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Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  733 ratings  ·  57 reviews
From a philosopher whose history of Western thought was praised by Joseph Campbell & Huston Smith comes a book tracing the connection between cosmic cycles & archetypal patterns of experience. Drawing on years of research & on thinkers from Plato to Jung, Tarnas explores the planetary correlations of epochal events like the French Revolution, the world wars &am ...more
Paperback, 569 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Plume/Penguin Group (NYC) (first published September 1st 1996)
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4.18  · 
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 ·  733 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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adam prometheus
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow! I think this book is going to change the world. Tarnas' research is absolutely astounding-- he is a well-renowned historian, and he's the only one to go into historical astrology in such depth and with such scientific dignity and prowess. 30 years in the making, Cosmos and Psyche is a mind-blowing masterpiece which presents historical eras alongside the planetary alignments and astrological events, along with the lives of historical figures, their birth charts and planetary returns, and exp ...more
Feb 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Sure, trying to make a serious case for the cyclical positioning of the planets as having an intermediary influence upon the terrestrial course of events seems loopy and absurd in this, our high tide of technocultural rationalism - but full marks to Tarnas both for having the sheer balls to publish this obvious labour of love and for refusing to back down from the implications of his own argument. He will doubtless join the ranks of those like Koestler, who endured much maligning - and took a se ...more
Morgan Blackledge
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was ok

All of the "evidence" for astrology was "retro-dictive" rather than predictive.

In other words, the "research" looked at history and explained the events based on the astrology.

The idea was that the events were explainable by what an astrologer could have predicted.

And that somehow proved astrology is true.

That doesn't really prove anything.

The book had a sciencey feel.

But it was clearly not science.

I'm embarrassed that I read it.

But I did.

That was back when I still had an open
Owen Spencer
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book has permanently altered my worldview. In short, the author, a respected scholar/scientist, presents a busload of data strongly suggesting that the movements and alignments of the outer planets of our solar system are strongly correlated (i.e., synchronistic) with certain kinds of events that repeatedly and predictably occur on Earth. Strange though it may seem, the data convincingly demonstrates that the entire solar system predicts (and perhaps influences) the trends of human history ...more
Greg Tilden
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Quote me on this, that this book is an early sign of an entirely new potential re-structuring of the way we relate to the world. Most beautifully written, brought me to the point of tears as well as shakes when reading, even only 100 pages in. I hope to study with Tarnas at CIIS for graduate school.
A. J. McMahon
Tarnas is not a very good writer, being one of those authors who is verbose in the extreme. He never uses one word where ten will do, and his prose style is so over-the-top that at times I just had to laugh. His ideas are interesting, however, and he expresses them so clearly as to be highly intelligible, which is a big point in his favour. His argument is that up till the Enlightenment we lived in a world in which we were a part of a larger whole, which meant among other things that meaning was ...more
Carole Brooks Platt
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Richard Tarnas is a man with a vision, which happens to include not only the vastness of the universe (the cosmos), but also the depths of the individual creative mind (the psyche). In the process, he combines a historical time frame (the synchronic) with the diachronic sweep of time through the lens of the alignment of the outer planets. Whereas you would think an astrological vision would be totally out of reality's ballpark, it turns out that his argument is very convincing, most of all becau ...more
Jessica Davidson
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: astrology, mythology
This brilliant book follows on from The Passion Of The Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View and offers a worldview and cosmology to help heal the disastrous split in the Western psyche. Tarnas demonstrates with overwhelming levels of detail and clarity, that there is another way of looking at reality. For full review:
Todd B Stevens
May 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Katherine Duff Smith
It turns out astrology is right.
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Proof of astrology and that Pluto is a planet.
Christopher Miller
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever wondered why certain types of historical events seem to recur on a fairly frequent basis? This book explains it in a way that makes sense of the whys and wherefores.

The Transformation of the Cosmos

Before the scientific age dawned, Man was at the centre of the Universe. Then Copernicus decided that the Sun was the centre of our local solar system and not the Earth, and Man became alienated with the Cosmos (according to the author Richard Tarnas). But, at the time, the scientists saw
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
If what he claims is true, it would be something beautiful. Unfortunately, it takes a stretch of the imagination to convince myself. The selective choices made concerning persons and events, along with the elasticity of archetypes, allows for a kind of dullness of the intellect to take over if one gives in to it. Skepticism chastens us for the better, I believe, and I prefer to remain in good conscience. That being said, though the thesis here is not a topic for proving, it is not necessarily un ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first encountered this book at the Henry Miller Library last summer I had a vague hunch that there were answers to be found somewhere inside, so I followed up and began the complicating, invigorating, and disillusioning process. What I found was: a cultural history of the past 2500 years of "western civlization" engaging enough to almost have a plot; an introduction to discerning archetypes within the collective and individual texts of cultural-ish activity (and thus, over time, intimatio ...more
Abner Rosenweig
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was deceived. There is nothing in the book's title, or on the description on the back cover, or in the first 60 pages(!), that mentions the book is about astrology. If I had known this book was about astrology, I never would have bought it.

I want my money back.

Disappointment aside, Tarnas is an outstanding writer and I would eagerly read his other book, "The Passion of the Western Mind." The first two parts of "Cosmos and Psyche"--approximately the first 60 pages--are a stunning recapitulati
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Tarnas clearly has an expansive and impressive grasp on the currents and paradigms of the history of western civilization. I found this book enlightening and mind expanding bringing insights on world history, philiosophy, the arts and cultural developments over the course of western histrory. Tarnas succeeds in giving us insights on the forces which shape our perspective and encourages us to look more broadly at the world and begin to reenchant our world views. The frame of reference of archetyp ...more
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In a lot of ways, this book challenges us to look into what could be the next step in our evolution, and re-connection with the cosmos.

Basically, Tarnas takes a look at the planetary alignments, particularly the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and yes, even Pluto) to historically examine the archetypes of these planets (both known and shadow), with the correlations throughout history that have occurred with the implications of these same alignments bearing similar and unique impl
Dec 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Mind-numbingly over-written with many repetitions and 70+ word sentences. This could easily be a couple hundred pages shorter and get the same points across. The points made in the book are interesting, but they're buried excess verbiage.
Oct 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spirituality
I wanted to like this book - I was very interested in the subject matter (archetypes and astrology) and the author's point of view. Unfortunately, the writing style was so academic and dense that it was a real struggle to get through a page, let alone a chapter. I got the feeling that the author was using difficult language as a way to add credibility to his ideas. I read about a quarter of the way into it, and skimmed the rest.
Jun 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm still in the thick of it, but it's a really unique perspective on Astrology as it actually corresponds with Human History. Very compelling. The author has a tendency to repeat himself endlessly in his support and reiteration of his thesis, but it is understandable considering how skeptical most readers will be.

For believers and skeptics - a very interesting read.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Every serious student of astrology should read this book before getting mired in all the pop personalistic pseudo-spiritual colour-by-numbers texts that offend the intelligence of thinkers who approach them with open minds. Richard Tarnas has sought and in some ways managed to bridge two worlds: the domain of subtle awareness and experience science has yet to explain, and the no less esoteric if rational realm of the academy.

It’s typical of educated sceptics to regard Tarnas’s project with ambiv
Steven Pennebaker
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tough review to write. On the one hand, the book seems like it’s 200 pages too long, but it also seems like it’s 200 pages too short. It’s poorly organized, but in another sense, very well organized. It is a brilliant survey of intellectual trends in western civilization and at the same time selective in order to support its arguments. It is thoroughly researched but I can’t help but feel that an equally thoroughly researched book could prove it completely wrong. Its fundamental argume ...more
Rebekah Moan
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took me a long time to read this book because not only is it academically rigorous, but there was only so much I could absorb at a time. I found "Cosmos and Psyche" to be highly engrossing and irrevocably changed how I interact with the world and how I perceive others. Reading "Cosmos and Psyche" and then applying what I learned to personal as well as world astrological transits, I have a deeper understanding of my own psyche and plausible explanations for why certain things transpire. Not th ...more
Dawn Matarese
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book! A compelling analysis of historical cycles and human development
Brandon Peele
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Excellent diagnoses of the narrow objectivist/scientific worldview currently afoot. The first 80 pages are incredibly logical and give pause to anyone who thinks that science is advancing our comprehension of consciousness, the cosmos and the meaning of life. He also makes an interesting case for the study of, but not the belief in, astrology. The crux of his argument is that inner and outer, psyche and cosmos, are inextricably intertwined, that there is a tremendous disconnect between the objec ...more
Jun 22, 2010 rated it liked it
You know, I really wish I liked this more. I liked the section a lot. I thought the middle sections were sufficiently informative, if not repetative and overlong. Another section in the middle about personal natal charts and the closer planets - which were actually known in antiquity would have really brought a lot of support to his arguments. However, I felt that at a certian point, he'd pointed out so many synchronist examples and pointed out the ambivalent archetypal connections of so many ev ...more
3 stars is perhaps unjust. This book does a very good job of describing archetypal configurations of the outer planets and how they relate to historical events. It is very worthwhile in this regard. However, for me, it was preaching to the converted, and the vast amount of historical data that this author has mastered and correlated with movements of the planets was not terribly interesting to me.

While Tarnas writes well, he writes with a lot of words. I am currently interested in learning new t
May 28, 2009 rated it liked it
This is interesting to me because well-respected scholar Richard Tarnas builds the case for credibility in Astrology. He cites examples throughout time of how the stars manifested in the human psyche via the natal chart and how the world was affected.

Too many scientists debunk astrology which has been around for centuries...back to Pythagorus in Greece.

It's not a light read. But if you like science and astrology, you might like this theoretical approach and event based examples.

I must note that
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a book isn't for the 'lite' reader. It is for readers interested in exploring how historical events, famous leaders and the socio-psychological dynamics of a society maintain a consistent and ongoing dance with planetary cycles, archetypes and astrological symbols. If you are a serious student of astrology, like myself, looking to learn more about the fascinating relationship of the Outer Planets with the social rhythm, then it is a must read.
Started out well enough, though the style of was academic and opaque, and there were some interesting observations about scientists being as dismissive of Kepler and Copernicus as was the Church (that was eye opening), but then Tarnas decides to take astrology seriously and leaves the reader struggling through a WTF bog.

Not recommended for serious readers (anyone believing astrology is a lark) and those unprepared to wade through a sterile prose style.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Answer to philosophical problems of Western thought in Jung's archetypes and synchronicity, or Plato's forms as present in planetary motion. Brilliant, clear understanding of Western philosophy. Nearly no understanding of non-European history or thought, though it is perhaps what he is reaching for. Great ideas, great introduction for scientific materialist types into astrology and philosophy. Overly ambitious execution. Very thought-provoking.
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Richard Theodore Tarnas (born February 21, 1950) is a cultural historian known for his books The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View and Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. Tarnas is professor of philosophy and psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and is the founding director of its graduate program in Philosop ...more
“Humanity's "progress of knowledge" and the "evolution of consciousness" have too often been characterized as if our task were simply to ascend a very tall cognitive ladder with graded hierarchical steps that represent successive developmental stages in which we solve increasingly challenging mental riddles, like advanced problems in a graduate exam in biochemistry or logic. But to understand life and the cosmos better, perhaps we are required to transform not only our minds but our hearts. For the whole being, body and soul, mind and spirit, is implicated. Perhaps we must go not only high and far but down and deep. Our world view and cosmology, which defines the context for everything else, is profoundly affected by the degree to which all out faculties–intellectual, imaginative, aesthetic, moral, emotional, somatic, spiritual, relational–enter the process of knowing. How we approach "the other," and how we approach each other, will shape everything, including out own evolving self and the cosmos in which we participate.” 13 likes
“And if this disenchanted vision were elevated to the status of being the only legitimate vision of the nature of the cosmos upheld by an entire civilization, what an incalculable loss, an impoverishment, a tragic deformation, a grief, would ultimately be suffered by both knower and known.
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