A Study of History

By Arnold J. Toynbee; D. C. Somervell | Go to book overview

III
THE GROWTHS OF CIVILIZATIONS

IX. THE ARRESTED CIVILIZATIONS

(1) POLYNESIANS, ESKIMOS AND NOMADS

IN the preceding part of this Study we have been wrestling with the admittedly difficult question of how civilizations come into existence, but the problem now before us might be thought to be too easy to deserve consideration as a problem at all. Once a civilization is born, and provided that it is not nipped in the bud, as has been the fate of what we have called abortive civilizations, may not its growth be expected as a matter of course? The best way to find an answer to this question is to ask another one: Do we find, as a matter of historical fact, that civilizations which have surmounted the successive perils of birth and of infancy do in fact invariably grow to 'manhood'—in other words, do they invariably proceed in due course to achieve a control over their environment and way of life which justifies us in including them in the list compiled in the second chapter of this book? The answer is that some do not. In addition to the two classes already noticed, developed civilizations and abortive civilizations, there is a third, which we must call arrested civilizations. It is the existence of civilizations which have kept alive but failed to grow that compels us to study the problem of growth; and our first step will be to collect and study the available specimens of civilizations of this category.

We can readily lay hands on half-a-dozen specimens. Among the civilizations that have come to birth in response to physical challenges there are the Polynesians, the Eskimos and the Nomads, and among civilizations that have arisen in response to human challenges there are certain peculiar communities, like the 'Osmanlis in the Orthodox Christian World and the Spartans in the Hellenic World, which have been called into existence by local accentuations of the prevalent human challenges when these have been keyed up, through peculiar circumstances, to pitches of unusual severity. These are all examples of arrested civilizations, and we can see at once that they all present a picture of the same general predicament.

All these arrested civilizations have been immobilized in consequence of having achieved a tour de force. They are responses to challenges of an order of severity on the very borderline be

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A Study of History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • A Study of History *
  • Plan of the Book *
  • Preface *
  • Note by the Editor of the Abridgement *
  • Table of Contents *
  • I- Introduction *
  • I. the Unit of Historical Study *
  • Ii. the Comparative Study of Civilizations *
  • Iii. the Comparability of Societies *
  • II- The Geneses of Civilizations *
  • Iv. the Problem and How Not to Solve It *
  • V. Challenge and Response *
  • Vi. the Virtues of Adversity *
  • Vii. the Challenge of the Environment *
  • Viii. the Golden Mean *
  • III- The Growths of Civilizations *
  • Ix. the Arrested Civilizations *
  • X. the Nature of the Growths of Civilizations *
  • Xi. an Analysis of Growth *
  • Xii. Differentiation through Growth *
  • IV- The Breakdowns of Civilizations *
  • Xiii. the Nature of the Problem *
  • Xiv. Deterministic Solutions *
  • Xv. Loss of Command over the Environment *
  • Xvi. Failure of Self-Determination *
  • V- The Disintegrations of Civilizations *
  • Xvii. the Nature of Disintegration *
  • Xviii. Schism in the Body Social *
  • Xix. Schism in the Soul *
  • Xx. the Relation between Disintegrating Societies and Individuals *
  • Xxi. the Rhythm of Disintegration *
  • Xxii. Standardization through Disintegration *
  • Editor''s Note *
  • Argument *
  • Index *
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