Arnold Joseph Toynbee, 1889 - 1975
TIME magazine cover (17 March 1947)
Born: 14 April 1889, London, England, UK
Died: 22 October 1975, York, England, UK
Toynbee was raised at London, educated at Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford. He taught at Balliol College briefly, then King's College London, the London School of Economics, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Not only a student and teacher of history, he helped make some of it, serving in the British Foreign Office through both world wars and attending both Paris peace conferences (1919 and 1946). In his 12-volume A Study of History he identified 23 distinct civilizations throughout history (seven still in existence), analyzing their origins, their strengths, and the eventual collapse of most of them. His central thesis was that civilizations emerge due to responses to challenges in the environment, and those that cannot continue to respond will fail; unlike some comparative historians he did not see the rise and fall of civilizations governed by an inevitable cycle. Although highly regarded during his career, he has been widely criticized in recent decades.
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Arnold J. Toynbee quotes:
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- A city that outdistances man's walking powers is a trap for man. permalink
- A life which does not go into action is a failure. permalink
- America is a large friendly dog in a small room. Every time it wags its tail it knocks over a chair. permalink
- Anxiety and conscience are a powerful pair of dynamos. Between them, they have ensured that I shall work hard, but they cannot ensure that one shall work at anything worthwhile. permalink
- Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice. permalink
- As human beings, we are endowed with freedom of choice and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of God or nature. We must shoulder it ourselves. It is up to us. permalink
- Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor. permalink
- Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbour. permalink
Reader's Digest (October 1958)
- Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder. permalink
- Civilizations in decline are consistently characterised by a tendency towards standardization and uniformity. permalink
- Compassion is the desire that moves the individual self to widen the scope of its self-concern to embrace the whole of the universal self. permalink
Choose Life: A Dialogue with Daisaku Ikeda (1975)
- History is a vision of God's creation on the move. permalink
- History not used is nothing, for all intellectual life is action, like practical life, and if you don't use the stuff well, it might as well be dead. permalink
television broadcast on NBC (17 April 1955)
- History teaches us that when a barbarian race confronts a sleeping culture, the barbarian always wins. permalink
- I can not think of any circumstances in which advertising would not be an evil. permalink
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