Reflections on History

Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen

Автор(и) : Jacob Burckhardt

Издател : Liberty Classics

Място на издаване : Indianapolis, USA

Година на издаване : 1979

ISBN : 0-913966-38-X

Брой страници : 353

Език : английски


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Another work by Jacob Burckhardt, one published posthumously, Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen, translated as Force & Freedom: Reflections on History by James Hastings, Nichols, (New York 1943, henceforward Reflections) was based on a series of lectures which Burckhardt gave between 1868 and 1871 and offers fundamental insight into his concept of history.
The first four chapters of Reflections are based on a course entitled 'Introduction to the Study of History' which was held at Basel in the winter of 1868/69 and again in 1870/71. The lectures were not concerned with events and dates but with the historical process. Through them Burckhardt explored the three major forces which shape a civilization: State, Religion and Culture. Once again he clearly rejects any claims to formulating abstract principles of history. His aim is to observe 'the recurrent, constant and typical as echoing in us and intelligible through us.'
The establishment of a state or a religion, which often entails the displacement of a previous power that has become corrupt or decadent, is frequently based on ideals to set up a new order. Inevitably, however, there arises the concern to maintain itself in authority. Power, in the end process, has a corrosive action on humanity. The role of the state fulfils the expedient of checking the factions (be they political, religious or representative of individual group interests) which would strive to gain power by means of force, and to maintain a sense of security and continuity. Religions, Burckhardt argues, 'are the expression of human nature's eternal and indestructible metaphysical need.' Both state and religion are constants which seek to maintain a stable and perdurable identity of a civilization. Change however, as Burckhardt points out, is the essence of history. The role of culture as the one variable was not an arbitrary choice on his part.

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