Arnold Toynbee on the Process of Civilizational Transition

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Excerpt from The Study of History.

From the reading notes of Michel Bauwens, 2023:

Contra Spengler, Toynbee affirms:

- "Growths of civilizations are not predestined to any uniform duration

- We have failed to find any reason, a priori, why a civilization should not go on growing indefinitely

- Breakdowns overtake them at widely different ages." (p. 367)


"Differences between growing civilizations are extensive and profound. >< Disintegration tends to conform, in all cases, to a standard pattern:

1. a horizontal schism splitting society into three fractions 2. the creation, be each of these fractions, of a characteristic institution." (p. 368)

(i.e. "universal state, universal church, and barbarian warbands)


These institutions are something more than products of the disintegration process .. In particular, 'universal churches' (may be) .. representative of another species of society, which is at least as distinct from the sphere of 'civilizations', as the latter are distinct from 'primitive societies'." (p. 368)