5. Toynbee: Challenge and Response

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Toynbee by Caroline Ramirez

The definition of the Toynbee Theory, given by Manual 12 and created by Arnold J. Toynbee, is that all civilizations are faced with crises, which are either of ideas or of technology. If the new concept enters American culture, people can either get used to it or dismiss the idea altogether. How the people react to the new concept will determine if it will exist. This also applies to technology. Arnold Toynbee was a man who was very curious about the rise and fall of civilizations. In his Study of history, he describes the reasons of why 23 civilizations collapsed and rose. He points out that if there is no challenge, there is no way that the body of people can grow culturally but, if the challenge is too hard there is no way the civilization can develop or grow. An example are the ancient Greeks. They always were facing harsh challenges because of where they were located (between Europe, Asia, Africa). How they responded led them to the rise of the Hellenic civilization In the Study of History, Arnold J. Toynbee writes, "We have now reached a point at which we can bring our present argument to a head. We have ascertained that civilizations come to birth in environments that are unusually difficult and not unusually easy, and this has led us on to inquire whether or not this is an instance of some social law which may be expressed in the formula: 'the greater the challenge, the greater the stimulus'."


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Information Sources: Arnold Toynbee Study of History [1] Arnold J. Toynbee the Challenge Hypothesis [2] A Study of History - Arnold J. Toynbee [3] Manual- Page 12.

Picture Source: [4]

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