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wishing to devote their lives to the study of ancient languages and literature, viewed the study of antiquity as a curiosity and not a necessity. Countering the association between classical studies and elitism, Burckhardt expounded his reasons for writing a course of lectures on Greek culture in the introduction to The Greeks and Greek Civilization.

Burckhardt presented his lectures as "a tentative piece of work," and claimed that he was and would "remain a learner and fellow student . . . not a classical scholar."37 He thus stated his purpose "to select only what most strikingly illustrates Greek life." Next he delivered his thesis in a somewhat Hegelian manner:

The task, as I conceive of it, is to treat the history of Greek habits of thought and mental attitudes, and to seek to establish the vital forces, both constructive and destructive, that were active in Greek life. It is not in the narrative mode, though indeed primarily through history (since they are part of universal history), that the Greeks must be studied in their essential peculiarities. . . . It is the history of the Greek mind or spirit that must be the aim of the whole study.38

Enigmatically, Burckhardt reverted to Hegelian vocabulary by discussing the "Greek mind or spirit." His mention of "universal history" alludes to Hegel's "world history."

Despite a superficial similarity, Burckhardt's humanistic description of "vital forces" lies at odds with Hegel's essentially divine notion of spirit. Furthermore, Burckhardt's view that divine knowledge will remain a mystery to man contrasts with Hegel's view that patterns in history can be analyzed to determine divine reason. Burckhardt proposes a less ambitious goal for his humanistic spirit. He employs it as a unique expression of a particular people and time. Hegel's spirit, on the contrary, exists as an independent, universal entity. Whatever similarities Burckhardt's vocabulary may have with Hegel's result from a common vocabulary and intellectual milieu, but not from common goals.

More importantly, Burckhardt rejected the narrative mode as the most effective means of expressing his goals. A narrative mode implies a chronology, which inevitably relies on events for structure. Burckhardt did not ignore the role of events in history. He simply relegated events to a secondary status, because "'events' are exactly what is easiest to learn from books, while our task is to


37. Jacob Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization, trans. Sheila Stern (New York: St.Martin's Press, 1998), 3.
38. Ibid., 4.


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