The Rise and Fall of Civilization: An Inquiry into the Relationship between Economic Development and Civilization

The Rise and Fall of Civilization: An Inquiry into the Relationship between Economic Development and Civilization

The Rise and Fall of Civilization: An Inquiry into the Relationship between Economic Development and Civilization

The Rise and Fall of Civilization: An Inquiry into the Relationship between Economic Development and Civilization

Excerpt

To explain the rise and fall of civilization in several cultures, as I have attempted to do in the pages of this book, is a formidable task, and in retrospect I wonder that I ever had the courage to undertake it. I believed, however, that I could clarify what in Western Europe and America is meant by civilization, that I could throw light upon the major factors in the rises and falls of civilization, and that I might discover some pattern in these fluctuations. I felt that the Western world was anxiously groping for a fuller comprehension of these issues but that this understanding could not be obtained, at least not by the general public, from existing literature. Indeed some of this literature, particularly the work of Arnold J. Toynbee, seemed to me to obscure human experience rather than to make it clear.

In my study I have not attempted to present a great mass of evidence but have rather introduced evidence in an abbreviated form in the hope that the reader may actually be able to grasp its significance relative to the subject being investigated. Such condensation is extremely difficult to accomplish without doing injustice to the data or without arousing the suspicions of specialists. I have striven always to avoid distortion and have had the assistance of experts, notably that of McGregor Gray, for those parts of the study for which I could claim no special competence.

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