A World Of Ideas: A Dictionary Of Important Theories, Concepts, Beliefs, And Thinkers by Chris RohmannA World Of Ideas: A Dictionary Of Important Theories, Concepts, Beliefs, And Thinkers by Chris Rohmann

A World Of Ideas: A Dictionary Of Important Theories, Concepts, Beliefs, And Thinkers

byChris Rohmann

Paperback | October 31, 2000

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With A World of Ideas, you can get to the bottom of the big bang theory; find out where Freud's ideas were coming from, and where Einstein's might take us; demystify surrealism and structuralism, communism and capitalism. Prepared with the assistance of an academic board of leading scholars, this invaluable reference includes

- Hundreds of entries, alphabetically arranged, with key words and concepts highlighted and cross-referenced--more than two thousand in all
- A special emphasis on multicultural influences and contemporary thought
- A comprehensive index giving easy access to all essential terms and names

A World of Ideas is an indispensable resource for the curious reader.
Chris Rohmann is the former editor and project manager for The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts.  He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.From the Hardcover edition.
Title:A World Of Ideas: A Dictionary Of Important Theories, Concepts, Beliefs, And ThinkersFormat:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 9.3 × 6.1 × 1 inPublished:October 31, 2000Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345437063

ISBN - 13:9780345437068

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Read from the Book

It all began with dialectical materialism. I was aware of the term, had seen orheard it used a hundred times. But one day, finding it mentioned in a magazinearticle, I realized I had no idea exactly what it is and couldn't accuratelydefine it. The brief dictionary definition didn't help much, and it didn't appear at all in my desk encyclopedia.It occurred to me that lots of other concepts, old and new, were vaguelyfamiliar but elusive: ideas I'd heard of or learned something about in schoolbut now had a faded impression of, at best.Wouldn't it be great to have a dictionary of ideas, I thought--not thingsor events, but those intangibles that fuel our thoughts: theories, philosophies,beliefs, ideologies, and the thinkers who have articulated them. That set meon a search through bookstores and libraries for the volume I had in mind: acompact, alphabetical guide to significant ideas and thinkers, with entrieslong enough to enlighten but short enough to digest, covering all fields ofthought and written in ordinary English.I couldn't find it, so I wrote it.The book you are holding represents the fruits of what I now think of asmy second college education, one pursued outside a formal institution (butwith the crucial assistance of numerous scholars) and which took as long asthe first one. My ambition was not only to get a grasp on a world's worth ofconcepts but to explain them in terms that I, a nonacademic, and others likeme could understand. It was a daunting but exhilarating challenge.Ideas, I appreciated anew, are the foundations of our culture. They inspireour thoughts and inform our beliefs. Many of them form the very basis of ouridentity. Some, such as those from non-Western traditions, are only now entering our awareness as our society becomes more genuinely multicultural. While the ideas of the past have shaped the social, political, and religious institutions of today's world, new concepts continually challenge our perceptions, fuel debate, and pave our way to the future.The topics of A World of Ideas' 444 entries were chosen in consultation with a number of respected scholars in the various fields covered. The process, of course, was one of exclusion as much as selection from a nearlylimitless field of possibility. In making our decisions on which ideas andthinkers to include in this relatively small volume, we were guided by twomain criteria: their influence on human thought and their continuing relevancein today's discourse. The fields of knowledge gathered here include philosophy, psychology, politics, history, economics, sociology, religion, science, and the arts. Entries on ideas in these areas define them and briefly explain their history, implications, and wider significance. The 111 profiles of major thinkers provide outlines of their most influential ideas rather than purely biographical sketches.Hundreds of additional, related ideas and thinkers are discussed in the textand referenced in the Index. What is an "idea" in this book? Theoretically, the term could cover everything from a philosophical argument to a nifty new invention. I've left gadgets and other "bright ideas" out of A World of Ideas, while keeping my definition of an idea as broad as possible: a theoretical construct, a belief or guiding tenet, an essential concept in a field of study, an ideological proposition, an influential thought or opinion. I'm personally attracted to the theoretical and propositional--debatable, questionable, or unprovable notions--but not exclusively. Primarily descriptive terms are excluded, but general concepts, fields of theory, schools of thought, and similar broad categories are covered here.A note about some of the things you will and won't find in this book. Youwill find that a majority of the entries reflect European culture, the Greekphilosophical tradition, Judeo-Christian religion, etc. This simply acknowledges the way things are: despite a growing awareness of other cultures and traditions, the ideas that are our cultural currency are still predominantly those of "Western civilization."Yet this book also reflects recent changes in our world-views. Where theyhave wide relevance, concepts and beliefs from Asian, African, and MiddleEastern traditions are included. You will also find more women and nonwhitethinkers than many works of this sort recognize--people whose contributions(and even access) to the history of ideas have for too long been neglected.You will also find a somewhat greater emphasis on contemporary thoughtthan might be expected in a broad survey of ideas. This is largely becausemodern theorists and their ideas are among those most currently discussedand most likely to be overlooked in other reference works. While the classicideas and figures in A World of Ideas have had a decisive influence on modern thought, the newer concepts and contemporary thinkers will shape the future.Although I have tried to be scrupulous about using gender-neutral terminology ("he or she," "humanity") when referring to people in general, andavoiding the discredited sexist convention of the generic masculine ("man-kind," "he"), you will find exceptions. These are in cases when to imply the feminine would misrepresent a thinker's outlook, because women have been(and are) so often excluded from consideration. When Jefferson, for example,wrote that "all men are created equal," he was talking about men. The sameconsideration applies to almost all references to the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who is traditionally conceived as male. You will not find main entries on any primarily literary figures or artists; no Shakespeare or Goethe, Michelangelo or Picasso (though all of these geniuses appear at least briefly in the book). This restriction was forced by the limited space between these covers, and I hope to be able to include these thinker-artists in a later edition. For the same reason, you will probably not find every idea that might be of interest to you; the world of ideas is as expansive as the world itself. However, I believe you will discover here an intriguing and useful array of concepts and consequential thinkers. And, yes, you will find dialectical materialism.

From Our Editors

We are bombarded with information. There is too much to know and not enough time. Now you can keep up and catch up. Chris Rohmann introduces all the thinkers, thoughts and theories we need to know to understand our world. The Dictionary of Important Ideas and Thinkers offers detailed analysis, interpretation and keen insights into the core concepts, influential minds and major intellectual movements throughout history. From the big bang theory to Freud’s dream interpretation, from communism to capitalism, Darwinism to feminism, this volume explains it all in alphabetical order, with more than 40,000 key words and concepts highlighted and cross-referenced.