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Jacob Burckhardt's liberal-conservatism

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Without in any way denying that ‘Burckhardt’s political thought is culture-critique in its essence’, I want to suggest that the task ahead for Burckhardt scholarship is to attempt to do something that Burckhardt himself refused to do, namely to outline a Burckhardtian political philosophy and prepare an analysis of its key principles. What, we have to ask ourselves, is the relationship between Burckhardt the politically astute cultural historian and a Burckhardtian political philosophy? How, for instance, do Burckhardt''s various writings reveal his views on the fundamental and perennial questions of political theory: what is the nature of the human individual; are human beings equal or unequal in nature; is the human essence freedom; what is the status of rationality, freedom and authority; does the state have any responsibility for truth and morality; what is the goal of government; what is the best possible regime; is the exercise of power a good thing; should there be limits on power and its possessors?

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University College of the Cariboo.

Publication date: March 1, 1992


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