The World as Idea

REVIEWS, 1 Nov 2021

Routledge – TRANSCEND Media Service

The World as Idea: A Conceptual History, by Charles P. Webel, 1 Nov 2021, Routledge, 336 pp.

In The World as Idea Charles P. Webel presents an intellectual history of one of the most influential concepts known to humanity–that of “the world”.

Webel traces the development of “the world” through the past, depicting the history of the world as an intellectual construct from its roots in ancient creation myths of the cosmos, to contemporary speculations about multiverses. He simultaneously offers probing analyses and critiques of “the world as idea” from thinkers ranging from Plato, Aristotle, and St. Augustine in the Greco-Roman period to Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida in modern times. While Webel mainly focuses on Occidental philosophical, theological, and cosmological notions of worldhood and worldliness, he also highlights important non-Western equivalents prominent in Islamic and Asian spiritual traditions. This ensures the book is a unique overview of what we all take for granted in our daily existence, but seldom if ever contemplate–the world as the uniquely meaningful environment for our lives in particular and for life on Earth in general.

The World as Idea will be of great interest to those interested in the “world as idea”, scholars in fields ranging from philosophy and intellectual history to political and social theory, and students studying philosophy, the history of ideas, and humanities courses, both general and specialized.

Table of Contents:


  1. The World and its History
  2. From the Existence of the World to Our Existence in This World
  3. Existential and Phenomenological Worlds
  4. Talking about the World

A Conclusion without an End, or an End without a Conclusion?


Charles Webel, Ph.D. is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development, Environment. He is currently a Professor and Guarantor of the School of International Relations at the University of New York in Prague. A five-time Fulbright Scholar and a research graduate of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, he has studied and taught at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his Ph.D. He is the author or editor of many books, including Peace and Conflict Studies (with David Barash) the standard text in the field, The Politics of Rationality, and Terror, Terrorism, and the Human Condition.

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