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Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  622 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 592 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Plume Books (first published September 1st 1996)
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adam prometheus
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Owen Spencer
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Morgan Blackledge

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
Greg Tilden
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jessica Davidson
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  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Katherine Duff Smith
It turns out astrology is right.
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Proof of astrology and that Pluto is a planet.
Christopher Miller
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 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
Carole Brooks Platt
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
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rebekah Moan
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
first few pages are 5 star genius but the rest of it seems like a prank
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dawn Matarese
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book! A compelling analysis of historical cycles and human development
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
Abner Rosenweig
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
Brandon Peele
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was very interesting. The book clarified that astrology began based on the principle of synchronicity (see Carl Jung). Similar to throwing coins in I Ching or reading tea leaves, reading the stars at a particular time gives insight into the 'state' of things. It isn't, then, that the stars cause or create events on earth or elsewhere in the universe, but, rather, that hey give insights into the constellation of events. The book had more detail than I needed.
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Oct 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: astrology adherants
Shelves: stopped-reading
it's an interesting thesis, but I couldn't read it anymore. I like astrology mainly for the concept of the houses and how they create a circular developmental psychology model that can be looked at in many different ways.
I'd like to find a book about that, but haven't, and so this book kind of didn't really get me all that jazzed beyond it's original thesis.
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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
More about Richard Tarnas...
“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.” 6 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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