Max Stirner

On this date in 1806, Johann Kaspar Schmidt (known by his pseudonym Max Stirner), was born in Bayreuth, Bavaria. He entered the University of Berlin in 1826, the University of Erlangen in 1828 and then the University of Königsberg in Prussia, where he completed an undergraduate degree. He worked as a teacher of history and literature from 1839-44. Stirner quit his job after writing his philosophical book The Ego and Its Own (1844). He was an anarchist, nihilist and egoist and his views were reflected in The Ego and Its Own. Stirner married Agnes Butz, who died in childbirth in 1838. He later married Marie Dähnhardt.

Born to a Lutheran family, Stirner became critical of religion. In The Ego and Its Own, he wrote, “We are perfect altogether, and on the whole earth there is not one man who is a sinner! There are crazy people who imagine that they are God the Father, God the Son, or the man in the moon, and so too the world swarms with fools who seem to themselves to be sinners; but, as the former are not the man in the moon, so the latter are not sinners. Their sin is imaginary.”

In June 1842 he published an article titled “Art and Religion” in the Rheinische Zeitung, in which he strongly critiqued the religious: “The religious spirit is not inspired. Inspired piety is as great an inanity as inspired linen-weaving. Religion is always accessible to the impotent, and every uncreative dolt can and will always have religion, for uncreativeness does not impede his life of dependency.” He died in 1856 of an infected insect bite. No photos of him are known to exist. (The accompanying drawing of him, c. 1892, is by the philosopher Friedrich Engels.)

Freedom From Religion Foundation