Jakob Burckhardt

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Burckhardt, Jakob


Born May 25, 1818, in Basel; died there Aug. 8, 1897. Swiss cultural historian and philosopher.

Burckhardt studied at the University of Berlin under L. Ranke and was a university professor in Basel from 1858 to 1893. Burckhardt was the initiator of a school in historiography that, in contrast to the Ranke school, brought to the foreground not political history but the history of spiritual culture. (Sometimes Burckhardt’s school is called the cultural-historical school.) As a cultural historian, Burckhardt dealt with problems of ancient Greece, the Renaissance, and the baroque. His principal work, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860; in Russian translation, vols. 1-2, 1904-06), provides a number of vivid pictures of the cultural life of the Renaissance, organized around the constant idea of Renaissance individualism, in which Burckhardt uncovers the sources of the new European bourgeois world perception. By the end of his life Burckhardt was arriving at increasingly pessimistic conclusions regarding the prospects for the existence of liberal societal forms and a free spiritual personality in the late bourgeois epoch; Burckhardt’s criticism of culture is one of the links between Romanticism and the predictions of a new barbarism by Nietzsche (on whom the late Burckhardt had an influence) and Spengler.


Gramsci, A. Izbr. proizv., vol. 3. Moscow, 1959. Pages 271-74, 291.
Kaegi, W. Jacob Burckhardt, vols. 1-2. Basel [1947-50].


References in periodicals archive ?
The great Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt gave praise to the ancient Greeks by commenting that "all subsequent objective perception of the world is only elaboration on the framework the Greeks began.
518--"Laughter, says the classic, is a sunbeam of the soul": Quoted in Jacob Burckhardt, Renaissance Culture (1860)
Here Greenblatt is implicitly arguing against the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt, who in the 19th century established what was to become the dominant conception of the Renaissance in the first half of the 20th.
They usually thought of the Renaissance, as Jacob Burckhardt did, as a renewed focus on the potentialities of humankind and of human nature, mainly as the result of the rediscovery of classical texts, and they often fractured a Medieval sacred worldview for the celebration of what could be called the profane.
Charles Ephrussi and Daniel Burckhardt, whom she mentions in this context, likewise suggested one as opposed to two journeys, whereas Jacob Burckhardt, Hermann Grimm, Gustav Friedrich Waagen, Heinrich Wofflin, Joseph Meder, and Moritz Thausing presuppose two.
Brigitte Kowanz played a decisive part in creating the facade design for Zwimpfer's subsequent project, the Jacob Burckhardt Haus.
The issue of genre is there, though not as acute as the one posed by Jacob Burckhardt about philosophies of history.
The Swiss cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt introduced the term into modern discourse in his now famous The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, originally published in 1860, which established him as the founder of cultural history.
Chua relies heavily on authors like Niall Ferguson and Immanuel Wallerstein, but she does not even refer to Arnold Toynbee, Oswald Spengler, Jacob Burckhardt, or Friedrich Nietzsche.
But that notion has been under assault since the insights of Jacob Burckhardt began to be questioned.
She came to know Edwin Denby, the dean of American dance critics, in 1978 and later married Jacob Burckhardt, son of the filmmaker and photographer Rudy Burckhardt, Denby's closest friend.