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transform it into a real world, and give itself objective existence" called for a new Europe.13 Moreover, Hegel's assertion that "the individual may well be treated unjustly; but this is a matter of indifference to world history, which uses individuals only as instruments to further its own progress," set no moral limits on the means used to wage revolutions.14

What Hegel found uplifting in his own philosophy greatly disturbed Burckhardt. Furthermore, he condemn the use of Christianity as justification for abstracting and depersonalizing history, stating that "present-day Christianity is not up to the task; it has gone in for and got mixed up in the optimism for the last two hundred years."15 Hegel, in part, contributed to the rise of the optimism that concerned Burckhardt. While Hegel reassured his readers of the existence of the Spirit, Burckhardt complained of "the complete destruction of the idea of authority in the heads of mortals, whereupon . . . we periodically fall victim to sheer power."16 The Europeans of Burckhardt's day had, in his view, abandoned everything not for the "spirit," but for a false utopia.

Burckhardt, however, did not entirely reject Hegel as a model. Hegel's sense of historical unity and the "spirit of mankind" pervade Burckhardt's writings. In the introduction to The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Burckhardt lamented that "It is the most serious difficulty of the history of civilization that a great intellectual process must be broken up into single, and often into what seem arbitrary, categories in order to be understood."17 Burckhardt realized that logical, or at least pedagogical, divisions were necessary for the study of a particular time period. He did not totally eschew the notion of "spirit," nor did he particularly disagree with the concept of human intellectual life as a sort of continuum.

Generally, Burckhardt refused to speculate openly on philosophical matters in most of his historical works, but he debated the philosophical aspects of history in his correspondence with Friedrich Nietzsche after they met in Basle. In reference to Nietzsche, Burckhardt wrote to a friend that "Living here is one of [Schopenhauer's] faithful, with whom I converse from time to time, as far as I can express myself in his language."18


13. Ibid., 63-64.
14. Ibid., 65.
15. Burckhardt, Letters, 148.
16. Ibid., 147-48.
17. Burckhardt, Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, 21.
18. Burckhardt, Letters, 144.
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