Reading Toynbee A Study of History

A society is a group whose members have shared problems.

“There is no such thing as society” would be true if there were no shared problems, if each individual had only his or her own problems to worry about.

“There is no such thing as society” is clearly false, since there are a great number of problems that human beings currently share. Destruction of the planet through global warming is one of these problems.

Arnold J Toynbee thought that “Western Christendom” was a society, distinct from “Orthodox Christian”, “Islamic”, “Hindu” and “Far Eastern” societies. This is because they each had their own distinct set of problems to contend with.

But he saw that beyond the “cultural plane” of Western Christendom were also “economic” and “political” planes. These latter planes extend further that Western Society, to encompass just about the whole world –– so, existing on these planes, we belong to a global society beyond our local one. There are problems that we share with the whole of humanity. Today this is especially apparent, with the threats of global warming and nuclear extermination.

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