From chauvinism to chiliasm, from epicureanism to existentialism, and from nationalism to nominalism, we live in a wilderness of dogmas and doctrines, creeds and credos. But what in heaven's name do all these -isms mean? Just what was it that made heresies such as Arianism and Pelagianism so heretical? What's the difference between an anarchist and an anarcho-syndicalist, a Platonist and a Neo-Platonist? And how modern can Modernism really be if all the famous modernists are dead? Some everyday -isms - the likes of materialism, naturism and surrealism - present few problems. Others are more troublesome. There are some concepts (irredentism? ontology?) whose meanings - even when checked in a dictionary - somehow fail to adhere. And it gets tougher. In the darkest depths of the forest of ideas lurk -isms which even the most cutting-edge of metropolitan intellectuals might struggle to define snappily. Muggletonianism, anyone? Henotheism - your starter for twenty, Hampstead! Help is now at hand in the small but perfectly formed shape of Isms and Ologies. To those who've been humiliated by a knowing reference to Wahhabism at an Islington dinner party, caught short by a casual allusion to Orphism at a Hoxton private view, or flummoxed by a smug mention of post-structuralism by a fellow member of a suburban book group, Isms and Ologies offers hope and enlightenment. Crackpot convictions, perplexing philosophies, tricky tenets, and wacky Weltanschauungs - Isms and Ologies lists them all, and explains their salient features clearly and accessibly. So, if you want to lend a veneer of intellectual rigour to your small talk, or if you are genuinely curious to know the defining features of fauvism and the crucial characteristics of phenomenology, Isms and Ologies could be just the book you are looking for.