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Chapter 3: Ownness

[Eigenheit (Ownness) can also be translated as property, peculiarity or individuality, with the implication of something that distinguishes a particular individual. In one of the Italian translations of the book, the word is translated as l'originalità, i.e., originality. – translator.]

Doesn't the mind [Geist] thirst for freedom?” – Oh, not just my mind, but my body also thirsts for it hour after hour! When my nose, before the fragrant castle kitchen, tells my palate of the tasty dishes that are being prepared there, it feels a terrible yearning with its dry bread; when my eyes tell my calloused back about the soft down upon which it might lie more delightfully than on its crushed straw, a grim fury seizes it; when – but let's not follow the pains any further. – And you call that a longing for freedom? Then what do you want to get free from? From your hardtack and straw bed? Then throw them away! – But that doesn't seem to serve your purpose: instead you want to have the freedom to enjoy delicious food and downy beds. Are people supposed to give you this “freedom” – are they supposed to permit it to you? You don't hope for that from their charity, because you know that they all think like – you: each is nearest to himself! So how do you plan to achieve the enjoyment of such food and beds? Most likely no other way than by making them your property!

If you reflect on it correctly, you don't want the freedom to have all these fine things, for with this freedom you do not have them; you actually want to have these things, to call them yours and possess them as your property. What use is a freedom to you, if it contributes nothing? And if you became free from everything, you would no longer have anything; because freedom is lacking in content. For one who doesn't know how to use it, this useless permission has no value; but how I make use of it depends on my ownness.

I have no objection to freedom, but I want more than freedom for you: you should not just be rid of what you don't want, you should also have what you want; you should not just be a “freeman,” you should also be an “owner.”

Free – from what? Oh, what is there that cannot be shaken off? The yoke of bondage, of feudal sovereignty, of aristocracy and prince, the rule of the desires and passions; yes, even the rule of one's own will, of self-will, for the most thorough self-denial is nothing but freedom – freedom, namely, from self-determination, from one's own self; and the urge for freedom as something absolute, worth any price, destroyed our ownness: it created self-denial. But the freer I become, the more constraint piles up before my eyes; the more powerless I feel. The unfree son of the wilderness feels nothing yet of all the limits that press on the educated human being; he seems freer to himself that the latter. To the extent that I gain freedom for myself, I create new limits and tasks for myself; if I've invented railroads, I feel weak again because I still cannot sail through the air like a bird; and if I have solved a problem whose obscurity disturbed my mind, I then quickly expect countless others whose mysteriousness hinders my progress, dims my free view, and makes the limits of my freedom too painfully obvious to me. “Now that you have become free from sins, you have become servants of righteousness.”1 Don't republicans, in their broad freedom, become servants of the law? How true Christian hearts longed at all times “to become free,” how they pined to see themselves released from the “bonds of earthly life”! They looked out toward the land of freedom. (“The Jerusalem that is above is the freewoman; she is the mother of us all.”2

Being free from something – means only being unattached to or rid of it. “He is free from a headache” is the same as “he is rid of it.” “He is free of this prejudice” is the same as “he has never held it” or “ he has rid himself of it.” In “less”3 we complete the freedom Christianity recommends, in sinless, godless, morality-less, etc.

Freedom is the doctrine of Christianity. “Ye, dear brethren, are called to freedom.”4 “So speak and so do, as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom.”5

So must we give up freedom because it betrays itself as a Christian ideal? No, nothing is to be lost, not freedom either; but it has to become our own, and it can't do this in the form of freedom.

What a difference between freedom and ownness! One can get rid of a lot, but one doesn't get rid of everything; one becomes free from much, but not from all. One may be free inwardly despite a condition of slavery, though, once again, it is only from a whole lot of things, not from everything; but as a slave one does not get free from the whip, the imperious temper, etc., of the master. “Freedom lives only in the realm of dreams!” On the other hand, ownness is my whole essence6 and existence, it is myself. I am free from what I am rid of, owner of what I have in my power, what I control. I am at all times and under every circumstance my own, if I know how to have myself and do not waste myself on others. Being free is something that I cannot truly will, because I cannot make it, I cannot create it: I can only wish for it and – strive for it, because it remains an ideal, a spook. The fetters of reality cut the sharpest welts in my flesh at every moment. But I remain my own. Given over in bondage to a master, I think only of myself and my advantage; his blows indeed strike me, I am not free from them; but I endure them only for my benefit, perhaps to deceive him and make him feel safe with my sham of patience or, again, to avoid rousing anger against myself through my insubordination. But because I keep an eye out for myself and my self-interest, I grab the first good opportunity by the forelock to crush the slave-owner. That I then become free from him and his whip is only the result of my earlier egoism. Here someone might say that I was “free” even in the condition of slavery – that is, “in myself” or “inwardly.” But “free in oneself” is not “actually free,” and “inwardly” is not “outwardly.” On the other hand, I was own, my own, completely, inwardly and outwardly. Under the rule of a cruel master my body is not “free” from torments and lashes; but it is my bones that groan under the torture, my fibers that twitch under the blows, and I groan because my body groans. That I sigh and shiver proves that I have not yet lost myself, that I am still my own. My leg is not “free” from the master's stick, but it is my leg and is inseparable. Let him tear it off me and see if he still has my leg! He holds nothing in his hand but – the corpse of my leg, which is as little my leg as a dead dog is still a dog. A dog has a beating heart, a so-called dead dog has none and so is no longer a dog.

If one expresses the opinion that a slave may still be inwardly free, he in fact says only the most indisputable and trivial thing. For who is likely to claim that anyone is wholly without freedom? If I am an eye-servant, can I therefore not be free from countless things, form faith in Zeus, for example, or the desire for fame, and so on? So why shouldn't a whipped slave also be able to be inwardly free from an unchristian attitude, from hatred for his enemies, etc.? He then has “Christian freedom,” is rid of the unchristian; but is he absolutely free, free from everything, for example, from the Christian delusion, or from bodily pain, etc.?

Meanwhile, this all seems to be said more against the name than against the thing. But is the name unimportant, and hasn't a word, a shibboleth, always inspired and – beguiled people? Butt between freedom and ownness, there is still a deeper gap than the mere difference between the words.

The whole world wants freedom, everyone longs for its reign to come. Oh enchantingly beautiful dream of a flowering “reign of freedom,” a “free human race”! – who has not dreamed of it? So human beings should become free, entirely free, free from all constraint! From all constraint, really from all? Should they never put any constraints on themselves anymore? “ Oh, yes, that, of course; don't you see that isn't constraint at all?” Well then, at any rate, they should get free from religious belief, from the strict duties of morality, from the inexorability of the law, from... – “What a dreadful misunderstanding!” Well then, what are they supposed to get free from, and what not?

The charming dream melts away; awakened, one rubs his half-open eyes and stares at the prosaic questioner. “What should people be free from?” – From blind belief, one cries. What's that? another exclaims, all faith is blind belief; they must become free from all faith. No, no, for God's sake – the first goes off again – don't throw all faith away from you, otherwise the power of brutality breaks in. We must have the republic – a third can be heard – and get free – from all commanding lords. That's no help at all, says a fourth: we just get a new lord then, a “ruling majority”; rather let us free ourselves from this dreadful inequality. – Oh, unhappy equality, again I hear your uncouth roar! How I had dreamed just now so beautifully of a paradise of freedom, and what – impudence and lack on restraint now raises its wild hue and cry! So the first laments, and pulls himself together to take up the sword against “excessive freedom.” Quickly we hear nothing but the clashing swords of the disagreeing dreamers of freedom.

In every instance, the urge for freedom has come to the desire for a specific freedom, for example, freedom of religion, i.e., the religious person wants to become free and independent; from what? Perhaps from faith? No! But from religious inquisitors! So now “political or bourgeois” freedom. The bourgeois wants to become free, not from the bourgeoisie, but from the rule of functionaries, the arbitrariness of princes, etc. Prince Metternich7 once said that he had “found a way that was suitable for leading people on the path of genuine freedom for all the future.” The Comte de Provence8 ran away from France at the very moment that it began to prepare the “reign of freedom,” and said: “My captivity had become intolerable for me: I had but one passion, the desire for freedom; I thought only of this.”

The urge for a specific freedom always entails the aim of a new rule, as then the revolution “could give its defenders the uplifting feeling that they were fighting for freedom,” but truthfully only because they were after a specific freedom, thus a new rule, the “rule of law.”

You all want freedom, you want freedom. So why do you haggle over more or less. Freedom can only be the whole of freedom; a piece of freedom is not freedom. Do you despair of the possibility of getting the whole of freedom, freedom from all, indeed do you take it for madness to even wish for it? – Well then, give up chasing after phantoms, and spend your efforts on something better than – the unattainable.

Yes, but there is nothing better than freedom!”

So what do you have when you have freedom, namely – since here I will not speak of your piecemeal bits of freedom – complete freedom? Then you are rid of everything, everything that has embarrassed you, and there would probably be nothing that does not embarrass you once in your life and make you uncomfortable. And for whose sake do you want to get rid of it? Clearly, for your own sake, because it is in your way! But if something wasn't the least bit uncomfortable to you, but on the contrary quite as you like it, for example, the gentle, but irresistibly commanding gaze of your lovers – then you would not want to be rid of and free from it. Why not? Again for your own sake! So you take yourselves as the measure and judge over all things. You gladly let freedom go when unfreedom, the “sweet labor of love,” suits you; and you take up your freedom again when it begins to suit you better, assuming, that is, which is not the point here, that you have no fear of such a repeal of the union for other (perhaps religious) reasons.

Why don't you want to take courage now to actually make yourselves completely and utterly the central point and the main thing? Why snatch at freedom, your dream? Are you your dream? Don't first ask your dreams, your visions,9 your thoughts, because this is all “hollow theory.” Ask yourselves and ask after yourselves – this is practical and you know you would very much like to be “practical.” But there one listens for what his God (of course, whatever he imagines with the name God is his God) is likely to say about it, and another for what his moral feeling, his conscience, his sense of duty may decide about it, and a third calculates what the people would think of it – and when each has thus asked his Lord God (the people are as good a Lord God as, and indeed more solid than, the otherworldly and imaginary one: vox populi, vox dei10), he then adapts himself to his Lord's will and not listens at all to what he himself would like to say and decide.

Therefore turn to yourselves rather than to your gods and idols. Bring out of yourselves what is in you, bring it to light, bring yourselves out as manifestation11.

How one acts only from himself, and asks after nothing else, Christians have depicted in “God.” He acts “as it pleases him.” And the foolish human being, who could do exactly the same thing, is instead supposed to act as it “pleases God.” – If one says, God also proceeds according to eternal laws, that is fitting for me too, since I also can't leave my skin, but have my law in my whole nature, i.e., in myself.

But one only needs to remind you of yourselves to immediately bring you to despair. “What am I?” each of you then asks himself. An abyss of lawless and unregulated impulses, desires, wishes, passions, a chaos without light or a guiding star! How am I supposed to get a correct answer if – without regard for God's commandments or the duties that morality prescribes, without regard for the voice of reason, which in the course of history, after bitter experiences, has raised the best and most reasonable things into law – I simply ask myself? My passion would advise me to do the most senseless thing. – So each one considers himself to be – the devil; because if, from a lack of concern for religion, etc., he only considered himself an animal, he would easily find that the animal, which only follows its impulses (its advice, so to speak), doesn't advise or impel itself to do the “most senseless” things, but rather takes very appropriate steps. But the habit of religious thinking has biased our minds so grievously that in our nakedness and naturalness, we – terrify ourselves; it has degraded us so that we consider ourselves depraved, born devils. Of course, it comes to you at once that your calling requires you to do the “good,” the moral, the right. Now if you ask yourselves what to do, how can the right voice sound forth from you, the voice that points out the path of the good, the right, the true, etc.? How do God and Belial12 harmonize?

But what would you think if someone told you: “that one is supposed to listen to God, conscience, duties, laws, etc., is nonsense with which people have stuffed you head and heart and made you crazy?” And if he asked you how it is that you know so surely that the voice of nature is a seducer? And if he even demanded that you turn the thing around and actually consider the voice of God and conscience to be the devil's work? There are such graceless people; how will you deal with them? You cannot appeal to your clergymen, parents, and good people, because these are precisely the ones they designate as your seducers, as the true seducers and corrupters of youth, who diligently sow the tares of self-loathing and reverence for God, clogging young hearts and making young heads stupid.

But now those people go on and ask: For whose sake do you trouble yourself over God's and other commandments? Surely you don't think this is done merely as a favor to God? No, again you do it – for your own sake. – So here again you are the main thing, and everyone must tell himself: I am my everything and I do everything and I do everything for my own sake. If one day it became clear to you that God, the commandments, etc., only harm you, that they reduce and ruin you, indeed, you would cast them off from you just as the Christians condemned Apollo or Minerva or heathen morality. Admittedly, they put Christ and then Mary, as well as Christian morality, in their place; but they did this also for their soul's welfare, thus from egoism or ownness.

And it was through this egoism, this ownness, that they got rid of the old world of gods and became free from it. Ownness created a new freedom; because ownness is the creator of everything, as brilliance (a particular ownness), which is always originality, has for a long time been considered the creator of new, world-historical productions.

If your efforts are ever to make “freedom” count, then exhaust its demands. Who is supposed to be free? You, I , we. Free from what? From everything that is not you, not I, not we. So I am the core that is to be delivered from all wrappings – that is to be set free from all cramping shells. What is left when I have been freed from everything I am not? Only I and nothing but I. But freedom has nothing to offer this I itself. As to what more is supposed to happen now, since I have become free, freedom is silent, as our governments, when a prisoner's time is up, just release him and cast him out into desolation.

Now why, if one strives for freedom out of love for the I, why not choose the I itself as beginning, middle and end? Am I not worth more than freedom? Am I not the one who makes myself free, am I not the first? Even unfree, even in a thousand fetter, still I am; and I do not, like freedom, only exist as a future thing, in hopes, but even as the most degraded slave I am also – present.

Think it over well and decide whether you want to put on your banner the dream of “freedom” or the resolution of “egoism,” of “ownness.” “Freedom” rouses your rage against everything that is not you; “egoism” calls you to joy over yourselves, to self-enjoyment. “Freedom” is and remains a longing, a romantic lament, a Christian hope for otherworldliness and the future; “ownness” is a reality that, from itself, removes just as much unfreedom as hinders you by barring your own way. You will not want to renounce what doesn't bother you, and when it starts to bother you, why, you know that “ you must obey yourselves rather than men”!

Freedom only teaches: Get yourselves rid, relieve yourselves, of everything burdensome; it does not teach you who you yourselves are. Rid, rid! thus its watchword resounds, and you, eager to follow its call, even get rid of yourselves, you “deny yourselves.” But ownness calls you back to yourselves, it says, “Come to yourself!” Under the aegis of freedom you get rid of many kinds of things, but something new oppresses you again: “You've gotten rid of the Evil One; evil is left.”13 As own you are actually rid of everything, and what clings to you you have accepted; it is your choice and your pleasure. The own one is the free-born, the one free from the start; the free one, on the contrary, is only the freedom addict, the dreamer and romantic.

The former is free from the beginning, because he recognizes nothing but himself; he does not need to free himself first, because from the start he rejects everything outside himself, because he prizes nothing more than himself, deems nothing higher than himself, in short, because he stars from himself and “comes to himself.” Constrained by filial respect, he is still already working to “free” himself of this constraint. Ownness works in the little egoist and gets him the desired freedom.

Thousands of years of civilized culture have obscured what you are to you, have made you believe that you are not egoists, but are called to be idealists (“good people”). Shake that off! Don't seek for freedom, which just deprives you of yourselves, in “self-denial”; but rather seek yourselves, become egoists, each one of you become an almighty I. Or more clearly, Just recognize yourselves again, recognize what you actually are, and let go of your hypocritical endeavors, your foolish addiction to be something other than what you are. I call them hypocritical, because you have still remained egoists all these thousands of years, but sleeping, self-deceiving, crazy egoists, you Heauton Timorumenoses,14 you self-tormentors. Religions have never yet been able to dispense with “promises” of one sort or another, whether they refer to the afterlife or to this one (“long life,” etc.); because the human being is hungry for gain and does nothing “gratis.” But what about that “doing good for the sake of the good” without prospect of reward? As if here too the reward was not contained in the satisfaction it would grant. Thus religion is also founded on our egoism and – exploits it; calculated on our desires, it stifles many others for the sake of one. This then gives the phenomenon of duped egoism, where I don't satisfy myself, but one of my desires, e.g., the desire for blessedness. Religion promises me this – “the highest good”; to gain this I pay no attention to any of my other desires and do not nourish them. – All your doings are unconfessed, secret, covert and hidden egoism. But because this is egoism that you do not want to confess to yourselves, that you conceal from yourselves, thus not obvious and evident egoism, consequently unconscious egoism, therefore it is not egoism, but slavery, service, self-denial; you are egoists, and you are not, because you deny egoism. Where you most seem to be such, you have drawn upon the word “egoist” – loathing and contempt.

I safeguard my freedom against the world to the extent that I make the world my own, i.e., “win and take it” for myself, by whatever force it requires, by force of persuasion, of request, of categorical demand, yes, even hypocrisy, fraud, etc.; because the means that I use for it depend upon what I am. If I am weak, I have only weak means, like those mentioned above, but which are still good enough for a considerable part of the world. Anyway, fraud, hypocrisy and lying look worse than they are. Who has not deceived the police, the law; who has not quickly put on the appearance of respectable loyalty upon encountering the sheriff's henchman, in order to hide an illegality the may have committed? Whoever has not done this has simple allowed violence to be done to him; he was a weakling from – conscience. I know that my freedom is already diminished when I cannot exercise my will on an other (whether this other be something without will, like a rock, or something with will, like a government, an individual, etc.); I deny my ownness when – in the presence of another – I give myself up, i.e., I give way, stand aside, submit; thus, by devotion, submission. For it is one thing when I give up my present course because it doesn't lead to the goal and so diverts me down a wrong path; and another when I give myself up. I get around a rock that stands in my way, until I have enough powder to blow it up; I get around the laws of a people, until I've gathered the strength to overthrow them. Since I cannot grasp the moon, is it therefore supposed to be “sacred” to me, an Astarte? If I could only grasp you, I surely would, and if I find a way to come up to you, you shall not frighten me! You incomprehensible one, you shall remain incomprehensible to me only until I have acquired the power of comprehension for myself and call you my own; I do not surrender before you, but only bide my time. If I am also content for now to touch something of you, I still remember it of you.

Vigorous people have always done so. When the “devoted” had raised up an undefeated power to be their master and had worshipped it, when they demanded worship from all, then along came such a son of nature that didn't want to submit, and who chased the worshipped power from its inaccessible Olympus. He called his “stand still” to the rolling sun and let the earth go round; the devoted had to make the best of it. He laid his ax to the sacred oaks, and the “devoted” were astonished that no heavenly fire consumed him. He threw the pope of Peter's chair, and the “devoted” didn't know how to prevent it. He is tearing down the business of divine right, and the “devoted” croak in vain and, finally, fall silent.

My freedom becomes complete only when it is my – power; but by this I cease to be merely a free person and become an own person. Why is the freedom of the people a “hollow word”? Because the people have no power! With a breath from the living I, I blow peoples over, whether it's the breath of a Nero, a Chinese emperor, or a poor writer. Why then do the chambers of the G– 15 parliament yearn in vain for freedom, and get lectured for it by the cabinet ministers? Because the are not the “powerful”! Power is a fine matter, and useful for many things; for “one goes further with a handful of power than with a bagful of right.” You long for freedom? You fools! If you took power, then freedom would come of itself. See, one who has power “stands above the law.” How does this view taste to you, you “law-abiding” people? But you have no taste!

The call for “freedom” rings out loudly all around. But does one feel or know what a bestowed or imposed freedom has to mean? People don't recognize in the complete fullness of the word that all freedom is essentially – self-liberation, i.e., that I can only have as much freedom as I get through my ownness. Of what use is it to sheep that no one curtails their freedom of speech? They keep on bleating. Give someone who is inwardly a Moslem, a Jew, or a Christian permission to say what he likes: he will still assert narrow-minded nonsense. If, on the other hand, certain others rob you of the freedom to speak and to hear, they understand quite correctly where their temporary advantage lies, since you might be able to say and hear something through which those “certain” persons would lose their credit.

If they still give you freedom, they are just scoundrels who give more than they have. Because then they give you nothing of their own, but stolen goods; they give you your own freedom, the freedom that you have to take for yourselves; and they give it to you only so that you don't take it and hold the thieves and swindlers responsible to boot. In their shrewdness they know well that given (imposed) freedom is no freedom, because only the freedom that one takes for oneself, thus the egoist's freedom, rides with full sails. Bestowed freedom strikes its sails as soon as a storm – or calm – comes; it must always have – a gentle and moderate breeze.

Here lies the difference between self-liberation and emancipation (acquittal, setting free). Those who today stand in the opposition thirst and shout to be “set free.” The princes should “declare their people of age,” i.e., emancipate them! Behave as if you are of age, and you are so without any declaration of majority; behave as if you are not so, and you are not worthy of it, and never would be of age even through a declaration of majority. The mature Greeks drove their tyrants away, and the mature son makes himself independent of his father. If the Greeks had waited until their tyrants graciously granted them majority, they might have had a long wait. The sensible father throws the son who won't grow up out, and keeps the house for himself; it serves the fool right.

The one who is set free is nothing but a freedman, a libertinus, a dog dragging along a piece of chain: he is an unfree man in the garment of freedom, like the ass in the lion's skin. Emancipated Jews are certainly not made better in themselves, but are only facilitated as Jews, although the one who eases their condition is certainly more than a devout Christian, because the latter couldn't do this without inconsistency. But emancipated or not emancipated, a Jew remains a Jew; the one who is not self-liberated is merely an – emancipated man. The Protestant state can certainly set the Catholics free (emancipate them); but since they do not free themselves, they remain merely – Catholics.

Selfishness and unselfishness have already been talked about. The friends of freedom are enraged against selfishness because in their religious striving after freedom, they cannot free themselves from the sublime “self-denial.” The anger of the liberal is aimed at egoism, because the egoist, indeed, never strives for any thing [Sache] for the thing's sake:the thing must serve him. It is egoistic to ascribe no value of its own, no “absolute” value to a thing, but rather to seek its value in me. One often hears of studying to get a job, so often considered one of the most repulsive traits of egoistic behavior, because it manifests the most shameful desecration of science; but what is science for, if not to be consumed? If someone doesn't know how to use it for anything better than getting a job, then his egoism is truly a petty one, because this egoist's power is limited; but only someone possessed could blame the egoistic element in it and the desecration of science.

Because Christianity, incapable of letting individuals be considered as unique ones, thought of them only as dependents, and was really nothing but a social theory, a doctrine of living together both of man with God and of man with man; therefore in it, everything “own” must come into the lowest disrepute: selfishness, a mind of one's own, self-will, ownness, self-love, etc. The Christian way of looking at things has gradually on all sides re-stamped honorable words as dishonorable; why not bring them back to honor? So “scorn”16 in its old sense is the same as a joke, but for Christian seriousness, amusement became a dishonor, because this seriousness has no sense of humor; “nervy” formerly meant only bold, brave; “iniquity [Frevel]” was only daring. It's well know what dirty looks were given to the word “reason” for so long.

Our language has adapted itself pretty well to the Christian standpoint, and the general awareness is still too Christian not to shy away from everything non-Christian as from something incomplete or evil. Therefore, it is also bad for “selfishness.”

Selfishness, in the Christian sense, means something like this: I look only to whether something is useful to me as a sensual human being. Is sensuality then the whole of my ownness? Am I in my own senses when I abandon myself to sensuality? Do I follow myself, my own determination, when I follow that? I am my own only when I am in my own power, and not in the power of sensuality or any other thing (God, humanity, authority, law, state, church, etc.); what is useful to me, this self-owned or self-possessing one, my selfishness pursues.

Besides, one feels himself forced at every moment to believe in the constantly slandered slandered selfishness as an all-mastering power. In the February 10, 1844 session17, Welcker argues a motion on the dependence of judges and sets forth in a detailed speech that removable, dismissible, transferable, and pensionable judges – in short, such members of a court of law as can be damaged and endangered by mere administrative process – are completely unreliable, yes, and forfeit all respect and trust from the people. The profession of judge, Welcker cries, is demoralized by this dependence! In dry words, this means nothing else than that judges will find it more advantageous if they make there judgments as the ministers would have it than as the law would have it. How is that to be helped? Perhaps by reminding the judges of the shame of their venality, and then cultivating the confidence that they will stop and think, and from now on deem justice higher than their own selfishness? No, the people does not achieve this romantic trust, because it feels that selfishness is stronger than any other motive. Thus, the same people who have been judges up to now may remain so, however much one has convinced himself that they acted as egoists; only they must no longer find their selfishness benefiting from the venality of justice, but stand so independent from the government that with a proper judgment they don't overshadow their own thing, their “well-understood interest,” but rather gain a comfortable combination of a good salary and esteem among the citizens.

So Welcker and the citizens of Baden consider themselves secure only when they can count on selfishness. What is one supposed to think then of the countless phrases of unselfishness that overflow from their mouths at other times?

I have a different relationship to a cause that I am pursuing selfishly than to one that I am serving unselfishly. One can cite the following identification marks: I can sin or commit a sin against the latter, but I can only lose, push away, or deprive myself of it, i.e., act imprudently. Free trade is considered in both ways, being looked upon in part as a freedom which may be granted or withdrawn under certain circumstances, in part as one which is to be held sacred in all instances.

If I am not concerned about a thing in and for itself, and do not desire it for its own sake, then I desire it only for the advantage it gives, for its usefulness, for the sake of another end, such as oysters for a pleasant flavor. Now won't every thing whose final end he himself is, serve the egoist as means? And should he protect a thing that serves him for nothing, for example, should the proletarian protect the state?

Ownness includes all that is own in itself, and again makes honorable what Christian language dishonored. But ownness also has no alien standard, as it is not at all an idea like freedom, morality, humanity, etc. It is only a description of – the owner.

1 Romans 6: 18

2 Galatians 4:26

3 The German word los used here is also the word used in the previous sentences for “rid.” – translator's note.

4 I Peter 2: 16

5 James 2: 12

6 Wesen in the German. The word can also translate as being, but I am generally choosing to translate it as “essence” to point out the ways Stirner plays with and overturns Hegelian terminology.

7 A reactionary prince who fought against the all of the various left-wing and radical movements of his time (1773-1859).

8 The brother of King Louis XVI, who escaped execution when he fled France, conspired against the French revolution, and when the reaction succeeded in 1814, took power as King Louis XVIII.

9 Vorstellung – translator.

10 “The voice of the people is the voice of god.”

11 Offenbarung is more often translated as “revelation.” I wasn't sure whether to keep this and assume that Stirner intended it as subtle sarcasm against religion, or to use the less religious translation. I chose the latter, but with reservations. – translator.

12 Stirner is referring to the use of this word as found in 2 Corinthians 6:15 where the word is used as another name for Satan.

13 Based on the words of Mephistopheles in “The Witch's Kitchen” in Part One of Goethe's Faust. Line 2509.

14 The title of a play by the Latin dramatist Publius Terentius Afer. It translates as “the self-tormentor.”

15 “German,” written in this way to evade the censors.

16In this passage, I used a thesaurus and an etymological dictionary to find English words for which this would work. Where it didn't, I have put the German in brackets.

17Of the Baden legislature.


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