Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

of many wills. Hegel argued that the noumenal was spirit and that property was the infusion, 
objectification, and self-representation of spirit in the material world. Karl Marx built his 
scientific communism upon Hegel. Max Stirner (1844/1963), in an existential orientation 
opposed to communism, revived Spinoza’s argument that the possession of power entails the 
right to use it. For Stirner, noumenal reality is a self-created, unique individuality whose 
freedom is realized through the assertion of power, particularly in acts of owning: - 
My power is my property. My power gives me property. | myself am my power and through 
it own my property. (Stirner, in Paterson, 1971, p. 80) 
Schopenhauer, in a more biological orientation, argued that the thing-in-itself was will, seen 
especially in the individual's and species’ endless strivings to survive. For Schopenhauer, 
property is a moral right to a selorented sphere of control: 
For property, which is not taken from a man without wrong, can, according to our 
explanation of wrong, only be that which has been produced by his own powers. Therefore 
by taking this we really take the powers of his body from the will objectified in it, to make 
them subject to the will objectified in another body. For only so does the wrong-doer, by 
seizing, not the body of another, but a lifeless thing quite different from it, break into the 
sphere of the assertion of will of another person, because the powers, the work of this other 
body, are, as it were, incorporated and identified with this thing. It follows from this that all 
true, i.e. moral, right of property is based simply and solely on work, as was pretty generally 
assumed before Kant, and is distinctly and beautifully expressed in the oldest of all codes 
of law: “Wise men who know the past explain that a cultured field is the property of him who 
cut down the wood and cleared and ploughed it, as an antelope belongs to the first hunter 
who mortally wounds it” (Laws of Manu, ix, 44). (Schopenhauer, 1964/1818, pp. 432-433) 
According to the Enciclopedia Universal llustrada (1925), Horwicz (1878) developed his 
psychology in opposition to Schopenhauer and argued that self-feeling, not will, was the 
foundation of self. William James (1890), in his discussion of self-feelings and possessions, 
praises Horwicz and quotes him extensively, though mis-cites him. Although James chides 
German Kantian and Hegelian philosophy for its complicated style, he explicitly places himself 
in its tradition, particularly through the writings of Caird and Green. 
It is important to note that James (1890) also explicitly rejects the explanations of property 
by the British utilitarian tradition of Hume, Bentham, James Mill, and Bain. For the utilitarians, 
man is fundamentally motivated to maximize cleasure and minimize pain (Magid, 1963). Bain, 
who was James’ contemporary and his encyclopedic equivalent in Britain, reduced other 
explanations of property to a common utilitarian explanation: 
1f | could be satisfied that the strong feelings connected with Property and with Liberty are 
in any degree instinctive, | should have to view them also as products of evolution. 1am 
not, however, prepared to affirm that the regard to possessions and the desire for freedom 
of movements, may not grow out of the early and continuous sense of the value of these in 
promoting our immediate gratifications, and in warding off pressing discomforts. (Bain, 
1880, p. 67)

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