Toynbee’s theory of decay

Toynbee’s theory of decay
by Patrick DeCarlo 

He argues that as civilizations decay, there is a “schism in the body social,” whereby:

  • abandon and self-control together replace creativity, and
  • truancy and martyrdom together replace discipleship by the creative minority.

He argues that in this environment, people resort to      archaism (idealization of the past), futurism (idealization of the future), detachment (removal of oneself from the realities of a decaying world), and transcendence (meeting the challenges of the decaying civilization with new insight, as a Prophet). He argues that those who Transcend during a period of social decay give birth to a new Church with new and stronger spiritual insights, around which a subsequent civilization may begin to form after the old has died.

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