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Arnold J. Toynbee

Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889 - 1975), British historian whose ten-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934 - 1961, (also known as History of the World) is "acknowledged as one of the greatest achievements of modern scholarship." [1]

Toynbee, a prolific author, was the nephew of a great economic historian, Arnold Toynbee, with whom he is sometimes confused. Born in London, Arnold J was educated at Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford. He worked for the Foreign Office during both World War I and World War II. He was Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (1925-1955) and Research Professor of International History at the University of London.

The theory elaborated in A Study of History was of challenge-response as applied to a civilization, taken as unit. It has not perhaps proved of great influence on other historians; it certainly was taken up, for example by Curtius, as a sort of paradigm in the post-war period. The ideas he promoted had some vogue (he appeared on the Cover of Time magazine in 1947). Toynbee was probably most influential in relation to Asian thinkers. A few of his terms, such as successor state, and to a lesser extent external proletariat, are found in other authors.

It is assumed that Arnold J is the Toynbee referred to on the Toynbee tiles. His ideas also features in the Ray Bradbury short story named The Toynbee Convector.