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Thursday, June 10, 2010


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This got me thinking about Max Stirner and his seminal work "The Unique One and His Own". An old friend of mine who was brilliant philosopher and philologist, and was fluent in German, claimed it should translate as "The Unique One and His Property". At the time of his early death we were exploring the idea of doing a new translation of this great work.

Have you studied Stirner? Any thoughts?


By the way, I like your blog. I have made it a regular stop in my day to day surfing.


Just a pedantic nitpicky point here. I don't know where the maxim 'existence is a predicate', but it almost certainly originated in the period of traditional logic, according to which every proposition consists of just two terms, subject and predicate, joined by the 'copula'. The question was whether the verb 'is' simply unites subject and predicate, saying that Socrates = a white thing, for example. Or whether it genuinely is part of the predicate, or can be expressed as part of it.

In this traditional sense, read 'predicate' as 'property'. Although a further complication is that in Aristotelian logic, 'property' is one of the 5 predicables: genus, species, differentia, property, accident

In the modern sense, a predicate is simply a bit of a sentence with a gap in it. There can be more than one gap, e.g. '- loves -'. In the modern sense, obviously '- exists' has to be a predicate.


Thanks for the comment and the kind words. I have the 1907 translation of Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum by Steven T. Byington as The Ego and his Own. My marginalia suggest that I read parts of it in 1973-74. But I didn't make a proper study of it, and haven't returned to Stirner since then. But of late I have been reading some anarchist stuff and this makes me want to re-read Stirner.

"The Unique One and his Property" would be a good translation of the title. Eigentum is what one has or possesses, what one owns, what is one's property. One would use Eigenschaft, however, if one were referring to an attribute or feature. Thus my car is part of my Eigentum whereas my weight is one of my Eigenschaften.

There are analogies between the two uses of 'property.' Thus we speak of possession in both cases. I possess my being male and I possess my car, but not in quite the same sense. I instantiate my properties in the Eigenschaft sense but not my properties in the Eigentum sense.

>>In this traditional sense, read 'predicate' as 'property'. << That was one of the points I made. But I was thinking of Kant: Offenbar, das Sein ist kein reales Praedikat. "Obviously, Being is not a real predicate." That means: Beng or existence is not a real property, where 'real' means: pertaining to quiddity or whatness.

>>In the modern sense, a predicate is simply a bit of a sentence with a gap in it.<< Right. Start with 'London exists,' take out 'London' and you get: ' ___ exists.' So it is obvious that 'exists' is a first-level grammatical predicate. But it doesn't follow that existence is a first-level property. In a logically sanitized language a la Frege, 'exists' is not an admissible first-level predicate.

Steven T. Byington

Thanks for that. I thought Tucker was the first.

Thanks for writing this, I learned a lot from it.

You're welcome, Komal. Part of the purpose of this blog is to provide free philosophy lessons.

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