From a philosopher whose magisterial history of Western thought was praised by Joseph Campbell and Huston Smith comes a brilliant new book that traces the connection between cosmic cycles and archetypal patterns of human experience. Drawing on years of research and on thinkers from Plato to Jung, Richard Tarnas explores the planetary correlations of epochal events like the French Revolution, the two world wars, and September 11. Whether read as astrology updated for the quantum age or as a contemporary classic of spirituality, Cosmos and Psyche is a work of immense sophistication, deep learning, and lasting importance.
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.