Choose life: a dialogue

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Oxford University Press, 1976 - History - 348 pages
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The Basic Human Being
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About the author (1976)

A native of Great Britain, Oxford-educated Arnold J. Toynbee was a prolific scholar who had a varied and interesting political and academic career. He served in the British foreign office during both world wars and was a delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Congress. From 1925 to 1955, he held the position of director of studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and was professor of history at the University of London during approximately the same time. Toynbee was always a controversial historian who made sweeping generalizations about history that were often criticized by other scholars. Of himself, he wrote:"What I am trying to do is explain to Western people that they are only a small minority of the world---the great world is Asia and Africa---outside the West." Among Toynbee's publications are East to West: A Journey round the World (1958), a collection of world portraits of contemporary affairs and conditions in ancient settings, and Between Oxus and Jumna (1961), an unsurpassed travel guide to a little-known, rugged area encompassing Afghanistan, western Pakistan, and northwest India. But his major work is without doubt his A Study of History (1934--1961), his investigation into the growth and decay of civilizations, which took him 40 years of steady labor. In this work Toynbee examines all of recorded history and concludes that each civilization is subject to a cycle of early struggle, growth, and then decline. Rather than revise all the volumes of this monumental work, he decided to correct errors and refute his critics, in the twelfth volume of the set, Reconsiderations (1961) At age 80, Toynbee was still going strong and continuing to work a seven-day week."I suppose that one day I might stop, and if I stopped I might suddenly crumple," he said. "It is very important to keep going.

Daisaku Ikeda was born in Tokyo, Japan on January 2, 1928 into a family of seaweed farmers. Ikeda is a prolific writer, environmentalist, peace activist, and follower of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, also considered "true Buddhism". He has written over 100 books on Buddhism. Ikeda was the president of Soka Gakkai, an organization supporting the practice of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, from 1960 to 1979 and currently maintains the position of Soka Gakkai Honorary President. Ikeda developed SGI (Soka Gakkai International) which is an international outreach program for Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. Many members of this organization refer to him as their "mentor in life". Ikeda has been influential world-wide. He holds over 230 honorary doctorates and over 550 honorary citizenships around the world. Ikeda also holds numerous memberships and has received many awards. Ikeda has founded many educational, peace and cultural institutions including Soka University (1971), Tokyo Fuji Art Museum (1983), and Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research (1996). Ikeda and his wife, Kaneko, married on May 3, 1952. They have three sons.