Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Committee or Advisor Chair

Theodore M. Greene

Committee Members

Dr. Lawrence E. Nelson


history, philosophy, Arnold J. Toynbee, etherialization, progress, humanity


History | Philosophy | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Few ideals characterize the spirit of the West as does the ideal of progress. Indeed, so closely allied to the rise of the West has been the ideal of progress that doubts about it cast a shadow on the destiny of the West itself.

These doubts have arisen. No longer does belief in progress command the prestige it once enjoyed. The assurance that "civilization has moved, is moving, and will continue to move in a desirable direction" is essentially bankrupt. In the eyes of the British historian, Arnold J. Toynbee, it is a "fallaciously comfortable doctrine," a facile belief "that Western Society could see ahead of it an unbroken vista of progress toward an Earthly Paradise." One need only note the sober observation of the American sociologist Edward A. Ross who wrote at the end of World War II that,

"the rosy doctrine in great favor a generation ago that man's social progress is inevitable because brought about by impersonal forces working in his interest, will go into discard."