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Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View Hardcover – January 19, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to Tarnas, acclaimed author of The Passion of the Western Mind, history is on the verge of a major shift, comparable to the one wrought by Copernicus and Galileo, but a seemingly antiscientific one: an astrological turn that can only be understood thorough chronicling planetary alignments as they correlate to the rise of the modern mind over the last 500 years. Understanding planetary alignments, for Tarnas, is crucial to the world's future and requires "a genuine dialogue" with the cosmos, by "opening ourselves more fully" to "the other," to ancient and indigenous epistemologies, even "to other forms of life, other modes of the universe's self-disclosure." Filled with philosophical, religious, literary and scientific thinking ranging from Luther and Kepler through Hemingway and even Hitchcock and Dylan, Tarnas's book is not only sweeping in subject but dense and sometimes painfully slow going. It requires at once a strong background in the history of modern thought, an advanced knowledge of astrology, a willingness to withhold skepticism about the role of planetary alignments of the past in understanding life today and the avoidance of imminent world catastrophe. Tarnas's call to redefine what we consider as "legitimate knowledge" will resonate in some sectors, but it will be a tough sell with the more scientifically hardheaded. (Jan. 23)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

World history is vast and confusing. How to find coherence? Tarnas thinks the answer lies in astrology. Possessing a tremendous amount of historical knowledge, the author correlates human history's big events and personalities with the orbits of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Why only Pluto, but not Pluto-size objects (or, for that matter, extrasolar planets) recently discovered, should reign over us goes unexamined, but be that as it may, Tarnas discusses charts, planetary alignments, and archetypal personality traits embodied by the planets so aligned. Reaching into mythology and Jungian psychology, Tarnas associates history makers with, for example, a Neptune-Pluto conjunction. Averring an empirical basis to his research, Tarnas proves a determined writer whose fortress of connected dates, historical trends, and philosophical thought defies would-be challengers to his cosmic viewpoint. Casual astrology buffs and readers of the daily horoscope may find this volume heavy going. This is a book for those who are as intrigued by and as convinced of astrology's validity as Tarnas. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (January 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670032921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670032921
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Nagy on January 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View by Richard Tarnas (Viking) Students of Carl Jung and astrologers will find Tarnas's new work an extension of their own cultural psychology of cycles. To what degree the skeptical majority will be willing to read this large work and suspend of their skepticism long enough to seriously entertain Tarnas's correlations and conclusions is another matter altogether. Much as in his previous work, The Passion of the Western Mind, Tarnas has a gift for global statements and pattern-recognition often missed in less far-reaching histories. Essentially this work is an account of the postmodern mind or the cultural formation of self within the last 500 years with an eye towards the future. The book brims with intense learning, literary history, social movements, philosophical schools, scientific trends, business and economic inclinations, scientific developments, environmental changes in particulars are woven together in to decipherable patterns of cyclic development. Readers of Joseph Campbell's Masks of God will find in Tarnas a fuller account of modern creative mythology, often disguised in our world as history and ideology, science and religion. Like his preceding work, this volume is a work of speculative history as corresponding to the long cycles of the outer planets such as Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. These 20 and 30 some odd year cycles offer a grid for Tarnas to notice uncanny correspondences between historical and cultural events in our globalized world which seems to demonstrate a collective unconscious and a human consciousness that will continue to change in profound and essentially unpredictable but radical ways in the future.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
When I read Tarnas' first book, "The Passion of The Western Mind," I was incredibly impressed by the depth of his insight, especially in the Epilogue, which expressed a whole constellation of profound ideas concerning the dialectical progression of world views and the relationship of self and world that I (and probably many others) had been blindly groping towards but had neither the breadth of knowledge nor the integrative power to articulate. In those thirty pages, Tarnas managed to formulate not only a tenable, but a rigorously convincing theory of how the subject-object dichotomy and the disenchantment of the cosmos (which he renders intelligible as the necessary price that we have paid for the individuation of the modern human subject) can be overcome. Since then, through years of study and thought, I have gone back to that Epilogue many times, always impressed, not only by the unique depth and clarity of the insights expressed therein, but by those insights' applicability to a vast number of unresolved intellectual and practical issues that constellate our current, postmodern world view.

After reading "Passion," I did some research on Tarnas and I discovered that he was interested in astrology. At first, I was disappointed that the man who had written "Passion" could believe in something as obviously naive and ridiculous as astrology. However, after reading several elegant and rigorously reasoned essays Tarnas had written about archetypal astrology, I was forced to reconsider my position. Over the next few years, I bought several books on astrology, and I found them to be interesting, though I remained unconvinced since the philosophical arguments contained in the books that I read (when they bothered at all) were generally cursory and unsophisticated.
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Format: Hardcover
Don't let the references to astrology in the other reviews turn you off toward reading this book. I am not particularly interested in astrology, and yet I found this book to be a breath taking, far ranging analysis of where Western culture and history have come from, where it is now, and where it is going. I have been looking for a book that could explain the spiritual dimensions of how, and why, the world has been forever changed. It is not simply a matter of having more technology today than we did 50 years ago. This goes back to the paradigm shift in how reality was viewed as the result of Copernicus' resurrection of ancient Greek philosophical theories of the Universe and our place in it. This book provides a well written, engrossing account of this story and how we got where we are today...and where we are going! Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
I use this book in the graduate courses I teach (theories of depth psych, qualitative research) and am glad to recommend it as an exciting look at an emerging paradigm, one in which human beings use quantitative AND qualitative tools to listen in on our living surroundings.

For people who feel drawn to astrology but put off by its vulgar forms, particularly the pre-Enlightenment notion that the stars exert some kind of causal force on human doings, this book offers a synchronistic way of holding the entire topic, one that connects world transits (those of the slow-moving outer planets) and historical events in stunning patterns of significance too important to overlook. For a contemporary example, think of the Saturn-Pluto alignment just ending: rigidity, contraction, and Saturn's cannibalistic appetite for innocence given extra punch by the Plutonic underworld. This alignment occurred during the start of both World Wars, the start of the Cold War, the rise of fascist movements all over the world, and the bombing of the World Trade Center and the subsequent paranoia and militarization.

Professor Tarnas piles on the parallels, but he must to make his point: that such correlations must be seen interpretively, symbolically, and metaphorically. This is a qualitative approach, and yes, it is scientific: science as hermeneutics and participatory inquiry. As Abraham Maslow remarked, if the given data don't fit a type of science that only counts and measures, then so much the worse for that view of science.

Tarnas's idea of diachrony is particularly powerful: the idea that events occurring during one world transit develop during all the following ones. The implication is that something at the archetypal level of being is evolving--but evolving in ways discernible in human culture.
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