Arnold J. Toynbee

Toynbee, Arnold Joseph

Arnold Joseph Toynbee, 1889–1975, English historian; nephew of Arnold Toynbee. Educated at Oxford, he served in the British foreign office during World Wars I and II and was a delegate (1919) to the Paris Peace Conference. He was professor of Greek language and history (1919–55) at the Univ. of London and director of studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (1925–55). A prolific scholar, Toynbee achieved his greatest fame for his monumental work, A Study of History (12 vol., 1934–61), which appeared in an abridgment by D. C. Somervell (2 vol., 1946–57). In the Study of History, an investigation into the growth, development, and decay of civilizations, the problems of history are considered in terms of cultural groups rather than nationalities. The main thesis of the work is that the well-being of a civilization depends on its ability to respond successfully to challenges, human and environmental. Of the 26 civilizations studied, according to Toynbee, only one—Western Latin Christendom—is currently alive, and perhaps even this in decline. He has been criticized for arbitrary generalizations, factual errors, and overemphasizing the regenerative force of religion. Toynbee helped to write and edit A Survey of International Affairs and produced works on a multitude of historical topics.

See the biography by W. H. McNeill (1989); study by K. Thompson (1985).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Arnold J. Toynbee: Selected full-text books and articles

Toynbee and History: Critical Essays and Reviews By M. F. Ashley Montagu Porter Sargent, 1956
A Study of History By Arnold J. Toynbee; D. C. Somervell Oxford University Press, 1947
The Pattern of the Past: Can We Determine It? By Pieter Geyl; Arnold J. Toynbee; Pitirim A. Sorokin Beacon Press, 1949
Librarian’s tip: "Toynbee's System of Civilizations" begins on p. 3, "Can We Know the Pattern of the Past?: Discussion between Pieter Geyl and Arnold J. Toynbee" begins on p. 73, and "Toynbee's Philosophy of History" begins on p. 95
The Dynamics of World History By Christopher Dawson; John J. Mulloy Sheed and Ward, 1956
Librarian’s tip: "Arnold Toynbee and the Study of History" begins on p. 390
The Riddle of History: The Great Speculators from Vico to Freud By Bruce Mazlish Minerva Press, 1968
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Toynbee"
Christianity and the Problem of History By Roger Lincoln Shinn Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VIII "Toynbee's Modern Synthesis"
Thinkers of the Twenty Years' Crisis: Inter-War Idealism Reassessed By David Long; Peter Wilson Clarendon Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Arnold Toynbee, Chatham House, and Research in a Global Context"
The Revival of Realism: Critical Studies in Contemporary Philosophy By James Feibleman University of North Carolina Press, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "Toynbee's Theory of History"
From Shakespeare to Existentialism: Studies in Poetry, Religion, and Philosophy By Walter Kaufmann Beacon Press, 1959
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 19 "Toynbee and Super-History" and Chap. 20 "Toynbee and Religion"
Peaceful Change: An International Problem By C. K. Webster; Lucy P. Mair; Arnold J. Toynbee; Karl Mannheim; L. C. Robbins; H. Lauterpacht; T. E. Gregory; C. A. W. Manning Macmillan, 1937
Librarian’s tip: "The Lessons of History" by Arnold J. Toynbee begins on p. 25
The Conduct of British Empire Foreign Relations since the Peace Settlement By Arnold J. Toynbee; Royal Institute of International Affairs Oxford University Press, 1928
The Belgian Deportations By Arnold J. Toynbee T.F. Unwin Ltd., 1917
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