Toynbee, Arnold J. (Joseph) (1889–1975), a British historian and philosopher of history. In his monumental A Study of History (12 volumes, 1934–61), Toynbee analyzed the causes of the rise and fall of civilizations. His thesis was that each civilization follows a cycle of growth, maturity, and decay, and that the amount of progress and the rate of decline are determined by how well a civilization responds to human and environmental challenges. He held that only the application of Christian principles could prevent the collapse of Western civilization. Toynbee's theories have been both criticized and praised by other historians.
Toynbee was born in London and was named after his uncle, an economist and social reformer. He graduated from Oxford, and was a professor of history at the University of London, 1919–55. He also served as Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1925–55.
Among his other works are The Western Question in Greece and Turkey (1922); Civilization on Trial (1948); The World and the West (1953); An Historian's Approach to Religion (1956); and Surviving the Future (1972).