The Owl of Minerva

Volume 37, Issue 2, Spring/Summer 2006

Todd Gooch
Pages 159-190

Max Stirner and the Apotheosis of the Corporeal Ego

This paper clarifies Stirner’s relationship to his Left Hegelian contemporaries, Ludwig Feuerbch and Bruno Bauer, by showing how, in The Ego and Its Own, Stirner sought to exploit a fundamental contradiction that he perceived in the humanisitc atheism of Feuerbach and Bauer, and thereby to complete the critique of religious consciousness initiated by them. After having reconstructed Stirner’s position in relation to those of his contemporaries, the paper goes on to identify a significant weakness in it, and to identify resources in Feuerbach’s program for a future philosophy that might be enlisted in response to Stirner. The author argues that the central claim underlying Stirner’s criticism of Feuerbach involves a misconception of Feuerbach’s notion of the Gattungswesen or species-essence. Furthermore, Stirner’s unmitigated epistemological relativism is ultimately incompatible with his materialist ontology.