Omar Khayyam and Max Stirner

Translated by Ulrike Hirschhäuser

I Determined To Rely On Nothing !

2) The Inexpressible  


In the following section we shall analyze the indeterminable world in which Stirner and Omar will meet once more. In doing so, we shall start out from a non-religious, “godless” mysticism.

According to my own knowledge Stirner was rarely associated with mysticism, while his role as a “social critic”, his “anarchism”, his “Gesellite” views have always been frequently discussed topics. In an industrialized  world in which man´s mind is dominated by the mechanistic principles of efficiency his anti-pedagogic and psychoanalytic ideas were disdained.[1] There may be some special reasons for this which we cannot discuss here.

After Stirner has denounced the whole world of explanations, of ideas, of philosophies, in short of ideologies as ghosts, as psychical disorders in men, he, to my mind, arrives at a problematic, i.e. empirically speaking very complex conclusion, “It is myself who is the criterion of truth, I, however, am no idea, but more than an idea, i.e. inexpressible.” [2] The living meaning the concrete Ego, body and soul, is, as we have pointed out above, the Ego with a self-centred motivation, with a will of its own, which because of his potential capacities can take possession of what it is capable of to satisfy its hunger with relish. But the indefinable Ego is something different, a phenomenon which cannot be grasped empirically, the all in all, the Ego´s creator; it is its creator and its creation in one. This Ego is identical with God: He is nameless, there is no word to denote everything that his divinity entails. This also applies to Stirner: no concept denotes his entire nature, nothing that he is characterized by is exhaustive enough to sum up his nature. Therefore Stirner consistently states, “I rely on nothing.”[3]

From this point on Stirner cannot be communicated to anybody anymore. After Stirner has completed his thought, he falls silent. Thus he becomes a mystic: an active individual turns into an inactive individual, the Ego, full of desire, turns into the Ego that dissolves – this is the world of “I am the inexpressible.”

Behind the physical I, which perceives itself and which turns itself into an object, the Ego´s sense of vitality is hiding. Therefore there may be something concealed behind all objects.This, however, is indefinable.

Fritz Mauthner writes about the dilemma of language, “I belong to the world of appearances; apart from that I am – though I am the only one who knows that – a thing in itself, a thing for me. Come on, out with it! What am I as a thing in itself, as a thing for me? Me, me, me! I am me. Language cannot go beyond this silly tautology, this babble.”[4] We have every right to wonder: Does Stirner manage to go beyond this “babble”? He at least realizes his linguistic limits and says that he relies on Nothing, thus facing the imperfection of language. Linguistically speaking that is the only logical consequence. So we are not amazed at the fact that Stirner called language a ghost, too. Mauthner saw that Stirner was a critic of language and wrote,“In a certain though limited way Stirner was the most relentless critic of language... But all misunderstandings concerning Stirner, who crushed the whole world, result from the fact that no language whatsoever can express whether the Unique Ego denotes a solipsist or man after all. This is not Stirner´s fault, but is due to language.”[5] Let us unveil the secret. Referring to the Ego as “nothing” , Stirner touches upon a conceptual limit and leaves all ghosts behind.


[1] Cf. Max Stirner und die Psychoanalyse (Max Stirner and Psychoanalysis) In: Der Einzige. (The Unique Ego) Vierteljahresschrift des Max-Stirner-Archivs Leipzig, Heft 1 u.2 Februar 2001 (Quarterly of the Max-Stirner-Archives Leipzig , issue 1 & 2, February 2001)

[2] Max Stirner Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (The Ego and Its Own) Sturrgart 1981, p. 400

[3] p. 412

[4] Fritz Mauthner Wörterbuch der Philosophie (Dictionary of Philosophy) 2.Band (Volume II) Publishers: Diogenes, 1980, p. 373

[5] Fritz Mauthner Der Atheismus und seine Geschichte im Abendland (Atheism and Its History in The Western World) 4. Band (Volume IV), Hildesheim 1963, pp. 216 - 217


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