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By Richard Sigurdson

Contrary to his ordinary portrayal as a disinterested aesthete, Swiss cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt is characterized as an unique social and political philosopher in Richard Sigurdson's well timed e-book Jacob Burckhardt's Social and Political Thought. Burckhardt's considering on a few rules - together with the connection among the person and the mass, the strain among the beliefs of equality and human excellence, and the position of the highbrow within the smooth nation - is the topic of insightful research, hence offering an extraordinary research into Burckhardt's culture-critique of the 19th century. different vital points of Burckhardt's existence that unquestionably inspired either his ancient and political concept, similar to his ambiguous courting with Friedrich Nietzsche, are rigorously scrutinised during this groundbreaking research of the Swiss historian.

Known basically as an historian, Burckhardt's old writings supply not just a robust critique of his personal instances, but additionally a vast ranging political philosophy that may be positioned in the greater German culture of comparing politics in line with the values and criteria of artwork and tradition. even though Burckhardt himself expressed his scepticism in the direction of basic theories and claimed to be without a private philosophical place, via an exam of his works Sigurdson argues that either implicit and specific political reflections and theories are recognisable.

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No Providence, no Theodicy, could be discerned behind it, ' Trevor-Roper rightly adds. 'Nor was it necessarily an improvement/58 Burckhardt argues that there was an essential continuity of political authority from the old order to the new; the Christian rulers proved to be no different, no more moral, than the pagans. But there was a discontinuity in the sphere of culture. Here Burckhardt the art historian casts a critical eye on the decadent and lacklustre culture of antiquity in its senility.

77 Politics as an art work: this is the key metaphor that unites Burckhardt's disparate stories and anecdotes about the politics of the age. Government is an art form, and skilful practitioners of the political art - those who can command the means needed to shape their subject matter as they wish - get to enjoy the rewards of power and authority. In this context, political authority loses its traditional legitimacy and has to rely solely on the skills of the rational individual. Once again Burckhardt's analysis here reminds us of Machiavelli.

He studied Protestant theology in Basel from 1837 to 1839. However, his religious studies ended abruptly when he realized that he lacked sufficient faith in the doctrines of revelation and the divinity of Christ to pursue a career as a pastor. 2 De Wette was a radical scholar who had come to Basel under unusual circumstances. He had been suspended from his post at the University of Berlin for holding unorthodox religious and political views. 3 De Wette's lectures had an overwhelming effect on the young man.

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