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of individuals; however, the two writings take very different approaches. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, published during Burckhardt's lifetime, represented a more conservative approach, emphasizing the analysis of artifacts and literary sources. Focused entirely on historical subjects, it contained very few statements of a speculative or philosophical nature. The Greeks and Greek Civilization used a more radical approach. It included a lengthy discussion of the purpose of cultural history. Moreover, it set a out plan for the use of cultural history to revitalize education and to impart a sense of history to Burckhardt's contemporaries.

Discussing the individual plans of The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy and The Greeks and Greek Civilization would prove futile if the major influences on Burckhardt's work, his Swiss background and the publication of Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of World History did not receive consideration. Born and raised in Switzerland, Burckhardt belonged to an old and well-established family in the Basle area. His family, referred to as the "Medicis of Basle," had economic and political influences in Basle since at least the sixteenth century.1

The general pessimism and persistent doubt found in Burckhardt's writings stem partly from what the Francophone Swiss have referred to as "le malaise helvétique."2 Literally, "Swiss discomfort," the expression captures the sense of social isolation fostered by Switzerland's long history of independence and prosperity. Looking out on a chaotic Europe, Swiss observers like Burckhardt had little hope for Western Europe. Pessimism seemed a natural consequence of the contrast between France, Italy, and Germany, who sought to redefine themselves politically in the nineteenth century, and Switzerland which enjoyed political stability since the thirteenth century.

Considering Burckhardt's background, it is not surprising that he did not accept Hegel's presentation of a philosophy of history. Influential throughout the nineteenth century, Hegel attempted to supersede previous forms of history with an abstract theory that he called "world history." He briefly defined it as:


1. Nicholas Bouvier , Gordon Craig, and Lionel Gossman, Geneva, Zurich, Basle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 78.
2. André Reszler, Mythes et Identité de la Suisse (Geneva: Georg Editeur, 1986), 9.
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