perhaps that of another, and does humanity serve a higher cause? No, humanity sees only itself, humanity wants to promote only humanity, humanity itself is its own cause. So that it develops, it lets people struggle away in its service, and when they have accomplished what humanity needs, it throws them on the dung-heap of history in its gratitude. Isn’t humanity’s cause—a purely egoistic affair?" (Stirner, 1844). The communities cause is it own, and it places it over me, so that I am alienated from my own attitudes, I am forced to take own attitudes from an external source.
Stirner is a rather odd fellow, and if I am permitted to use an anachronism, he loves to create Dylanisms which comes from our lovely Poet, Bob Dylan. It expresses the creation of new words to suit the expression required. See, Stirner associates words for the property (such as “Eigentum”) with words connoting distinctive individual characteristics (such as “Eigenheit”), which promotes Hegel's claim that property is expressive of personality. See, there is a part of his work where he speaks about Bees in relation to Germans and their "Hive" of Deutschland - As such the Bees are expressed through their beehood which is “Bienentum”, and the Germans as “Deutschtum", so the "Eigentum" of Stirner is none other than ownhood, that which makes the individual their own. It is not a promised property right of the capitalists, nor it is a possession, a serfdom, it is an individual ownership of ownhood, of all that the individual can and will be.
One should already have worked this out from the title of the work - Der Einzige and Sein Eigentum, The Unique and Its Property - "You, the unique, are “the unique” only together with “your property.” (Stirner, 1845). So the economics systems that strip the individual of their ownership, their owned, their ownhood are terrible systems indeed. Later you will see how Stirner also colours freedom in the clothes of possession, you are given or handed freedom from something else, only when you become an owner and have all that you can have, such as downy beds and proper health are you really "free" or owner of yourself. We see too how his notion of autonomy, of egoism, comes from being ones owner, have the power to be self-directing, agaisnt authority. Stirner's work is very simple, and at times very monotonous because it says the same thing, I wish to be myself, I wish to be able to live my own life. And yet surprisingly Stirner is an evil asshole even though he wants you to have in your life all that you have the capability to have.
Although one must then ask, what exactly is property to Stirner? And one would then get into the oddities, and also the difficulties. Because see, something like the world if it is graspable is the property of you, you deal with the world as if you owned it. Now it may be an other, as the world is only what one is not, but do you not live at the center of your world, is the world not experienced by you from your perspective. Is it not then a plaything of the interested egoist? Do you not deal with your family, your friends for your enjoyment as if there were made for your entertainment? The friend for my wellbeing is as useful as the salt is to my foods palatability, or the chair for my rest. I too deal with you as I wish, and if you no longer bring me joy why would I wish to keep you arround? You are my property, just as I am yours. Deal with me as you wish, it is your interests that matter to you, your property. So too with thoughts and ideas, these constructs are only my thoughts and if I reduce them back to myself, to my thinking then they lose all their power, such that even your thoughts can become mine when I think of them, I can agree or disagree, rearrange them, or ignore your thoughts without asking your permission because the thoughts flying around are like birds that I can catch and deal with as I like.
Now, as you have probably seen on this site, there are a couple of Hegelians, and, as you have seen on this page, there is an avid Anti-Hegelian. But what is an Anti-Hegelian other then a negation of Hegel? This is the position of Stepelevich, and even of Foucault (who argued one may never be able to escape Hegel), we are the Antithesis to his Thesis. I do not see it this way, I instead prefer to side-step Hegel, and by this I choose to see my Hegel in other thinkers, and deal with the shadow of Hegel, how Hegel actually "played out". I choose to utilise Hegel, deal in Hegelian concepts and language, while at the same time showing the absurdities that it achieves. Only by being a Hegelian can we surpass Hegel. But this has said little, what are we actually grabing from Hegel, or these "Hegelians", and what are we adding in to the melting pot? Well if we look to the Hegelians of our age (not actual Hegelians, but rather our Hegelians), what do we find? We find Deleuzian Rhizomes, we find Lacanian Anti-Philosophy and Bahnsian Will, we even find a regress into the Kantian subject. And what do all of these have in common, nothing other than an escape, a final stepping ground beyond Hegel, instead of existing between Scylla and Charybdis, they have decided to become that Odyssian craftsman, that genius fellow that decided stand and fight either Thesis or Antithesis. Our philsophers think they have to choose as well, either the negation or the positing. Odysseus lost men and nearly went down himself, will we not learn from Him?
Yes, will we not comfortably sit ourselves between, will we not negate nor posit, not stand and fight or break and run? Although it must then be asked, if we do nothing how will we get home to our Ithaca, our final synthesis? Oh but at this you will hear terrible screams and shouts from our Hegelians that they do not wish to get home either, they dispise the totality of the synthesis... I think I hear them now - "No we must have free flowing desire", "We must have no higher stage, it is futile", "The negation is all we need, you must negate", Yes if only these werent our homes. But in perfect Ithaca we have the suitors in Deleuze, not worring about Odysseus's return stuffing their faces with any desire that comes their way. Then, the Swineherd, eternally denying the return, this is what gives him solice, that he perpetually denies. And finally, and our sweet Penelope who fails to see the final triumph of her Husband, hoping for his return is futile (and yet she proceeds though the dialectic anyway). We could even include Telemachus here, who goes in search of his father, the prior, any news of the great end, the Kantian reviver. Yes, all these dialectics are their own Synthesis, the goal of the synthesis is the remove the contradiction, does Deleuze not do this by saying 'what contradiction', does Bahnsen not do this when he argues that the contradiction is resolved by negation alone? So why put up all this energy to critique Hegel if you just replicate him? Should we not take a page out of Stirner's book... oh but I have, have I not just shown you it? Have I not just used your argument agaisnt you, I have demolished your system with itself, you posit a negation, I negate a positing. But I do not negate a negation, the old Hegelian synthesis, because none of our thinkers actually create a negation, they skip right away to the synthesis, which is itself a new posit, the dialectic rolls on. So, in this you better "Look sharp or step aside", I for one intend to step aside, all our thinkers have dressed to kill, and guess who's dying?
In true Hegelian fashion then, let us posit a dialectic through history. Beginning with the Ancients (or if you prefer a human analogy, a child) we have the worldly philosophers. Greek thought begins the Poets, who in fear of the real world, the other (a power unto itself), had to get behind this truth, as such the Gods were given their roles over all the worldly affairs, so one could mitigate the terrible power of the world by offering to the Gods. Yet this position could not hold, the Milesians in turn began to rationalise the world, it was still an other but no longer were the gods everywhere. The materialistic and mechanistic realities of the Pre-socratics quickly turned into vain appearance, mere phenomenon - "What was first taken for existence, such as the world and its like, now seems like mere appearance, and the truly existent is rather the essence, whose realm is filled with gods, spirits, demons, i.e., with good or bad essences. Only this inverted world, this world of essences, now truly exists." (Stirner, The Unique and Its Propery 1844). This step was first taken by Plato, who in his great wisdom realised that if the world is a mess of constantly changing or relative experiences (i.e. the wind is cold for you, warm for me), or that day becomes nights, or alive becomes dead, then you'd never be able to have a stable foundation for this 'truth'. So, Plato got behind this truth, and posited a realer world, a world of forms, the light that produces only shadows in the sensible world.
This consciousness developed itself until its breaking point, the Stoics couldn't stand for this 'other' and so abandoned the 'real' world in favour of their own, their own little sphere of mind. The mind, the understanding, the spirit was now more important, it was all in all for them. However, they still admitted of a real, they didn't just accept their ideal world. It was only when the skeptics made the final break and said the other can't give us information, we only have our own, our thoughts, our ideas, our ideals. Ancient consciousness ends here, their search for the ideal never concluded, they were always stuck with the other no matter how much they tried to escape (Seeing as the skeptics had to admit the other in order to be skeptical about it). But this consciousness made way for the Moderns, those Christian thinkers who were spiritual philosophers. For them, they already had their ideal, the heaven above, the good life. If only they could realise this ideal, if only they could bring heaven onto earth - "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." They lived as spirit only, their body nothing but a worldly fetter, a tie, that would break and allow their 'real' self to reach the realer heaven. This is religion, the positing of an ideal up and above the real, because you aren't just a spirit, because you aren't ideal, you are through and through real, you can never reach this ideal and are stuck in an endless pursuit. This principle exists in all our thinkers, even those most god-hating atheists. Don't they tell that the current world is wrong, if only we could set it right and fix everything? If only we could reach the right world, whether this be communism, fascism, democracy, freedom, happiness, social equality.
Doesn't every thinker live in their thoughts, their thought-world. Haven't they imagined for themselves a perfect little heaven and if only we all act in accordance to their holy scripture and fall in line, this heaven can be reached? Every plan of action deals with the ideal, they are idealistic through and through. No matter how much they attest to their sensuous analysis of conditions, they wish to progress from the sense to the non-sense (the Ideal), they treat of the ideal as if it were more real, it is the correct system, the right attitude, the truth of things, etc. But we can't just return to those ancients who were trapped with the real in all its terrible power. As I said, the child treated the real world as a power, as a parent. But the child grows and has a world of thoughts to deal with. They learn and have their own ideas of what they want, this is the idealist of our age (for two thousand years), the adolescent. But does not the modern fall down and bow before this new power? Is not the Ideal the proper course of action, should we not all fall in line and follow it's doctrines? Do our philosophers not wish for Freedom, isn't the history of spirit the finding of this freedom? Yes freedom from the world, but a new terrible power of Spirit, of otherwordly thoughts has taken its place. Then there are those mature fellows that are able to break away from these 'thoughts', and treat them as creations, of course thinking can never be done away with because it is a process, but once it is done throw them away as you wish. Treat of ideas and ideals as just that, property, along with this 'real' world. Both can be utilised as I wish, they are not seperate powers but exist for me. The ideal can never become the real, because it would then no longer be the ideal, we would be stuck with the real again (that is if the ideal can ever be brought down from heaven), while the real could never be idealised, because then it would no longer be the real. All of you are trapped in your own little heavens that you wish to bring about. Why don't we break and step out of this theological dialectic?
If we're to peer back at the conception of the Christian Faith, we have a melting pot of Hellenistic Customs and Morals, Transcendental Philosophy (Platonism, Stoicism, etc.), and Theological Judaism. However, would one not also see "humanity", the historical figures and concrete thinkers. If one were looking for the birth of the Christian Projection then they would have to locate it within these existent historical figures, one would have to 'climb the ladder of divine ascent' to get from humanity to Divinity. To the Young Hegelians (and one oldie, Strauss) the location of this "humane divine", the lowest rung of the ladder was the historical Jesus. The figure who even devoid of myths, miracles, and prophecies could only be identified with the reconciliation of the Ideal, or God, with man, the real.
Jesus was the bringing down of God into humanity, he was the inward inflection of God within us, Christ's light is in you. God had to be brought down to us, and yet for the Young Hegelians, this couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, to the Hegelians the early Christians were nothing but mystified madmen who saw the essence above them, they transformed Man into God, the great projection of Man's essential features. Obviously, one would have to start with the Man-God (Jesus), or could we just have the Man, it would be hard to escape theological implications even within the historical Jesus, or the Hellenists. Although if we're merely treating of the concrete historical figures and their relation to the birth of Christianity, then one may perhaps start with the positive in Man, and the following negative in the subject of the Lord, the God-Man. But what would be our glorious Sublation, our 'negation of the negation', be in order to bring about the "true positive" - well none other than the bringing down of the divine, of God into humanity.
Yes, we must make Man into the supreme being, we must realise the divinity not of God, but of Man. We just return to the origin of the Christian Faith, the projection of the concrete figures onto the universal and "objective". We must return the "highest essence" to its rightful place, an inward essence of each human, no longer is Christ within you, but the human essence, the humane spirit. Our dialectic once again has produced nothing, no progress, no change, only a conceptual difference that was formed by our decision to start with just "Man" from the beginning. If the Young Hegelians accepted the Man-God from the begenning, the dialectic would've really gone nowhere. And yet here we sit in our circle of philosophy and pat ourselves on the back that we have really cast of the "powers above" the crazy spirituality of Chritianity, and yet what do we have? A replacement of the universal, the abstract, the Ideal and the alien with the very same, just under a new name of "Humanity" instead of "Divinity".
Let's talk about Ideology, the Subject, and Young Hegelian Philosophy. First we have to start with Hegel's notion of the 'Unhappy Consciousness', which outlined how the consciousness is divided in itself. The Stoic acknowledged the other, but wished to retreat from it, the Skeptic in realisation of the other denied it, thereby affirming it. It is a sundering of the consciousness into the infinite/ideal and the finite/real, the essential and non-essential. The Young Hegelians continued this analysis into Religion. It began with David Strauss, who being the lynchpin of the Young Hegelians held that the miracles of the Bible were myths. Solutions to the Jewish Prophecies that allowed Human Consciousness a connection with God, the Infinite, the other. Jesus as the human embodiment of God, i.e. the incarnation of God had brought this opposition of ideal and real to a conclusion. The church needed the miracles to explain the connection between the historical Jesus and the divine prophecies. Strauss argued that the idea that 'infinite reason' or 'the absolute' could be incarnated within a finite human being was particularly absurd. Thus, he removed the connection between Man and God. He seperated out Humanity and Divinity, and once again set the ideal up and agaisnt the real.
Ludwig Feuerbach then argued that the believer is presented with a doctrine that encourages the projection of ideals onto the world. Believers are encouraged to believe in miracles, and to idealize all their weaknesses by imagining an omnipotent, omniscient, immortal God who represents the antithesis of all human flaws and shortcomings. He argued that religion had caused this devision, a cognitive dissonance, with the separation of humans from their essential human nature. People misidentify as an objective being what in actuality is a man-made projection of their own essential predicates. For Feuerbach, God is Man's essence abstracted, absolutized and estranged from Man. Man creates the idea of God by gathering the best features of his human nature – his goodness, knowledge and power – glorifying them, and projecting them into a beyond. Man is alienated from himself not because he refuses to recognize nature as a self-alienated form of God, but because he creates, and puts above himself, an imagined alien higher being and bows before him as a slave. The Ideal (God) is seperated from the "Real" (Man).
Bruno Bauer also views religion as a division in Man's consciousness. To him, Man suffers from the illusion that religion exists apart from and independent of his own consciousness, and that he himself is dependent on his own creation. Again, like Feuerbach, religion deprives Man of his own attributes and places them in a heavenly world. Self-consciousness makes itself into an object, a thing, loses control of itself, and feels itself to be nothing before an opposing power. Hegel would call these figures those 'beautiful souls', "These contradicted atheistic souls... locked in the shape of religious consciousness and seeing themselves in alien form, were unable to reconcile their ideals to the reality of the given world... In short, it is the mind of the frustrated revolutionary idealist and reformer, who, driven to seek an ideal 'better world' (be it present in either Heaven or in a future world), was nevertheless forced to live in the actual world." (Stepelevich, Max Stirner on the Path of Doubt 2020). The Young Hegelians thought they were the third step in their new historical dialectic (Hegel's History took a four split division, not the usual triadic approach), It went Greco-Roman, Christian-Germanic, and finally the new Humanist Future.
They who knew religion to be the the ultimate alienation, that splits the ideal from the real 'Man' would be reconfigured into another alienation, another unhappy consciousness, in which 'man' was seperated out from actual individuals. Strauss, Feuerbach, and Bauer all discuss how religion alienates humanity from itself, that God is a projection of human values and attributes. That the external idea of religion is an illusion, a myth, a projection of consciousness. All Stirner does really, is to say that every ideal alienates the individual. If God is a projection of Man, Man is a projection of a unique individual. The idea of human nature being stripped and placed in God is the same as saying that an individual's nature was stripped and placed into humanity. Any external idea is a creation of an individual mind, and only has power if that individual accepts it as truth, as real consciousness. Stirner argues that the idealist has become dependent on their own thoughts. Only an idea that an individual accepts as real, but it is really just an imagined, alien, higher, belief just like religion. How strange, Stirner just says any obligation or demand from any idea is exactly the same as religion? So Stirner goes to the extreme of the Hegelian Philosophy. He returns to Hegel and turns on Feuerbach and co. Going from their from religion to 'religio' (The original latin word) defined as a'conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation, or duty towards anything', 'scrupulous or strict observance'. Is now morality, the laws, even legel contracts strict observacnce, a duty? IS not than any request on an individual an alienation of their individuality?
Marx (and Engels) in my opinion regress or remove a lot of Stirner's extreme points, although, writings of Marx and Engel about human nature predate Stirner's major work. Karl Marx's theory describes the alienation of people from aspects of their human nature, which Marx calls species-being (which was developed through Feuerbach and even critiqued by Stirner in a off-comment) as a consequence of the division of labor and living in a society of stratified social classes. The alienation from the self is a consequence of being a mechanistic part of a social class, the condition of which estranges a person from their humanity. The theoretical basis of alienation is that the worker invariably loses the ability to determine their own life and when deprived of the right to think of themselves as the director of their own actions; to determine the character of said actions; to define relationships with other people; and to own those items of value from goods and services, produced by their own labour.
Marx obviously flipped the alienation on its head, and instead of saying individuals are removed or alienated due to mental states, they are instead alienated objectively by material conditions. Being a cog-in-the-machine reduces the individual to nothing, it removes the humanity from the individual just as God removed the humanity from Man. Obviously we also have the Stirnerite point here that the individual can no longer be autonomous, self-creating, value-creating, cannot associate freely (trapped in society) and can't choose items or property that constitute their objectivity. Both Marx and Stirner completely agree on alienation and the importance of removing alienation from life. But they disagree on the practical philosophy, Stirner was apolitical, anti-revolution, anti-action etc. He argued that all of these things were just new Ideals that were seperated from the actual real life of the individual. Marx's solution to Young Hegelian Idealism was to create new Ideals. Now, He had a solution that only formed in The German Ideology (i.e. after Stirner), historical materialism, a teleological and deterministic solution which removes the Ideal, the coming of communism will be real because it is a historical process. And yet wouldn't that remove the point of Marx's writings? Let alone finding class consciousness, or the revolution. Even Marxist's realise the nonsense of historical materialism, it's just a coverup for a real actor who has to reach out and secure the ideal. Marx has recreated the Unhappy Consciousess in his solution to False Consciousness.
We saw earlier that a proposed solution to the Ideal/Real division was Marx's 'Historical Materialism', the idea that there is an end to history, that everything has its purpose in the conclusion. i.e. Cynicism was only important because it led to Stoicism, or christianity was an important aspect in the self-consciousness of human nature, contra. Bauer. Marx obviously drew on the Hegelian Teleology, which held the purpose and promise of history as the total negation of everything conducive to restricting freedom and reason. Freedom was the end goal of Hegel's System, and it need not, like the Young Hegelians propose, to be brought about through action but will eventually get there as a historical necessity. This teleological approach, that something was "meant to be" or "happened for a reason" or even worse, that something happened only to reach the next step as if we couldn't just skip there.
So freedom is our endgoal, it is the sole totality of our history. A Lyotardian 'Grand Narrative'. This is the solution to the ideal, that we will reach it, not through a striving a splitting of the real and the ideal, but just as a future real. Yes, just like the child will grow up to be an adult, what sort of adult, we cannot know. That we will one day reach the 'end'. This is perhaps the most perfect form of 'Whig History', the liberty of the ancients is second-par to that of the Moderns. History is one long chain of progress from barbarism and despotism to radical freedom (ironically it was used by the whigs to promote their current real government). However, there are users on this site who promote this from of teleology, in the form of accelerationism. The State much the same for William Godwin will eventually wither away, or capitalism will end itself through its own contradictions. Except that accelerationism is far worse, because it combines both aspects. It is inevitable, but at the same time, we need to accelerate, we have to reach this real, it is not enough for it to come about, but instead of reaching the ideal, we are reaching the real through a set of ideal actions. So we still have to 'reach' the ideal, the actual process of acceleration.
What is Art? What is Beauty? Well, not to spark a controversy but art and beauty are creative objects (not only in the physical sense, but also including any existent thing such as a performance, or action) that reflect their creator, it gives them a medium to express their uniqueness. Only they (meaning either individual or community) could have created that object of art - "the rest remain egoistic, because no one can, for example, produce your musical compositions, carry out your painting projects, etc., in your place: Nobody can replace Raphael’s works. The latter are the works of a unique individual, which only he is capable of achieving" (Stirner, The Unique and Its Property 1844). But what is it exactly that the object is reflecting, what is the creator expressing? To Hegel and Bauer, art is a reflection of the beauty of our own conscious freedom and rationality, a sensuous (i.e. an object) expression of who we are currently. Bauer, in turn, argues that it is only art and philosophy (excluding religion) that expresses the Absolute of Hegel (as opposed to all three in Hegel) and that these constitute the actuality of reason in the historical process. While someone like Chernyshevsky (A russian nihilist) thought that art and beauty were creative reflections or imitations of reality, the already "objective" in order to prompt memories of the real experience of life, which will we add that experience is perhaps unique to each person.
But is art only expressible in the actual? To be fair, art can only be actual, because we only have access to the already existent art and cannot really have potential art. But does art have to merely historically express the actual, or can actual art express the inactual? Say someone like a utopian novel, this is actual, it exists, but it also reflects not what an individual is, or a community, but rather what they hope to be, yearn to be. Can not art also reflect that longed for Ideal? "Now, as soon as man suspects that he has another side of himself within himself, and that he is not enough in his mere natural state, then he is driven on to divide himself into that which he actually is, and that which he should become... Upon the awakening of that suspicion, man strives after and longs for the second other man of the future, and will not rest until he sees himself before the shape of this man from the other side... For a long time, along with other groping and dumb others in that darkness, the artistic genius seeks to express this presentiment. What no other succeeds in doing, he does, he presents the longing, the sought after form, and in finding its shape so creates the — Ideal. For what is then the perfect man, man’s proper character, from which all that is seen is but mere appearance if it be not the Ideal Man, the Human Ideal? The artist alone has finally discovered the right word, the right picture, the right expression of that being which all seek. He presents that presentiment — it is the Ideal. ‘Yes! that is it! that is the perfect shape, the appearance that we have longed for, the Good News — the Gospel. The one we sent forth so long ago with the question whose answer would satisfy the thirst of our spirit has returned!’ So hail the people that creation of genius, and then fall down — in adoration." (Stirner, Art and Religion 1842).
Now, for Stirner we obviously see that art is the creator of the Ideal, the longed for reflection of the individual. But how does the individual or community actually "discover" or hope for the other side of themself, why not be realistic and not strive for unobtainable ideals? Well just as the man is the future of the boy, he obviously hopes to be a good one, but in all reality he will only ever be himself - "As great as you are a man, you'll never be greater than yourself" (Dylan, Love and Theft 2001). The future ideal is again like Heaven, it cannot be brought down from Heaven unto Earth. For this we should look to an example (if a myth could in any way be classified as an example) - Narcissus was punished to be never be able to acheive cossumation in his love, to never be able to reached what he longed for. He was tricked into looking at his own reflection and fell in love, and upon realising that this other was in fact himself, the other side of himself, that which he wishes for, he became enraptured by his own looks. But, obviously being a reflection, Narcissus could not embrace his love, his Ideal - How could he endure both to possess and yet not possess? Now the myth plays out that Narcissus dies at his reflection, eithe rkilling himself or dying to age before the Ideal is ever acheived. But do we not see Stirner's other side, the Ideal reflection of the individual? The Myth is perhaps too perfect and makes me wonder why Stirner didn't use it, but you know... I will. See, Stirner's picture of art is wrapped up in the German Romantics, who yes focused on the individual, but also on the striving, the aimless and endless striving after the Absolute, the non-realisable Ideal.
But I do not think we can have a picture of art so one-sided, we too must have the other side within art itself - and to find this will look to Greek Poetry in general (tragedy in particular). Who else could sum up the perfect relationship between the real and the ideal but the tragedy of the greeks, those pitiful actors who must deal with their mortality and suffering while the Gods toy around in their squabling and game-playing. The juxtaposition between the longed for lives of the Gods and the terrible reality of their own mortal existence. So too with even the Greek Philosophers, did not the Cynics argue that the Gods required nothing and so gave up everything themselves, like as ascetics. Did not Epicurus also long to live as his God, that transcendent figure who lived without trouble and pain? Homer and Hesiod put on full display the opposition between the lives of mortal men and the carelessness of the Greek Pantheon. The people in all these displays, like the German Romantics, know they never obtain the Ideal but still strive after it, but what seperates the Greeks from the Germans is the acknowledegment of the real actions that come from the striving, and the true reality of their own lives. They exist as actual figures who can obtain their own possibility or capability. However, I do not wish to fully agree with these artists either.
Instead, I wish to look at one last figure who I think combines the views of Hegel, Chernyshevsky, Stirner, The Romantics, and the Greeks. This figure is my artist of choice, Bob Dylan, who expresses in the same work a perpetual longing for a better self, Another Side of Bob Dylan, but also a historical reflection of himself, an actual picture of Bob Dylan. Now, one would be hard pressed to actually find the true meaning in any Bob Dylan song, it is elusive, just like the man himself. Dylan dispises the media, and usually jokes about, never revealing anything, but at the same time has always expressed himself completely. His persoanlity, his music, his lifestyle always change, Dylan himself is an exaggerated example of a unique individual who is beyond description and his life truly expresses just the type of man he is... Bob Dylan. He has songs almost demanding a better world, the Ideal, and other works that are reflections of the pain he has experienced, the actual feelings of the actual Bob. And yet again, there are songs that reflect the man Bob longs to be, but can never be. In a truly fascinating inversion, Stirner talks about the Adolescent being the dreamer, the age where the child grows up and realises the power of their mind and obviously longs to be the Man in the end, the figure who has acheive the Ideal. Bob in return, dealing with his "voice of generations" phase, which is perhaps his most Idealistic, but at the same time most truthful reflection of the current world, sings "Ah, but I was so much older then I'm younger than that now". In the usual direction, Bob deals with fact that those older deal with more serious issues, he acted maturely, but for Bob, too maturely, he was too old for who he actually was.
Bob's songs are creative objects that only Bob could create, they deal with Bob's conscious reflection of himself as a free individual who can be whoever he wants, they reflect the real experiences of reality (his actual life), they reflect the man Bob sometimes hopes to be, and they reflect the Ideal world that bob wishes to be a part of. Art then is an object of self-reflection that expresses both the real, but also at the same time the ideal. It is a process of continual striving that can never purely reflect either Reality or the Absolute.
Obviously one would have to question why I have taken such an interest in the ancients seeing as Hegel and all the Hegelians thought them to be the procreators of the modern world, so says Stirner in his ironic retelling of the Phenomenology - "The ancients themselves were the ones who gave birth to the young one who carried them to the grave. So let’s eavesdrop on this procreative act." Obviously to Stirner, the dialectic is not a forward marching pursuit of freedom, because the current modern freedom is just another sort of tyranny. 'The Liberty of Ancients Compared with that of Moderns' is a non-question, a non-topic, we have transferred wordly tyrrany to the absolute power of spirit, of ideas. Stirner does not think we have gone anywhere, except perhaps we have abadoned our whole self, the body shunned away. I would much rather argue for something else entirely, I wish do not wish to return to the ancients for their teleological imput in the process of Christianity, but instead speak about the non-Christian philosophy of the ancients. Language, concepts, philosophy, everyday experiences everywhere have been corrupted by thoroughly Christian ideas and ideals.
Even the great anti-Christians, Sade, Stirner, and Nietzsche are trapped in this form of discourse, they have to push back using the Christian language - "He [Stirner] had to struggle so much with a language that was corrupted by philosophers, abused by believers in the state, in religion, in whatever else, and which had made ready a boundless confusion of ideas." (Stirner, The Philosophical Reactionaries 1847). Heidegger also comments on this in his work on Heraclitus, that metaphysics, being, life, etc. have been transformed by two millennia of Christian thinkers, no one can ever return to a thinking prior to Christianity. And yet with the ancients we can hope to peer in and steal a glance at this wonderful thinking, these wordly discourses. But one must not fall into the trap of idealising this thinking, nor of thinking anachronistically, but most importantly and quite ironically, one cannot think of them as they did, we will always be a little anachronistic. The first and last sin of history here however is the teleological thinking, that Hegelian progress that pushed the ancients into a Christian backstory, yes the ancient consciousness's sole purpose was to rise from a crude thinking of things to the wholly spiritual, thinking in itself, in order to break with the world and rise above it. No, the ancient thinking was through and through its own, they sought a world life, the true life, the good life.
It is quite strange that an important influence on Stirner was Goethe's Faust, because Stirner's work isa complete reversal of the Faustian Spirit. The Fuastian Spirit is a dissatisfaction with ones current position, and then a striving for better or more. And yet, one can only be dissatisfied with the current if they are longing for the future. The Ideal once again rears its ugly head and the cost of the real, the current. You must always make something of yourself, this is why suicide is a sin, because your life is for the Lord - "Her sin is her lifelessness" (Dylan, 1965), or your service is for the country (conscription, or perhaps the crime of cowardice). You cannot have your life, but instead must seek another. Such that you actually long for the otherside of yourself, you can only live once you have this "perfect" you, your true life will only happen then.
You cannot deal with life as it comes, but must always worry about what it will be, or that in fact it wont be. You are dissatisfied with your current, because you think you have to have the future, that your current "life" is only ever a tool for you to have a better life later. But when will you reach this "better" life, well obviously later, but you will always be dissatisfied. So you will never have your life, and in the process of finding it, you give up your current living. Your striving and searching leads to nothing, and wastes your own, and only existence. I do not seek "the good life", nor a "better life", these are not my causes, instead my cause is my own, and I am already my own and thus the search is finally over. Beyond here lies nothing, nothing but myself.
Is the ascetic not a hedonist? Is Schopenhauer's reduction of suffering through ascetic practices not just a negative hedonism, the very same as Epicureanism? Did the Cynics not also seek Eudaimonia (well-being, happiness, flourishing, etc.) as their main goal, and did they not do this through their idea of freedom, which to them is self-sufficiency, not being tied down by conventions or property or wealth? The ascetic through their shedding of wordly values gains their soul - “What would it profit a man if he gained the whole world but lost his soul?”. And yet is not the soul their precious Ideal? Obviously to Schopenhauer the goal was to abandon the will, forget the self and cut off the willing, and wouldn't one be more able to be self-forgetful if they didn't seek themselves but instead sought another? Well, one could argue this is exactly what the spiritual ascetic does - they seek their soul as if they didn't have it already, or as if they weren't soulless.
However, what about that egoistic figure that seeks the sacred and Ideal world, the egoist who forgets that the world is theirs. See the duped egoist values the "higher", they do not remove their wants, their goods, they remove themself. But the conscious egoist lives in their world and enjoys it, do you not love your friends and family and gain from them without even noticing, or when you are involving yourself in reading or the watching of "spectacles", doesn't your self-consciousness dissipate, don't you forget yourself in the enjoyment of all that you own and use? But it doesn't escape you that these things are also their own and exist without your blessing, you only own them when you a conscious of your ownership - "therefore all things are the property of the wise" (Letters of Crates). The ascetic does no other than enjoy life, seek their "good life". And I will take a page from their book, I will remove the dependency of property when it no longer serves me, when I find myself placing wealth higher than myself, when it traps me in. But will I not also dogmatically value the state of poverty as if it could solve all my problems, or does it create its own dependency, a reduction of my life to a slave of poverty?
The ascetic seeks freedom, freedom from desire, and yet, they throw themselves in with another slavery. This slavery is a religious one, a rejection of the sensuous and a glorification of the spiritual. The individual self is to be subsumed by a greater purpose in a kind of spiritual asceticism. Again to someone like the Russian Nihilist and revolutionary, Sergey Nechayev, "A revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no private interests, no affairs, sentiments, ties, property nor even a name of his own." - His sole purpose is to the [cause], the overarching principle that is holier than thou, a sacred or supreme being that must never be questioned. Again, I do not wish to give myself up, however, if I am to be all in all, my own cause, then nothing external can place its fetters on me, the ties that bind. The believer or spiritual ascetic, again forgets themself in otherwordly affairs, they withdraw into their own internal or inner world of perfect thoughts and Ideal heavens. I intend to remain in this world, my world, live a embodied full existence. I will not remove my private interests, but instead, embrace them with my whole being, the blind passion for the higher cause is not mine to have and to hold.
On the notion of this autonomy and dependency, alienating my own "will to freedom" if the cynics could be said to have held such an idea, I wish to look at the other sort of Hedonist, the positive or pleasure seeking one. We have previously spoken of sacrifice, and that only the conscious egoist can "truly" give up something, because they have an interest in both but must choose to abandon one for the other. But I never sacrifice myself, I always remain the enjoyer, the owner of myself even if it leads to my death, because that death was more enjoyable than existence without the other interest. All this proves is that my passion for love is stronger than any other passion, and so too does the Christian teach that all the sinful passions of vice should be sacrificed for the true passion of Christian love. But, in this, love looks no different to any other passion that I blindly follow - Chains of love, won't let me be. They keep haunting, haunting me. Free my mind, from their vice" (Cale, 2004). If I "enjoyed" or rather had an addiction to drugs and could not give it up. would this not be the same as love? Do I not sacrifice all the other enjoyments of my life for this singular passion?
The individual that is swept away by a passion is a slave, their extreme enjoyment of a singular or even a select few passions removes the possibility of other enjoyments, it limits actions, it creates enslavement and dependency on the passion of choice. If you cannot break away from the passion, it controls you, it is now above you, higher, and you reduce yourself before it, the individual "has let this passion grow into a tyrant against which he gives up all power of breaking off: he has given up himself, because he cannot break off and therefore cannot release himself from the passion: he is possessed." (Stirner, 1844). The passion of poverty has encaptured the cynic, just as the passion for political utopia has possessed the political thinker, or sexual pleasure for the libertine - you are all trapped in your passions. And this is where the true ascetism comes in, the individual must be ready to detach themself from their many fetters, their ties and bonds, and be able to remove themself not from their possessions as the old ascetic would do, but from being a possession, from being possessed.
What better passion exists than vice? Well, one would have to ask themself, what exactly vice is? Well it would be a corrupted or wicked soul, a person who is tempted away from the moral life. Except, doesn't one have to be tempted by the moral life as well? If you were a sinner full of vice, and the good man came to you in your time of need to bring you to the light, what would that virtuous figure do? Well, we find that the virtue is propped up like any other temptation, it is wholly good to be Holy. Instead of serving the Devil, you are now serving the Lord - "But you're gonna have to serve somebody. Yes indeed, you're gonna have to serve somebody. Well it may be the Devil, Or it may be the Lord, But you're gonna have to serve somebody" (Dylan, 1979). And obviously, if you wanted to start being good, you'd have to hide away your "ugliness" and lie about your previous misdeeds, which in itself is vicious act.
No one can commit virtue except out of vice, you can only ever be won over through your own selfishness. The good "passions" those radiant virtues are none other than accepted vices. Even if one doesn't believe in this likeness, one would still have to contend that one "follows" virtues, “Lying is bad, but honesty is good, impenitence is evil, but contrition and remorse are good, not being chaste is a sin, but chastity is a virtue, etc.” (Stirner, 1843) - Let us take the example of sexual depravity, or maybe a drug addiction, or perhaps it doesn't really matter. See, the individual who is "trapped" within their vicious cycle of vices is possessed, while the virtuous figure who abstains from both of these activities even if they wish to (like the figure who wishes to escape their addiction) cannot, because they are possessed by virture. The virtuous life has prevented them from their own actions, it says NO to you, but only yes to itself. The individual in their "pursuit" of the virtuous life has lost their own.
A recent (as in 21st century) French philosopher named Michel Onfray has argued that we need to abandon the Idealist perception of ethics, metaphysics, and the attitude of the body. Instead we must return to an embodied material outlook proposed by Democritus and Epicurus in order to create a Hedonistic Humanism (I am not going to discuss the Humanism, but you probably already know my opinion). Onfray according to his work A Hedonist Manifesto warns of the lure of attachment to the purportedly eternal, immutable truths of idealism, which detracts from the immediacy of the world and our bodily existence. Insisting that philosophy is a practice that operates in a real, material space. Yes, and very much like Feuerbach he clothes his "new philosophy" in the absolute garb of the old Idealist paradigm, "As little as people let themselves be persuaded that one could live on the “spiritual” alone without bread, so little will they believe him that as a sensuous being one is already everything, and so spiritual, full of thoughts, etc." (Stirner, 1844)
Sure, I agree with embodiment, I am a whole fellow after all and don't exist as just a spirit, but neither do I exist as body alone, or atleast as a purely sensuous thing. Do I not also have thoughts? Do I not also gain enjoyment of myself by thinking, by imagining a whole world for myself (although once again, we have dealt with this above - see 'Historical Dialectics' for my discussion of the idealist mindset), by having self-enjoyment of my own thoughts? The materialist would argue I am removing my emmbodiment as if thought didn't exist in a material mind, or that the embodied individual wasn't thinking. And yet Onfray specifically targets those "eternal" truths of the mind. Do I not also attack the absolute and eternal and still retain my thinking, my "idealism". I remove the Ideal yes, but I enjoy thinking, not as pure thoughts but as individual creations. I can enjoy myself as a "bodily" thing just as much as I can enjoy myself as a "thinking" thing. My thinking, just like material objects of property, or my own body can be used as a tool for "my self-enjoyment" (a title of a chapter in Stirner 1844).
We have spoken at length about how the Ideal is an obligation for the individual, the normative or prescriptive demand of the individual to be something else - "The Ideal says not what one is, but rather what one should be." (Me). We also spoke about how this other is "oneself" or another side of oneself - "Now, as soon as man suspects that he has another side of himself within himself, and that he is not enough in his mere natural state, then he is driven on to divide himself into that which he actually is, and that which he should become." (Stirner, Art and Religion 1842). The Obligation to become only works if one wants to be this other, wants this change to come about. The Ideal is the perfect self that we all search for. Only through this selfish desire do we do anything that is asked of us. An Ideal is presented, the moral man, the good citizen, the holy Christian, the right friend, etc.
On this we agree with R. M. Hare, who details a meta-ethical view that moral claims do not express truth values, such that a moral action is actually in reality, morally good or bad, but rather a demand, a prescribing view. Hare believes that the central purpose of moral talk is to guide behavior by telling someone what to do. Its main purpose is to "prescribe" a certain act. To illustrate the prescriptivist view, consider the moral sentence "Suicide is wrong." According to moral realism, such a sentence claims there to be some objective property of "wrongness" associated with the act of suicide. According to some versions of emotivism, such a sentence merely expresses an attitude of the speaker; it only means something like "Boo on suicide!" But according to prescriptivism, the statement "Suicide is wrong" means something more like "Do not commit suicide." What it expresses is thus not primarily a description or an emotion, but an imperative.
When it comes to the distinction between normative ethics, such as Deontological Ethics (rule based ethics), and Consequentialist Ethics, the best example being Utilitarianism. However, doesn't utilitarianism say that actions are good only when they promote the general well-being, and doesn't going agaisnt this maxim produce morally wrong actions? So we have a rule "do x" or "do actions that promote the general well-being", is this not a rule which when followed as a duty produces ethical actions. How do we have a consequentialist ethics being exactly the same as action based ethics? One could even throw in Virtue Ethics which says that one commits moral actions if they are virtuous, ah so, it says "do x", "do virtuous actions". Only when one follows rules will they have ethical action. All normative ethical systems prescribe or demand certain actions in relation to an Ideal, and as an Individual who heads towards themself, who seeks their own self-enjoyment (like all of you) you seek this Ideal, who among you anti-individualists, or anti-hedonists, or moral dogmatists wishes to remove degeneracy, wishes to have a better society? Do you not want these things, are you not selfishly seeking your own betterment through the betterment of something else? You have been duped, you are told you are such and such, a lacking individual who needs to improve, this is the Ideal of morality, of politics, of culture.
Now, don't assume my position, I do not demand that you become conscious of your egoism, become selfish, etc. I do not wish to set up a new Ideal. Nor do I hold a view of human nature (if there was such a thing) which says that every human is selfish by birth, the position known as 'pyschological egoism' which is a form of moral psychology. Rather, like Stirner, I hold that individuals are unique and will follow their own unique natures. This is a spin on psychological egoism, instead I hold that individual X will act Xly, or that Stirner will always act in a Stirnerite way. That is also to say that an Individual could be the most altruistic, society loving, and community supporting person or they could be a live in the woods, kill other people type person and I would hold that they are both "egoists". Second, I also split unique individuals (or egoists) into conscious and unconscious, again being a idiosyncratic version of 'Rational Egoism'. This distinction holds that there are egoists who are conscious of the fact that every thing they do is for themselves, as opposed to the unconscious egoist who falsely believes they are fulfilling another cause while they are secretly fulfilling their own desires for happiness and security.
Along with this line, conscious egoism can only come about by being conscious, self-concious of your own egoism, you must be "intellectual" about your own wants and goods. This is why I follow a form of Moral Intellectualism - This is a view that Individuals will willingly do what is good/right when they know the good. Socrates himself held that "one will do what is right or best just as soon as one truly understands what is right or best”. However, I also add in Stirner’s notion of Uniqueness and Conscious Egoism to form a view that Individuals will always head towards what they 'know' to be in their best interest. So the duped egoist who is convinced or told something is in their best interest, i.e. You undertsand yourself to be a good Christian, and obviously you will try to remain holy, even if it makes you unhappy. As such, the egoist would never willingly desire what is opposed to their uniqueness, that only those duped egoists will follow Ideals because they fail to realise their own ‘good’, they are surprisingly unconscious of what is best for them. However, this is not to say they act contrary to their own nature, they still heads towards themselves, although it is through external means, the individual who follows the law as something moraly good, sacred, ideal, understands it to be in their best interest.
See, someone like Council has Psychoanalysis as their extra-political/philosophical discipline, I intend to likewise outline mine. While some know I studied Philosophy at university, it may come as a surprise that I also studied Religion (seeing as I vehemently depise religion). However, I see religion as the underyling (ooh can't you just feel the irony) principle of societal discourse. The anthropological study, atleast the modern study, focuses on the relation between religious beliefs/practices and political or economic forces. I take my view of religion from, strangly enough, Cicero and on an overarching look, from the Young Hegelians. Likewise, modern religious anthropologists such as Marx, Frued, Durkheim, and Weber all subscribe to a basic principle that is actually from Feuerbach, the Young Hegelian.
The argument is called the projection idea, that religion is a projection. In 1912 Émile Durkheim, building on the work of Feuerbach, considered religion "a projection of the social values of society", "a means of making symbolic statements about society", "a symbolic language that makes statements about the social order"; in short, "religion is society worshiping itself". The thesis stems from Feuerbach's idea that religious consciousness is a seperation of Man's essential features into something external, and to a lesser extent Bauer's idea that religious consciousness was now an externalised or independent form of consciousness that was able to split from individuals or communities and become a complete concept. Obviously I deny the essential feature of Man's essence, but I still think that religion is a projection of something. This something I will outline in the next section.
The Ciceronian definition of Religio which is the latin origin of religion is "scrupulous or strict observance of the traditional cultus". In classic antiquity, it meant conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation, or duty towards anything not just the strictly divine or transcendent. A duty towards something... Hmm reminds me of authority. Religion is the basis of ideology and authority, it creates for itself (as a independent consciousness) - "thoughts grew in me until they were over my head, though they were its offspring; they hovered about me and shook me like the fever dreams, a horrifying power. The thoughts had become embodied for themselves, were ghosts, such as God, emperor, pope, fatherland, etc." - Stirner's point here is that ideas and thoughts such as a duty to follow the law, or to be moral, or even something abstract like a country, began as individual ideas, just that, thoughts but became corporeal, they had powers unto themselves.
This is Stirner's spin on the projection thesis, individual constructs and ideas are now controlling us, they exist independent of our thinking of them, they actually make us say "I can't break the law", instead of "I don't want to" - why can't you break the law, because it is the right thing to do, I must have strict observance to the traditional cultus, the rules. You don't extend your essential features into religion, but your ideas, your Ideals. See religion is an object of Idealness (Jesus as an Ideal ethical object). To Feuerbach, God became love, truth, etc. because these were the Ideal or best parts of Humanity, and needed to be set up as a object to strive for. Instead, Ideology is a particular Ideal that you strive for, the other you, something that you wish to be the best part of you - "His arms reach outward, but the Other is never reached; for would he reach it how could the ‘Other’ remain? Where would this disunion with all of its pains and pleasures be? Where would be — and we can speak it outright, for this disunion is called by another name — religion?"
Why is religion the principle discourse of society? Because society can only form through religion, society as a organisation of members around a discourse. A society of somethings, and in the case of modern society, a society of citizens, or law followers, of community members. See religion to someone like Durkheim "is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things" (1912) and these sacred things almost in a ironic Stirnerite phrase are "things set apart and forbidden" - something that can never be crossed, a "I can't". The sacred to Stirner is an external, a seperate consciousness, a thing apart, that is always above, a power, an authority that is forbidden to cross. Can one oppose the sacred?
But what is sacred to the Atheist, what is something that above all cannot be crossed? Would it be morality, human rights, the law, society itself? Is there not one person here who does not have a principle, have a sacred cause? The conscious egoist fails to have one, because for him is anything uncrossable, or is everything a relation of interest, "unless piety and your interest be in the same thing, piety cannot be maintained in any man." (Epictetus, 108). For the conscious egoist the object of interest as soon as it is no longer interesting is thrown away, the sacredness is disregarded. But to the egoist who bows down, the duped egoist, the sacred is something that you must have an interest in, it is a disinteresting pursuit. Such as marriage, is marriage not a sacred institution of (Christian) society, and yet if you were no longer interested in the marriage but duped into thinking divorce is a sin, and thus something opposing your self-betterment (because obviously Hell is not so good), would you get divorced? Or would the sacred stand between you and your interests?
Let us finish with a quote - "Sacred things exist only for the egoist who doesn’t recognize himself, the involuntary egoist, for the one who is always out for his own, and yet does not consider himself the highest essence, who only serves himself and at the same time always thinks of serving a higher being, who knows nothing higher than himself and yet is crazy about something higher; in short, for the egoist who doesn’t want to be an egoist, and degrades himself, i.e., fights his egoism, but at the same time degrades himself so that he will “be exalted,” and thus gratify his egoism. Because he wants to stop being an egoist, he looks about in heaven and earth for higher beings that he can serve and sacrifice himself to; but however much he shakes and chastises himself, in the end he does everything for his own sake, and the disreputable egoism never gives way in him. This is why I call him the involuntary egoist."
"For you don't count the dead when God's on your side" (Dylan, 1963) - How many bodies have been thrown on the dung-heap of history in order to achieve the desired goal, the Ideal, "Gods cause"? How many poor souls have been marched off to war, or fallen in bloody battle, or perhaps even used to strike at the heart of the imperial and warmongering state? Well, if our cause is just, if it is Holy, if the utopia will be reached in the end, then any means are justified. Yes, you never asked questions, always do your job and let your life be robbed away because the preacher drowns his ideas into your skull, you are a fanatic for these causes. It is not just the theists, but also the teleological doctrines, these fundamentally religious, heaven searching, ideological phantasms that demand your service, your life. If you were only to look at the atheistic Marxists or Russian Nihilists, then you would find the utopic, the Ideal, the end goal leading the charge. It would ask of you, utilise you, expect that you get enthusiastic for it, and follow along. And obviously the conquest of the Bourgeoisie is a just cause, they are evil I hear you shout, and yet your solution is to use any means necessary. You as an individual are only useful for the advent of "something greater than thou", a sacred and holy cause. Yes, progress has become the supreme being of our age, the forward march towards the "end of history".
The Egoist deals with desire sure, but the world can only ever exist as mine, as my world, as my property. The subject itself is all in all, it creates its own lack, its own negation, it steps away from itself, it always retains an ironic detachment from its own Desire, "he puts every consideration out of sight: the desire carries him away." The identity of the einzinger is not what it wants to be, for then it would only ever be an Ideal to strive after - instead the Einzinger is what it is now, which is only what it wants not to be, what it isn't. The object of desire here falls away into nothingness, I wish no longer to deal with objects, but rather myself. On politics however, Council wishes to realise their object in communism, not themself. And for this we must leave them realising, the territorialization of desire for an external and non-interesting object (thereby not an actual object of desire) is opposed to the singular event of non-causal linkage, the individual transient real action, instead the action must always be chopped up to the end Ideal, the telos.
Seemingly believes in individualism and yet reduces each individual to a holder or rights, to a thinker, to an artist, yes you can only be an individual if you are such and such, not yourself as an individual... Can anyone make sense of this? No, they cannot. However, Individualism as a system of resistence to authority, this we can make sense of, because it deals with autonomy, own action. This resistence however is limited, only when the correct authority is acheived will the individual no longer be available, when the virtuous government is founded, rebellion and resistence cease. Prefers Individuals to collectives, and yet deals in Monism, where both you and I are of one substance, only modal changes from here and there, if mind and body do not make seperate actions, than neither do we...
"But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed, you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody" - Yes our thinkers decree that we must always forget ourselves to get something back, it has to be fair they say. There has to be a reciprocity? This is society, and we do not seek it, we instead prefer union - "Have "egoists" come together where one is the slave or serf of the other?" the answer is no, instead if we wish to exist socially, we wish to do it mutually, not give and take. A right requires obligation, but I ask for no right, and I recognise no obligation.
Yes let us be anti-dogmatists in a dogmatic way. The universe does not operate through being-in-itself, instead it operates this way, that way. But do we still outline being-in-itself as a principle? Instead we have a tri-fold, a holy trinity of being-in-itself. Is not the necessity of this trinity another essence, the fundamental nature, the underlying? Yes that rhizomatic non-essence, instead of the infinite undetermined unique, negates itself, limits itself away from being-in-itself, no middle no end, a multiplicity? Are these not its essences, does it not have a concept of its own? Everything else remains out of play, and instead of dealing with reality, the real, you fall into your own spectacle, you have reduced the real to vain appearance, to find it truly (the realer real) we must utitlise a rhizomatic principle to understand our world, it is the key to understanding, the only way. You even say it yourself, you place structure on top of the non-structure, "It is a rhizome operating as a fundamentally unrhizomatic concept." - Can we accept this dogmatists call to arms? Yes even the spectacle itself has its source, its being-in-itself, you start from the beginning, structuralise the very structure you oppose. The spectacle lives through you.
Everything must be humane, for THE human, yes well I would very much love to meet this 'the human'. For I am assured rights and well-being as I am a human being, but are my rights not forfeit if I go agaisnt this humane system> Is then my humanism revoked, am I not then an inhuman human? What a contradiction, what nonsense. Once, again we have an anti-authoritarian that only wants to stop the oppressors of "people", but not the oppression of you and me, of actual individuals, because then they would realise that no system could do this, systems can only help concepts, not actual real people. Democracy is a prime example of this, if I disagreed with the outcome, if I don't consent, what happens then, will I be oppressed for the sake of "the people"?
Technocratic forms of government rely on an assumption that the appropriate knowledge can be fed into those brilliant minds at the top. Knowledge is a shared effort, it is spread out, the state of the world at least in understanding is a result of collective knowledge that comes from the bottom up, not the top down. As much as I rag on about the evils of democracy, technocracy does not fix the issue. See, I go to the doctor for their advice, but do I go to the politician or political science for their advice? No, because these are general, they have solutions that do not help me, but rather the citizens. I am not truly a citzen, I am me, and thus your "appropriate" solution does not benefit any individual.
If I didn't think your non-sens[ical] metaphysical principles were enough to point to dogmatism, we find here an egoist who finds that individuals and their own interests are in fact all the same, a general interest, an interest that you should have. "but can we find a way to determine this self-interest of ours, well, we do, lets take a look at it" - Apparently we can, it is when you do what Basedman thinks you should do, no piety without self-interest as Epictetus would argue. Because this is what we have, a religious catechism of what YOUR interests are. Yes, instead of letting each individual strive towards themself, their own interest, instead you ought to have this and that interest. Is not the individual who seeks for themself without following your doctrines their own master, their own interest is followed without being told it? Because then it would not be theirs, but another interest. However, on the metaphysics, I do not think that the thing-in-itself in the Kantian doctrine as the mind external is not there, but rather the underlying principle behind the thing in itself, the realer reality that is unknown to us, which in my case is your Idealism and Essentialism, not material reality.
I think we must all realise that people only ask me to add them to I guess review their philosophies... So I will. Matteel pulls himself in several contradictory directions at once, let us look at these paths. We have the idea that he himself as an individual is the all in all, and that nothing can "put itself" above him, and yet do we find that he as an individual has anywhere to go of his own volition? Or do we find that he never had a choice in the matter from the beginning? The "natural" world is not observably material, it is observably concrete, it may still be a product of the mind and you cannot prove otherwise. And yet, you seemingly reject the supernatural on these very grounds that they are not provable or observable, nor do you accept the possibility of free-will, and yet I see no "proof" of deterministic material factors such as cause and effect - Can you actually observe the cause and then the effect, you experience A and then B, not A causing B. Lastly, how can any determinist demand a "should", I should do such and such, but I was already pre-determined to either do or not to do such and such, I cannot alter my actions based on your already pre-determined thinking. Oh I should, so as an individual your moral dictates are "above me", how very contradictory.
Reaction steps into this world at the same time as revolution, there cannot be one without the other. We find that reaction is the full conclusion to the revolution, it's final break in which the revolution is cast down as an other, and if it cannot be assimilated into the pire of history, then it must be cast out. Only upon self-reflection do we find that the revolutionaries are those reactionaries who have their own "unrestrainedness" in their actions. See, "The revolution [The French one] was not directed against the existent, but against this existent, against a particular existence. It did away with this ruler, not the ruler; on the contrary, the French were most relentlessly ruled; it killed the old vicious rulers, but wanted to grant the new virtuous rulers a secure existence, i.e., it merely replaced vice with virtue."(Stirner, 1844). And yet the philosophers of our age can only stumble back into the old, the reaction, the past as if the present was not so different. The reactionary is not against the modern, but against this modern, it wishes to do away with this culture, not the culture. One either longs for the future or the past, the Ideal and utopic either way - will you belong to the revolutionaries or the revolutionary reactionaries?
I will not judge your philosophy, because a) you are not adept in it and it would be a bit of a unfair analysis, and b) there isn't much written so even if I wanted to I could not. We could perhaps reply to each section and get a running commentary going; On Adjectives, I agree. On Federation, only the existent can exist, and yet have we seen any regime exist past its due? On Autonomy, it is not necessary but already existent, the government does not come and wipe my ass so it assumes my autonomy already. Secondly, "collective" wellbeing is always different to individual wellbeing because the collective cannot be pulled in all directions at once. On Individualist Socialism, which like any other system can never be individualist, if you want to be able to utilise yourself you must extend beyond socialism just as the socialist extends beyond the system of utilisation via the bourgeoisie. On Human Nature, if we wanted to reduce people to determined endpoints then we could discuss the role of nurture. However, if we wanted to discuss the nature of humans we would reach a dead-end, a contradiction.
Kira Kween (//)
One would be hard pressed to not feel like a "human" within a communist system. See, too the Marxist as a cog I am alienated from my fundamental product, from my species-essence, from my "potential", and yet does the Marxist solution solve this problem? Is my product a general human product, a general human labour that can be paid back in full and rightfully earned? Or are my activities unique, can anyone else come in and take my place, or would their activities be different to mine? I could easily perform actions as a human, just as I could perform labours as a worker, as a cog in the capitalist system. "But all the same, work is our sole value: the best thing about us is that we are workers, that is our meaning in the world; and this is why it must also become our advantage and show itself to advantage." (Stirner, 1844). Under the capitalist I get value from my labour, I exist and make a living as a worker, and what is the communist solution, oh to be through and through a worker, you are given a value on your usefulness to the community, to the "owner" above. I can never escape the endless labour.
Mhm, you know... If I found other ideologies idealistic. I am no opponent of psychopaths or even pyschopathic behaviour, I am against identifying oneself as a concept however, which 'pyschopath' is. It is no different to reducing oneself to any other singular and limiting conception. It should also be noted that formulating a society of anti-social people is a bit of a contradiction, let alone the fact that these people likely do not care for your "reforms" of their life even if it benefitted them. Also I highly doubt that a society that openly supplied pyschopaths with nuclear arms would be able to exist. Also Also, what is the point of focusing on psychopaths if one is going to control the population anyway to force everyone to be psychopaths? Now I know you wish to normalise yourself, you feel like an outsider and an extremophile that needs to reformulate society so that your sexual preference(and whatever else) becomes acceptable, but there is no need to be normal. You are already perfect!
I can't in good nature generalise every communalist, especially one that hasn't shown any hostility, nor read Bookchin's work on "Individualist" Anarchism. However, I can in good nature utilise this user to critique Bookchin's views on said individualism. Bookchin coined the negative label "lifestylism" to describe those anarchist who were not for the revolution, the collective duty towards the endgoal, the unique fellows with private interests. And that is exactly the problem, because what is the opposite of a lifestyle? A detachment, a seperation of oneself. See, if it wasn't my lifestyle to be an anarchist, what would my anarchism then be, a duty, a non-interesting pursuit? Well that sure sounds swell, something that I head towards that I don't actually want as part of my life, sounds fantastic, where do I sign up? If anyone was ever going to be an anarchist, let alone an anything, it would because it was a part of their life, something that was in fact a style of living, a life-style. Now, I doubt our communalist friend would find any difficulty accepting this principle, and I do not argue that they follow Bookchin's principles, but without a section of beliefs I can do nothing but assume.
Now, I have several issues, but we shall be sufficed with just a couple. First, on the concept of "private" property - Nesanel argues that it is both necessary and natural, if it were natural for human beings, it would not need to be supplied, and if it is necessary than it needs to be supplied. If the supply is external, then it is not private but instead guaranteed by the state and thus it is not individual. Secondly, you claim racism is a stupid idea because people are born different, and yet attack the LGBTQIA+ community even though they are born different - just plain contradictory. Lastly, the government should be there to support "the people" - not any individuals but the overall concept of "the people" who have widely opposing views.
Hundred Schools of Thought
- I Ching by Fu Xi, King Wen of Zhou, and the Duke of Zhou (800 BCE)
- Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (600 BCE)
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu (496 BCE)
- Liezi: World of Delusion by Lie Yukou (375 BCE)
- The Book of Chuang Tzu by Zhuang Zhou (301 BCE)
- The Huainanzi by Liu An, Prince of Huainan (139 BCE)
- Taoist Classics Volumes One by Thomas Cleary (1999)
- Taoist Classics Volumes Two by Thomas Cleary (1999)
- Taoist Classics Volumes Three by Thomas Cleary (1999)
- Taoist Classics Volumes Four by Thomas Cleary (1999)
- Neither Lord nor Subject by Bao Jingyan (300)
- Taoism: An Essential Guide by Eva Wong (2011)
- Shang Shu by Confucius (479 BCE)
- The Analects by Confucius (475 BCE)
- The Highest Order of Cultivation and On the Practice of the Mean by Ta Hsueh and Chung Yung (402 BCE)
- Mencius by Mencius (289 BCE)
- Master Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals by Lü Buwei (239 BCE)
- Xunzi by Xun Kuang (238 BCE)
- Guanzi by Guan Zhong (645 BCE)
- The Book of Lord Shang by Shang Yang (338 BCE)
- Basic Writings by Han Fei (233 BCE)
- The World of Thought in Ancient China by Benjamin I. Schwartz (1985)
- Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China by A. C. Graham (1989)
- A Companion to World Philosophies by Eliot Deutsch and Ron Bontekoe (1997)
- Mencius and Early Chinese Thought by Kwong-loi Shun (1997)
- Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy by Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden (2001)
- An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy: From Ancient Philosophy to Chinese Buddhism by JeeLoo Liu (2005)
- Early China: A Social and Cultural History by Li Feng (2013)
- Ways of Heaven: An Introduction to Chinese Thought by Roel Sterckx (2019)
- The Iliad by Homer (8th Century BCE)
- The Odyssey by Homer (8th Century BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Homer by Robert Fowler (2004)
- Theogony, Works and Days by Hesiod (725 BCE)
- The Homeric Hymns (522 BCE)
- Elegies by Theognis (485 BCE)
- Greek Lyric: An Anthology in Translation (438 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Greek Lyric by Felix Budelmann (2009)
- The Greek Myths: The Complete and Definitive Edition by Robert Graves (1955)
- The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology by Roger Woodard (2007)
- The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion by Esther Eidinow and Julia Kindt (2015)
- Early Greek Philosophy by Jonathan Barnes (1978)
- Fragments by Heraclitus (475 BCE)
- Heraclitus: The Inception of Occidental Thinking by Martin Heidegger (1943)
- Logic: Heraclitus’s Doctrine of the Logos by Martin Heidegger (1944)
- The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy by A. A. Long (1999)
- The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy by Daniel W. Graham and Patricia Curd (2008)
The New Learning
- The Greek Sophists by John Dillon (2003)
- The Persians by Aeschylus (472 BCE)
- Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus (467 BCE)
- Suppliants by Aeschylus (463 BCE)
- Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus (? BCE)
- The Three Theban Plays: Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone by Sophocles (405 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles by Loren Samons II (2010)
Classical Greek Philosophy
- A Companion to Socrates by Sara Ahbel-Rappe and Rachana Kamtekar (2006)
- The Cambridge Companion to Socrates by Donald Morrison (2010)
- Antisthenes of Athens: Texts, Translations, and Commentary by Susan Prince (2015)
- A New Perspective on Antisthenes: Logos, Predicate and Ethics in His Philosophy by Piet Meijer (2017)
- The Cynic Philosophers: from Diogenes to Julian by Robert Dobbin (2012)
- Conversations of Socrates by Xenophon (354 BCE)
- Complete Works by Plato (347 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Plato by Richard Kraut (2012)
- Complete Works of Aristotle, Volume 1 by Aristotle (327 BCE)
- Complete Works of Aristotle, Volume 2 by Aristotle (327 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle by Jonathan Barnes (1995)
- The Art Of Happiness by Epicurus (270 BCE)
- On the Nature of Things by Lucretius (55 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism by James Warren (2009)
- Letters from a Stoic by Seneca the Younger (65)
- Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus (108)
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (180)
- The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics by Brad Inwood (2003)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Scepticism by Richard Bett (2010)
- The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1513)
- Leviathan: The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civill by Thomas Hobbes (1651)
- The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762)
- The History of Political Establishments by Adam Ferguson (1767)
- Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View by Immanuel Kant (1784)
- An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice by William Godwin (1793)
- Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgment by Immanuel Kant (1793)
- Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind by Marquis de Condorcet (1795)
- The Liberty of Ancients Compared with that of Moderns by Benjamin Constant (1819)
- Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Volume I: Manuscripts of the Introduction and the Lectures of 1822-1823 by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1822-1823)
- Holy History of Mankind by Moses Hess (1837)
- Prolegomena to a Historiosophy by August Cieszkowski (1838)
- The Trumpet of the Last Judgment Against Hegel the Atheist and Antichrist by Bruno Bauer (1841)
- The Philosophy and Politics of Bruno Bauer by Douglas Moggach (2003)
- The Political Revolution by Edgar Bauer (1842)
- About B. Bauer's “Trumpet of the Last Judgment" by Max Stirner (1842)
- Art and Religion by Max Stirner (1842)
- The Unique and Its Property by Max Stirner (1844)
- The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848)
- Revolutionary Catechism by Mikhail Bakunin (1866)
- What Is To Be Done? by Vladimir Lenin (1902)
- The Whig Interpretation of History by Herbert Butterfield (1931)
- Their Morals and Ours by Leon Trotsky (1938)
- Theses on the Philosophy of History by Walter Benjamin (1940)
- German Nihilism by Leo Strauss (1941)
- Letter to Jean Lacroix by Louis Althusser (1949)
- A Short History of Decay by Emil Cioran (1949)
- The Golden Age by Emil Cioran (1960)
- The Crisis of Our Time by Leo Strauss (1964)
- Right of Death and Power over Life by Michel Foucault (1976)
- On the Postmodern Condition by Jean-François Lyotard (1979)
- An Idea for a Universal History by Francis Fukuyama (1992)
- Specters of Marx by Jacques Derrida (1993)
- A Quick and Dirty Intro to Accelerationism by Nick Land (2017)
- The World as Will and Representation: Volume I Book IV by Arthur Schopenhauer (1818)
- Two Ages: A Literary Review by Søren Kierkegaard (1846)
- The Revolutionary Catechism by Sergey Nechayev (1869)
- What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean? by Friedrich Nietzsche (1887)
- Tragic Thought by Gilles Deleuze (1962)
The New Learning
- Ajax by Sophocles (445 BCE)
- Alcestis by Euripides (438 BCE)
- Medea by Euripides (431 BCE)
- Heracleidae by Euripides (430 BCE)
- Hippolytus by Euripides (428 BCE)
- Hecuba by Euripides (423 BCE)
- Heracles by Euripides (416 BCE)
- The Trojan Women by Euripides (415 BCE)
- Suppliants by Euripides (414 BCE)
- Electra by Euripides (413 BCE)
- Ion by Euripides (412 BCE)
- Iphigenia in Tauris by Euripides (412 BCE)
- Helen by Euripides (412 BCE)
- Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides (410 BCE)
- Philoctetes by Sophocles (409 BCE)
- The Phoenician Women by Euripides (408 BCE)
- Orestes by Euripides (408 BCE)
- The Bacchae by Euripides (406 BCE)
- Women of Trachis by Sophocles (? BCE)
- Electra by Sophocles (? BCE)
- Andromache by Euripides (? BCE)
- Cyclops by Euripides (? BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy by P. E. Easterling (1997)
- The Acharnians by Aristophanes (425 BCE)
- The Knights by Aristophanes (424 BCE)
- The Clouds by Aristophanes (423 BCE)
- The Wasps by Aristophanes (422 BCE)
- Peace by Aristophanes (421 BCE)
- The Birds by Aristophanes (414 BCE)
- Lysistrata by Aristophanes (411 BCE)
- Thesmophoriazusae or The Women Celebrating the Thesmophoria by Aristophanes (411 BCE)
- The Frogs by Aristophanes (405 BCE)
- Ecclesiazusae or The Assemblywomen by Aristophanes (392 BCE)
- Wealth by Aristophanes (388 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy by Martin Revermann (2014)
- Histories by Herodotus (430 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Herodotus by Carolyn Dewald (2006)
- History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (404 BCE)
- The Oxford Handbook of Thucydides by Ryan K. Balot, Sara Forsdyke, and Edith Foster (2020)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Athens by Jenifer Neils and Dylan K. Rogers (2021)
Classical Greek Philosophy
- The Birth of Hedonism: The Cyrenaic Philosophers and Pleasure as a Way of Life by Kurt Lampe (2014)
- The Persian Expedition by Xenophon (370 BC)
- A History of My Times by Xenophon (362 BC)
- Hiero The Tyrant by Xenophon (354 BC)
- The Cambridge Companion to Xenophon by Michael A. Flower (2016)
- The Cambridge Companion to Plato Second Edition by David Ebrey and Richard Kraut (2022)
- The Oxford Handbook of Plato by Gail Fine (2008)
- The Cambridge Companion to Plato's Republic by G.R. F. Ferrari (2007)
- The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy by John Dillon (2003)
- Cynics by William Desmond (2008)
- The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle by Christopher Shields (2012)
- The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Politics by Marguerite Deslauriers (2013)
- The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics by Ronald Polansky (2014)
- The Peripatetics: Aristotle's Heirs 322 BCE - 200 CE by H. Baltussen (2016)
- The Cambridge Companion To Lucretius by Stuart Gillespie (2007)
- Oxford Handbook of Epicurus and Epicureanism by Phillip Mitsis (2020)
- The Pot of Gold and Other Plays by Plautus (184 BCE)
- The Rope and Other Plays by Plautus (184 BCE)
- The Comedies by Terence (159 BCE)
- The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy by Michael Fontaine and Adele C. Scafuro (2013)
- The Cambridge Companion to Roman Comedy by Martin T. Dinter (2019)
- The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theatre by Marianne McDonald (2007)
- The Poems by Catullus (54 BCE)
- On Government by Cicero (51 BCE)
- In Defence of the Republic by Cicero (51 BCE)
- Selected Political Speeches by Cicero (45 BCE)
- The Nature of the Gods by Cicero (45 BCE)
- On Living and Dying Well by Cicero (44 BCE)
- Selected Letters by Cicero (43 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Cicero by Catherine Steel (2013)
- The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy by Jed W. Atkins and Thomas Bénatouïl (2021)
- The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic by Harriet I. Flower (2014)
- The Eclogues by Virgil (38 BCE)
- The Georgics by Virgil (29 BCE)
- The Aeneid by Virgil (19 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Virgil by Charles Martindale (1997)
- The Complete Odes and Epodes by Horace (8 BCE)
- The Satires and Epistles by Horace (8 BCE)
- The Cambridge Companion to Horace by Stephen Harrison (2007)
- Heroides by Ovid (8)
- The Erotic Poems by Ovid (8)
- The Metamorphoses by Ovid (8)
- Fasti by Ovid (8)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ovid by Philip Hardie (2002)
- The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus by Karl Galinsky (2005)
- The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Nero by Shadi Bartsch, Kirk Freudenburg, and Cedric Littlewood (2017)
- Four Tragedies And Octavia by Seneca (54)
- Dialogues and Letters by Seneca (65)
- The Cambridge Companion to Seneca by Shadi Bartsch (2015)
- Natural History: A Selection by Pliny the Elder (79)
- The Letters by Pliny the Younger (113)
- Moralia: Volume I by Plutarch (119)
- Moralia: Volume II by Plutarch (119)
- Moralia: Volume III by Plutarch (119)
- Moralia: Volume IV by Plutarch (119)
- Moralia: Volume V by Plutarch (119)
- Moralia: Volume VI by Plutarch (119)
- Moralia: Volume VII by Plutarch (119)
- Moralia: Volume VIII by Plutarch (119)
- On Sparta by Plutarch (119)
- The Age of Alexander by Plutarch (119)
- The Rise of Rome by Plutarch (119)
- The Makers of Rome by Plutarch (119)
- Rome In Crisis by Plutarch (119)
- The Fall of the Roman Republic by Plutarch (119)
- The Cambridge Companion to Plutarch by Frances B. Titchener and Alexei V. Zadorojnyi (2022)
- The Philosophy of Antiochus by David Sedley (2012)
- The Manual of Harmonics by Nicomachus of Gerasa (120)
- The Handbook of Platonism by Alcinous (150)
- The Philosophical Orations by Maximus of Tyre (200)
- The Middle Platonists: 80 B.C. to A.D. 220 by John M. Dillon (1977)
- The Sixteen Satires by Juvenal (138)
- The Cambridge Companion to Roman Satire by Kirk Freudenburg (2005)
- The Satyricon by Petronius (66)
- Daphnis and Chloe by Longus (150)
- The Golden Ass by Apuleius (170)
- The Cambridge Companion to the Greek and Roman Novel by Tim Whitmarsh (2008)
- Pyrrho, His Antecedents, and His Legacy by Richard Bett (2000)
- Philo of Larissa: The Last of the Academic Sceptics by Charles Brittain (2001)
- On Academic Scepticism by Cicero (45 BCE)
- Outlines of Scepticism by Sextus Empiricus (200)
- Against Those in the Disciplines by Sextus Empiricus (200)
- Against the Logicians by Sextus Empiricus (200)
- Against the Physicists by Sextus Empiricus (200)
- Against the Ethicists by Sextus Empiricus (200)
- Sextus Empiricus and Pyrrhonean Scepticism by Alan Bailey (2002)
- The Second Sophistic: A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire by Graham Anderson (1993)
- The Oxford Handbook of the Second Sophistic by William A. Johnson and Daniel S. Richter (2017)
- Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Volume I: Books 1-5 by Diogenes Laertius (240)
- Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Volume II: Books 6-10 by Diogenes Laertius (240)
- The Hellenistic Philosophers: Volume 1, Translations of the Principal Sources with Philosophical Commentary by A. A. Long and David Sedley (1987)
- The Hellenistic Philosophers: Volume 2, Greek and Latin Texts with Notes and Bibliography by A. A. Long and David Sedley (1987)
- The Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World by John Boardman, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray (1986)
- The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies by George Boys-Stones, Barbara Graziosi, and Phiroze Vasunia (2009)
- The Cambridge Companion to the Hellenistic World by Glenn R. Bugh (2006)
- The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy by Keimpe Algra, Jonathan Barnes, Jaap Mansfeld, and Malcolm Schofield (1999)
- The Routledge Handbook of Hellenistic Philosophy by Kelly Arenson (2022)
- The Cambridge Greek Lexicon by James Diggle (2021)
Greek & Roman Philosophy
- The Oxford History of the Roman World by John Boardman, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray (1986)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rome by Paul Erdkamp (2013)
- The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies by Alessandro Barchiesi and Walter Scheidel (2010)
- The Oxford Handbook of Roman Epigraphy by Christer Bruun and Jonathan Edmondson (2017)
- The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Mythography by R. Scott Smith and Stephen M. Trzaskoma (2022) 66.09
- Classical Art: From Greece to Rome by Mary Beard and John Henderson (2001)
- The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Art and Architecture by Clemente Marconi (2014)
- The Oxford Handbook of Roman Sculpture by Elise A. Friedland, Melanie Grunow Sobocinski, and Elaine K. Gazda (2015)
- The Oxford Handbook of Roman Imagery and Iconography by Lea K. Cline and Nathan T. Elkins (2021)
- The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Philosophy by David Sedley (2003)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Political Thought by Stephen Salkever (2009)
- The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought by Christopher Rowe (2000)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Ethics by Christopher Bobonich (2017)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rhetoric by Erik Gunderson (2006)
- The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life by Gordan L. Campbell (2014)
- The Oxford Handbook of Science and Medicine in the Classical World by Paul T. Keyser and John Scarborough (2018)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek and Roman Science by Liba Taub (2020)
- The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Logic by Luca Castagnoli and Paolo Fait (2022)
- The Oxford Handbook of Social Relations in the Roman World by Michael Peachin (2011)
- Borkowski's Textbook on Roman Law by Paul J. du Plessis (2020)
- The Cambridge Companion to Roman Law by David Johnston (2015)
- The Oxford Handbook of Roman Law and Society by Paul J. du Plessis, Clifford Ando, and Kaius Tuori (2020)
- LordCompost86 - Comment if you want to be added. Also I will be clearing away old comments.