Omar Khayyam and Max Stirner

Translated by Ulrike Hirschhäuser

I Determined To Rely On Nothing !

2)  The Inexpressible  


On analyzing the words “And I will be godlike.”, we can render them in the following way: Everybody is his own creator. God exists because he does not exist above or outside the world, but in the world and therefore he lives in each human being. God and I are identical beings. The unique Ego is a god beside other gods. However difficult the interpretation of Stirner´s Ego and Omar´s criticism of reason and any search for God may be, both philosophers´sceptical attitude towards the human mind and intellect, towards authority and whatever type of control of the individual does not only become manifest in their social criticism but also in their mystic experiences. Stirner does not only criticize the  the forces controlling the individual because of the antiliberal attitude implied in them and because they are antagonistic towards the Ego. No, this is only the surface level of his philosophy. Stirner considers each word to be a ghost, since each word presents an obstacle to the creation of his ego. “The power of language over morals, over the commonest human habits has never been analyzed as furiously as by Stirner´s fiery speech in “The Ego and Its Own”. To Stirner all abstractions, truths, ideals, in fact all grand words are odious ghosts. He cannot help it, he is forced to hate ... language, too. Those terrifying words, by which Stirner aimed at something on a lower level primarily applies to language: ‘Digest the host and you´ll get it out of your system’. ‘Digest language and you will be free from it; digest all logical thinking, digest your own word.’[1] Mauthner´s words evidently express great admiration for Stirner, though he criticizes Stirner´s “dogmatic view of the Ego”: “The objection that the Ego is an illusion would have severely damaged his edifice.”[2] He even reproaches Stirner saying that Stirner does not understand his own conclusion. “He did not understand his own conclusion while laughing that coldly.”[3]To summarize Mauthner´s views: On the one hand Mauthner accuses Stirner of not recognizing the ego as an illusion/ an illusionary one, although Stirner views everything else in that way, on the other hand he accuses him of not being aware of his mysticism. Before I try to prove Mauthner wrong, I would like to mention that Mauthner´s assertions are due to the fact that at Mauthner´s time Stirner was mainly regarded as an anarchist. On the other hand Stirner´s emphasizing and conceiving the ego is misleading, therefore Mauthner´s criticism and scepticism is intelligible.

The mortality and what is more the transciency of Stirner´s Ego is the very sign of creating nothing. This Ego, this experiencing nothingness are neither part of this world nor of a spiritual world, just because it has given up the idea of its existence. The Ego does not mean anything, it is only an expression of an experience of infinite attributes. It is alive and experiences life. If man is obsessed with an idea, i.e. a fixed idea that is sickening, this will be caused by the domination of one thought. All ideas that take control of man are products of a mental disturbance. So what about the idea of the Ego? “The most modern ruler of this kind is our nature.”[4] Stirner´s Ego is neither an object nor an idea, but inexpressible. Thus Stirner has got rid of his ghosts. He relies on nothing, i.e. he is egoless. Stirner´s identification of God and the Ego coincides with the elimination of the distinction between the Ego and the world. That is the experience of the nameless, the unique ego, the mystic. The Ego, God, has ceased to be an object. No ideas and laws, no rules and commandments are valid anymore. For: “All commandments impose laws at the same time, and each law implies the interdiction to overstep limits.”[5] So overstepping limits means all laws become worthless. Omar summarizes it in the following way:

The raindrop cries, “The sea! So far away!”      

The ocean laughs, “Your grief! So very futile!”

In fact we´re all identical, identical with God –

It is only a tiny dot that separates us:- Time - [6]


[1] F. Mauthner Die Sprache (Language) 1905, p. 83

[2] Mauthner p. 84

[3] Mauthner p. 84

[4] Stirner p. 400

[5] L. Klages p. 609

[6] F. Rosen p. 30


Back to Main Page