In this landmark text of individualist philosophy, Max Stirner advances amoral egoism and criticizes traditional forces of authority, be it state nationalism, religion, traditional morality, or rival philosophies such as humanism.
The first part of his book, Stirner criticizes the vast array of human history, establishing the patterns through which authority manipulates the conscience. Feelings of strong patriotism or nationalism, religious beliefs, and various ideologies claim individuals and deprive them of their powers of self-discovery; as a part of at least one of these creeds, aspects of a person's identity are undermined by the monoculture of old ideals.
Max Stirner identifies how, during adolescence and early adulthood, many people embark in their own original path of discovery. Yet even philosophical movements such as that advanced by Hegel or Kant act to undermine this process, admitting otherwise free thinking persons into their rigid tenets - compared against political or spiritual forces, these were merely new masters.
The second part of Stirner's thesis floats a solution: a sense of 'ownness'; autonomy from established orders, is proposed. This sort of egoism is not to be confused with a single-minded goal; pursuit of say wealth or fame is, in Stirner's view, just as enslaving as subscribing to an established ideal. Fulfilling the various self-interests of the soul, and being independent from any kind of state control, are what the author envisages as the perfect form of egoism.
Stark in its arguments and immediately controversial upon release, Max Stirner's furious thesis against such an established order remains influential and widely read. Individuals interested in anarchism, postmodernism, and nihilism refer to The Ego and His Own to this day.