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Choose Life: A Dialogue
with Arnold J. Toynbee

Choose Life
Pub. Year

2007 (new publication)

Publisher

I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd

ISBN

978-1-84511-595-1

  Choose Life: A Dialogue (Published by Oxford University Press, 1976)

For over two years, historian Arnold J. Toynbee and religious leader Daisaku Ikeda exchanged views on a wide range of topics, probing for answers to the urgent as well as the perennial questions that confront humanity’s existence. From the personal to the international and the political to the philosophical, every sphere of human nature and interaction was vigorously discussed by these two men, who, though of different cultures and traditions, shared the same commitment to the value of human life and the biosphere that sustains it.

While their exchanges occurred in London in the 1970s, the insights they offer are timeless and relevant, providing both a panorama and a vital framework for understanding the choices and interlinked issues facing humanity in the 21st century.

Toynbee, raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and Ikeda, a product of East Asian culture and a Buddhist, agree on the dilemma facing the individual and society: self-mastery or self-destruction. This challenge underlies humanity’s task in responding to the many global concerns we face, which include population growth, dwindling natural resources, armed conflict and life with technology.

The exchanges culminate in an examination of the spiritual life of the human being—the sphere from which meaning and a sense of value derive—and the role it plays in the directionality of all human endeavors. If planetary existence is threatened by our capacity for destruction, then constructive change must be the effective counterbalance.

"Changes of institutions,” Toynbee and Ikeda agree, “are effective only insofar as they are symptoms and consequences of the spiritual self-transformation of the persons whose relations with each other are the network that constitutes human society."

Edited by Richard L. Gage, Choose Life contributes to the ongoing debate on the sustainability of modern civilization.

While the Oxford University Press edition of Choose Life has been discontinued, U.K. publisher I.B. Tauris re-issued the work in late-2007 as part of a 12-volume series-to be released over a three-year period-of some 50 dialogues that Ikeda has published with international leaders and scholars on subjects ranging from religion, politics, economics, science and the arts. In addition to the Japanese and English editions, Choose Life has been translated into numerous other languages.


CONTENTS

Preface

I PERSONAL AND SOCIAL LIFE

  1. THE BASIC HUMAN BEING
  2. Some of Our Animal Aspects
    Heredity and Environment
    Mind and Body
    The Subconscious
    Reason and Intuition

  3. THE ENVIRONMENT
  4. Oneness of Man and Nature
    Natural and Man-made Disasters
    Urban Problems
    Returning to Rural Areas
    Imminent Doom
    Ending Environmental Pollution

  5. THE INTELLECT
  6. Education
    Literature’s Influence
    Intellectuals and the Masses
    Intellectual and Artistic Involvement
    Limits of the Scientific Intellect

  7. HEALTH AND WELFARE
  8. Practitioners of the Healing Art
    Organ Transplantation
    Medical Treatment: Scientific and Total
    Assisting the Aged
    GNP or Gross National Welfare
    The Profession of Motherhood
    Breeding to the Limit

  9. MAN AS THE SOCIAL ANIMAL
  10. The Labor Movement
    Leisure and Its Uses
    Sense of Value in Social Organization
    Allegiance to Organizations
    The Establishment and the Generation Gap
    Neutrality of the Mass Media
    Restrictions on Freedom of the Press
    Abolition of the Death Penalty
    Suicide and Euthanasia


II POLITICAL AND INTERNATIONAL LIFE

  1. THE SECOND HALF OF THIS CENTURY
  2. The United States
    The Space Exploration Race
    Japan and Britain
    No Candidate for King
    Demise of the Local State
    Countries Susceptible to Communism
    World-embracing Patriotism

  3. ARMS AND WAR
  4. Economic Growth and War
    Peaceful Utilization of Atomic Power
    Proxy Wars and Asia
    Self-defense and the Japanese Constitution
    Future Police Forces
    The Nature and Future of War

  5. CHOOSING A POLITICAL SYSTEM
  6. Qualities of a Good Leader
    Safeguards against Fascism
    The Nature, Means, and Ends of Power
    Democracy or Dictatorship
    Democracy or Meritocracy

  7. ONE WORLD
  8. International Currency
    East Asia’s Role
    Japan’s Contribution to the Future
    From Bipolarity to Multipolarity
    World Unification


III PHILOSOPHICAL AND RELIGIOUS LIFE

  1. THE NATURE OF THINGS
  2. Origin of Life
    The Question of Eternal Life
    The Universe
    Intelligent Beings on Other Planets
    Beyond Waves and Subatomic Particles
    Religious Approaches to Ultimate Reality
    The Buddhist Approach

  3. ROLES RELIGION PLAYS
  4. Religion as the Source of Vitality
    Three Western Religions
    Returning to Pantheism

  5. GOOD AND EVIL
  6. The Mixture of Good and Evil
    Dealing with Desires
    The Meaning of Fate
    Defining True Progress
    Love and Conscience
    Compassion as Practicable Love
    Expanding the Sphere of Love
    The Highest Human Value

INDEX



REVIEWS

“Roaming across a vast field…an often engrossing tapestry of fact and opinion.”
The New York Times Book Review

“To obtain such a highly erudite cross section of Western and Eastern views on so wide a variety of social, philosophical, religious and political problems is a rare and rewarding literary treat.”
The Natal Mercury (Durban, South Africa)

“In other books, lectures and articles…Ikeda has advocated a world food bank, cutbacks in defense expenditures, and nuclear disarmament. His most consuming passion is the creation of an international people-to-people crusade against war.”
TIME Magazine

“Daisaku Ikeda is a muscular Buddhist, and administrator who tackles the problem of world peace with all the industry, optimism and persistence of a successful businessman… He is the head of Soka Gakkai, a Buddhist lay organization which believes in improving man’s lot now, not in some misty afterlife.”
—John Roderick, AP