The Full Wiki

Arnold Toynbee: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This page is about the economic historian Arnold Toynbee; for his nephew, the universal historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee, see Arnold J. Toynbee.
Arnold Toynbee

Arnold Toynbee
Born 23 August 1852(1852-08-23)
Savile Row, London, England
Died 9 March 1883 (aged 30)
Wimbledon, London, England
Nationality Great Britain
Fields Economic history
Alma mater University of Oxford

Arnold Toynbee (23 August 1852 – 9 March 1883) was an English economic historian also noted for his social commitment and desire to improve the living conditions of the working classes.[1]



Toynbee was born in London as the son of the physician Joseph Toynbee, a pioneering otolaryngologist in his time; the more famous universal historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-1975), with whom he is often confused, was his nephew.

The Toynbees have been prominent in British intellectual society for several generations:

Joseph Toynbee
Pioneering otolaryngologist
Harriet Holmes
Arnold Toynbee
Economic historian
Harry Valpy Toynbee
Gilbert Murray
Classicist and public intellectual
Lady Mary Howard
Arnold J. Toynbee
Universal historian
Rosalind Murray
Antony Harry Toynbee
Philip Toynbee
Writer and journalist
Anne Powell
Lawrence Toynbee
b. 1922
Josephine Toynbee
Polly Toynbee

Toynbee attended public schools in Blackheath and Woolwich. In 1873 he began to study political economy at Oxford University, first at Pembroke College and from 1875 at Balliol College, where he went on to teach after his graduation in 1878. His lectures on the history of the Industrial Revolution in 18th and 19th century Britain proved widely influential; in fact, Toynbee coined,[2] or at least effectively popularised, the term "Industrial Revolution" in the Anglophone world—in Germany and elsewhere it had been brought into circulation earlier by Friedrich Engels, also under the impression of the industrial changes in Britain. Toynbee died at age 30 in 1883. His health had rapidly deteriorated, probably due to exhaustion by excessive work. He married Charlotte Atwood, who was 12 years his senior, and a cousin of Harold F. Davidson, the famous rector of Stiffkey.


According to Arnold Toynbee, applying the historical method in economics would reveal how supposedly universal economic laws were in fact relative. For example, he argued that, in spite of commonly held beliefs, free trade was not generally advantageous in itself, but only under certain circumstances which should not be considered absolute. Toynbee considered few laws as universally true, such as the law of diminishing returns. Therefore, there were no universal rules as to how strongly the state should interfere in the marketplace, either; depending on the situation, different degrees of regulation could be appropriate.

Another idea Toynbee dismissed was to consider free competition as universally beneficial to economic and societal progress, especially as reflected in its apotheosis in Social Darwinism, which promotes laissez-faire capitalism. Toynbee did not equate "a struggle for mere existence and a struggle for a particular kind of existence." From the very beginning of history, he argues, all human civilization was essentially designed to "interfere with this brute struggle. We intend to modify the violence of the fight, and to prevent the weak being trampled under foot."[3] Although economic competition does have its advantages, being the driving force behind technical progress, these were "gained at the expense of an enormous waste of human life and labour, which might be avoided by regulation." Toynbee suggests a differentiation between competition in production on the one hand, and competition in the distribution of goods on the other:

[...] the struggle of men to outvie one another in production is beneficial to the community; their struggle over the division of the joint produce is not. The stronger side will dictate its own terms; and as a matter of fact, in the early days of competition the capitalists used all their power to oppress the labourers, and drove down wages to starvation point. This kind of competition has to be checked; there is no historical instance of its having lasted long without being modified either by combination or legislation, or both. In England both remedies are in operation, the former through Trades Unions, the latter through factory legislation.[4]

In itself, a market based on competition was neither good nor bad, but like "a stream whose strength and direction have to be observed, that embankments may be thrown up within which it may do its work harmlessly and beneficially". However, in the early phase of industrial capitalism "it came to be believed in as a gospel, [...] from which it was regarded as little short of immoral to depart".

Social commitment

For Toynbee, early industrial capitalism and the situation of the working class in it was not only a subject of ivory-tower studies; he was actively involved in improving the living conditions of the proletariat. He read for workers in large industrial centres and encouraged the creation of trade unions and co-operatives. A focal point of his commitment was the slum of Whitechapel in East London, where he helped to establish public libraries for the working class population. Toynbee also encouraged his students to offer free courses for working class audiences in their own neighbourhoods.

Inspired by Arnold Toynbee's ideas, Samuel Augustus Barnett and Henrietta Barnett founded the first university settlement, which was named Toynbee Hall in his honour, in 1884, shortly after his death. A centre for social reform, Toynbee Hall was on Commercial Street, Whitechapel in the East End of London. It remains active today. The concept was to bring upper and middle class students into lower class neighbourhoods, not only to provide education and social aid, but to actually live and work together with their inhabitants. This soon inspired a worldwide movement of university settlements. The idea was to help members of the future elite understand the problems of British society; this was especially important at a time when class divisions were much stronger, social mobility was minimal, and the living conditions of the poor were completely unknown to many members of the upper class. Toynbee Hall attracted many students, especially from Wadham College and Balliol College where Toynbee had taught.

In 1916 the Arnold Toynbee House in New York was founded by a group of young adults who were part of the Stevenson Club at Madison House and with the help of philanthropist Rose Gruening. Eight years later, the settlement house was renamed Grand Street Settlement.



See also

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Arnold Toynbee (August 23, 1852March 9, 1883) British historian; Uncle of Arnold J. Toynbee

Lectures on The Industrial Revolution in England (1884)

  • Economists, firstly, regard only one part of man's nature, and treat him simply as a money-making animal; secondly, they disregard the influence of custom, and only take account of competition. Certain laws are laid down under these assumptions; as, for instance, that the rate of wages always tends to an equality, the permanent difference obtaining in various employments being only sufficient to balance the favourable or unfavourable circumstances attending each of them— a law which is only true after a certain stage of civilisation and in so far as the acquisition of wealth is the sole object of men.
  • The right method in any particular case must be largely determined by the nature of the problem.
  • The proper limits of Government interference are relative to the nature of each particular state and the stage of its civilisation. It is a matter of great importance at the present day for us to discover what these limits are in our own case, for administration bids fair to claim a large share of our attention in the future.
  • It would be well if, in studying the past, we could always bear in mind the problems of the present, and go to that past to seek large views of what is of lasting importance to the human race.
  • Party historians go to the past for party purposes; they seek to read into the past the controversies of the present.
  • You must pursue facts for their own sake, but penetrated with a vivid sense of the problems of your own time. This is not a principle of perversion, but a principle of selection. You must have some principle of selection, and you could not have a better one than to pay special attention to the history of the social problems which are agitating the world now, for you may be sure that they are problems not of temporary but of lasting importance.
  • It is a great law of social development that the movement from slavery to freedom is also a movement from security to insecurity of maintenance.
  • We must expect for a long time yet to see capitalists still striving to obtain the highest possible profits. But observe, that the passion for wealth is certainly in some senses new. It grew up very rapidly at the beginning of the present century; it was not so strong in the last century, when men were much more content to lead a quiet easy life of leisure. The change has really influenced the relations between men; but in the future it is quite possible that the scramble for wealth may grow less intense, and a change in the opposite direction take place.
  • The Comtists are right when they say that men's moral ideas are not fixed. The attitude of public opinion towards slavery was completely changed in twenty or thirty years. Still I am obliged to believe that such a moral revolution as the Comtists hope for is not possible within a reasonable space of time.
  • There remains the ordinary Communist solution. This has taken various forms; the simplest being a voluntary association of individuals based on the principle of common property, and in which every person works for the community according to fixed rules. There are many successful instances of this, on a small scale, in the United States, but we cannot suppose such a solution to be possible for society as a whole. It has only been tried with picked materials, whereas our object is rather to improve the great mass of the population. The Communism of recent European theorists, of whom the best known is Lassalle, presents a somewhat different aspect. It aims at the appropriation of all instruments of production by the State, which is to take charge of the whole national industry and direct it. But the practical difficulty of such a scheme is obviously overwhelming. The objections to a Communistic solution do not apply to Socialism in a more modified shape. Historically speaking, Socialism has already shown itself in England in the extension of State interference. It has produced the Factory Laws, and it is now beginning to advance further and interfere directly in the division of produce between the workmen and their employers
  • We must remember that the real problem is not how to produce some improvement in the condition of the working man— for that has to a certain extent been attained already— but how to secure his complete material independence.
  • It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ARNOLD TOYNBEE (1852-1883), English social reformer and economist, second son of Joseph Toynbee (1815-1866), a distinguished surgeon, was born in London on the 23rd of August 185 2. He had originally intended to enter the army, but ill health and a growing love of books changed his plans, and he settled down to read for the bar. Here again the same causes produced a change of purpose, and he entered as a student at Pembroke College, Oxford. Finding himself by no means at ease in that college he migrated after two years to Balliol College. Continued ill health prevented his reading for honours, but he made so deep an impression on the authorities of his college that on taking his degree he was appointed lecturer and tutor to students preparing for the Indian civil service. He devoted himself to the study of economics and economic history. He was active also as a practical social reformer, taking part in much public work and delivering lectures in the large industrial centres on economic problems. He overtaxed his strength, and after lecturing in London in January 1883 he had a complete break-down, and died of inflammation of the brain at Wimbledon on the 9th of March.

Toynbee had a striking influence on his contemporaries, not merely through his intellectual powers, but by his strength of character. He left behind him a beautiful memory, filled as he was with the love of truth and an ardent and active zeal for the public good. He was the author of some fragmentary pieces, published after his death by his widow, under the title of The Industrial Revolution. This volume deserves attention both for its intrinsic merit and as indicating the first drift of a changing method in the treatment of economic problems. He, however, fluctuated considerably in his opinion of the Ricardian political economy, in one place declaring it to be a detected "intellectual imposture," whilst elsewhere, apparently under the influence of Bagehot, he speaks of it as having been in recent times "only corrected, re-stated, and put into the proper relation to the science of life," meaning apparently, by this last, general sociology. He saw that the great help in the future for the science of economics must come from the historical method, to which in his own researches he gave preponderant weight. Toynbee's interest in the poor and his anxiety to be personally acquainted with them led to his close association with the district of Whitechapel in London, where the Rev. Canon S. A. Barnett was at that time vicar - an association which was commemorated after his death by the social settlement of Toynbee Hall, the first of many similar institutions erected in the East End of London for the purpose of uplifting and brightening the lives of the poorer classes.

See F. C. Montague's Arnold Toynbee (Johns Hopkins University Studies, 1889); Lord Milner's Arnold Toynbee: a Reminiscence (1901); and L. L. Price's Short History of Political Economy in England for a criticism of Toynbee as an economist.

<< Toy

Trabeated >>


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address