Tag Archive: egoism: Social Memory Complex

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Ramana Maharshi and Egoism

I've had the pleasure of engaging in long-running conversations with a few egoists, and I'm always trying to delve deeper than the often disruptive or obscurantist polemics that so characterize egoism. To my mind there is a foundational question at the heart of the egoist enterprise that never seems to get due attention: what is this ego, this self you go on about? How can us egoists go on and on about our elevation of self over every other concern, and yet not deal with the character, the nature of that self? This is especially frustrating when we acknowledge the social construction of the ego, recognizing that the dualism we stress is contrived in at least some important ways.

As you may recall, my approach to egoism is infused with an interest in the metaphysical. Much of political egoism is tied to a spiritual teleos for me because that's my experience of self, my reality tunnel, my model of the phenomenal world. Indeed, egoism appeals to me because it acknowledges the primacy of the subject in subjectivism. Now on the one hand, I go to great lengths not to impose this approach on others. It's not rational, and therefore I simply cannot argue it, and that's not a helpful mode to discuss such matters anyway.

However, I have no qualms about asserting the utility of a more contemplative, introspective, inward-oriented approach to the nature of the ego and the self (as well as the politics involved). I frequently and vigorously push back on the notion that the end goal of egoism is some sort of exaltation of the individual self. Indeed, I'm inclined to think that the ego is much more of a social phenomenon than we often realize, and our experience of ourselves individually can be as memetic and artifical as any institution.


Written on Saturday, November 02, 2013
Tags: egoism, spirituality

The Unique One and the Universal

Over the past two to three years, I've engaged in many conversations featuring the appeal to moral principles asserted to be held in common. Some who've known me for a while may notice that over this period I've begun to distance myself from appealing to these moral principles as a basis for my arguments. This has been a rule I've adhered to largely from both my own investigations of my beliefs as well as the influence of Max Stirner's "The Ego and Its Own" (or, as Shawn Wilbur correctly points out is a better translation of the title, "The Unique One and Its Property").

Stirner taught me that abstractions and concepts ("spooks") often rule us just as completely and arbitrarily as corporeal authorities, and that true freedom requires one to break free of all preconceived notions of propriety, convention, and duty. This philosophy is often called "egoism" and is treated by many as a form of nihilistic realism culminating in an almost Nietzschean "will to power". All constraints on the ego are to be discarded in order for the self to express itself fully through its property, its ideas.

This causes understandable concern in many. The search for perfect and complete freedom is framed in terms that are positively anti-social. If adhering to ethical codes or moral laws or legal statutes or social conventions should displease you, why not throw them all out? After all, what makes them all more valuable than your own happiness? And I find this a hard argument to reject without appealing to other spooks.


Written on Monday, August 16, 2010
Tags: left-libertarian, philosophy, egoism, spirituality, law-of-one