Recording by: WRUF
Title: Arnold J. Toynbee – “The Role of the Generalist”
Identification: Tape recording 146
File name: WRUF 6
Originally recorded on reel to reel tape at 7.5 ips
Digitally reformatted on February 2008
Byron S. Hollinshead comments about the University College lecture series and introduces Dr. Harry Philpott, Vice President of the University of Florida, who will introduce the speaker. Dr. Philpott comments on the great impact on the intellectual life of the world that the 10 volumes of A Study of History by Arnold B. Toynbee has had.
Arnold B. Toynbee first says he wants to add to the title of his talk which now will be “The Role of the Generalist in the new world into which we are now moving”. Since World War II many U.S. citizens are now working abroad and that they now need to know much more than their parents or grandparents knew. The configuration of the world has changed. In early history there were self contained groups which led life independently and often knew nothing about the existence of other groups of people. He states that all this has changed and that we are living in one and the same world. Even those groups still in a pre-civilization stage are rapidly being absorbed into the wider culture.
Toynbee states that ninety-nine percent of human history has so far been spent in a food gathering stage, one percent in the agricultural phase, and one-half of one percent in the civilization stage. He stresses the importance of remembering prehistory as knowledge of it is very important to our present day problems. Likewise it is important to have a general view of the universe. Specialization is important but one needs to acquire a general knowledge of science and the humanities.
A question and answer period follows his talk. The questions are related to his lecture. The last questioner asks if it is better for those abroad to be generalists. Toynbee suggests that it is and that one needs to have some knowledge about the people of the country where one is in order to better understand their state of mind. He mentions Vietnam and that everyone he has spoken with in America gives the American point of view but there is no discussion about how it would be viewed from the perspective of a Vietnamese person. He finally says that ordinary American citizens have to know a lot about the whole world. He ends with, “this is something quite new in American experience”.