Arnold J. Toynbee
Jump to navigation Jump to search
- Of the twenty or so civilizations known to modern Western historians, all except our own appear to be dead or moribund, and, when we diagnose each case, in extremis or post mortem, we invariably find that the cause of death has been either War or Class or some combination of the two. To date, these two plagues have been deadly enough, in partnership, to kill off nineteen out of twenty representatives of this recently evolved species of human society; but, up to now, the deadliness of these scourges has had a saving limit.
- Civilization on Trial (1948), chapter 2, p. 23.
- Now civilizations, I believe, come to birth and proceed to grow by successfully responding to successive challenges. They break down and go to pieces if and when a challenge confronts them which they fail to meet.
- Civilization on Trial (1948), chapter 4, p. 56.
- Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor.
- As quoted in Reader's Digest (October 1958).
- Variation: Civilization is a movement, not a condition. It is a voyage, not a harbor.
- As quoted in The Social Welfare Forum (1968) by the National Conference on Social Welfare.
- The human race's prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenceless against tigers than they are today when we have become defenceless against ourselves.
- "Man and Hunger: The Perspectives of History" (Speech to the World Food Congress, January 9, 1963).
- The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.
- Statement of 1964, as quoted in Mindfulness edited by Ellen J. Langer, p. 133; also in Social Creativity Vol. 2 (1999) edited by Alfonso Montuori and Ronald E. Purser.
- We shall have to share out the fruits of technology among the whole of mankind. The notion that the direct and immediate producers of the fruits of technology have a proprietary right to these fruits will have to be forgotten. After all, who is the producer? Man is a social animal, and the immediate producer has been helped to produce by the whole structure of society, beginning with his own education.
- Surviving the Future (1971), Oxford University Press, 1972, p. 95.
- 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.
- The Toynbee-Ikeda Dialogue: Man Himself Must Choose (1976).
- … the dogma that History is just "one damned thing after another...."
- "Law and Freedom in History," A Study of History, Vol. 2 (1957). The embedded quotation is attributable to Elbert Hubbard.
- Man’s true end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever. [The source of this quotation (with "chief" in place of "true") is the Westminster Shorter Catechism, http://www.reformed.org/documents/wsc/index.html?_top=http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC.html.]
- As quoted in Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY
- Aurangzeb's purpose in building those three mosques was the same intentionally offensive political purpose that moved the Russians to build their Orthodox cathedral in the city-centre at Warsaw. Those mosques were intended to signify that an Islamic government was reigning supreme, even over Hinduism's holiest of holy places. I must say that Aurangzeb had a veritable genius for picking out provocative sites. Aurangzeb and Philip II of Spain are a pair. They are incarnations of the gloomily fanatical vein in the Christian - Muslim - Jewish family of religions. Aurangzeb - poor wretched misguided bad man - spent a lifetime of hard labour in raising massive monuments to his own discredit. Perhaps the Poles were really kinder in destroying the Russians' self-discrediting monument in Warsaw than you have been in sparing Aurangzeb's mosques.
- Arnold J. Toynbee in 'One World and India' (New Delhi, 1960) pp. 59-60
- Now who are the individuals who are the greatest benefactors of the living generation of mankind? I should say: Confucius and Lao-Tse; the Buddha; the Prophets of Israel and Judah; Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad; and Socrates.
- Civilization on Trial. Oxford University Press. (1948). p. 156.
- Right and wrong are the same in Palestine as anywhere else. What is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that has committed the offence and has turned a deaf ear to the victims.
- Forward to The Transformation of Palestine, Northwestern University Press, USA,1971.
The Trend of International Affairs Since the War (1931)
- Address to the 1931 Copenhagen conference as published in International Affairs : Journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (November 1931)
- If we are frank with ourselves, we shall admit that we are engaged on a deliberate and sustained and concentrated effort to impose limitations upon the sovereignty and independence of the fifty or sixty local sovereign independent States which at present partition the habitable surface of the earth and divide the political allegiance of mankind.
It is just because we are really attacking the principle of local sovereignty that we keep on protesting our loyalty to it so loudly. The harder we press our attack upon the idol, the more pains we take to keep its priests and devotees in a fool’s paradise—lapped in a false sense of security which will inhibit them from taking up arms in their idol’s defense. The local national state, invested with the attributes of sovereignty — is an abomination of desolation standing in the place where it ought not. It has stood in that place now — demanding and receiving human sacrifices from its poor deluded votaries — for four or five centuries. Our political task in our generation is to cast the abomination out, to cleanse the temple and to restore the worship of the divinity to whom the temple rightfully belongs. In plain terms, we have to re-transfer the prestige and the prerogatives of sovereignty from the fifty or sixty fragments of contemporary society to the whole of contemporary society — from the local national states by which sovereignty has been usurped, with disastrous consequences, for half a millennium, to some institution embodying our society as a whole.
In the world as it is today, this institution can hardly be a universal Church. It is more likely to be something like a League of Nations. I will not prophesy. I will merely repeat that we are at present working, discreetly but with all our might, to wrest this mysterious political force called sovereignty out of the clutches of the local national states of our world. And all the time we are denying with our lips what we are doing with our hands...
A Study of History (1934–1961)
- Societies, not states, are 'the social atoms' with which students of history have to deal.
- Compared with the life-span of a human being the time-span of a civilization is so vast that a human observer cannot hope to take the measure of its curve unless he is in a position to view it in a distant perspective; and he can only obtain this perspective vis-a-vis some society that is extinct. He can never stand back sufficiently far from the history of the society in which he himself lives and moves and has his being. In other words, to assert of any living society, at any moment in its life, that it is the consummation of human history is to hazard a guess which is intrinsically unsusceptible of immediate verification. When we find that a majority of the members of all societies at all times make this assertion about their own civilizations, it becomes evident that their guesses have really nothing to do with any objective calculation of probabilities but are pure expressions of the egocentric illusion.
- No collection of facts is ever complete, because the universe is without bounds. And no synthesis or interpretation is ever final, because there are always fresh facts to be found after the first collection has been provisionally arranged.
- So-called racial characteristics are not really racial at all but are due to the historical experiences of the communities in question.
- The value of the goal lies in the goal itself; and therefore the goal cannot be attained unless it is pursued for its own sake.
- There is no such thing as gratitude in international politics.
- The history of almost every civilization furnishes examples of geographical expansion coinciding with deterioration in quality.
- The Hellenization of Rome was, of course, the most important cultural conquest that the Hellenes ever achieved at any stage of their history.
- On this showing, the nature of the breakdowns of civilizations can be summed up in three points: a failure of creative power in the minority, an answering withdrawal of mimesis on the part of the majority, and a consequent loss of social unity in the society as a whole.
- Vol. 4 (1948), part B, p. 6.
Attributed to Toynbee
- The coming of Buddhism to the West may well prove to be the most important event of the Twentieth Century.
- Toynbee predicted: "At the close of this century, the world would be dominated by the West, but that in the 21st century 'India will conquer her conquerors.'"
- Swami Prabhavananda, The Spiritual Heritage of India: A Clear Summary of Indian Philosophy and Religion (1979).