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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View by Richard Tarnas (Viking) With The Passion of the Western Mind, Richard Tarnas gave the world what many scholars, from Joseph Campbell to Huston Smith, regard as one of the finest histories of the Western mind and spirit ever written. Now, Cosmos and Psyche challenges the basic assumptions of the modern world view with an extraordinary new body of evidence that points towards a profound new perspective on the human role in the cosmos.

Based on thirty years of research, Cosmos and Psyche is the first book by a widely respected scholar to demonstrate the existence of a consistent correspondence between planetary movements and the archetypal patterns of human experience. This volume examines such famous epochs of cultural rebellion as the 1960s and the French Revolution, as well as periods of historical crisis such as the world wars and September 11th. Cosmos and Psyche also explores comparable patterns and planetary correlations in the lives of many individuals, from Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud to Martin Luther King, Betty Friedan, and John Lennon.

Cosmos and Psyche shines new light on the unfolding drama of human history and our own critical age. It also suggests a new possibility for reuniting religion and science, soul and intellect, ancient wisdom and modern reason in the quest to understand the past and create the future.

Cosmos and Psyche shines new light on the unfolding drama of human history and our own critical age. It also suggests a new possibility for reuniting religion and science, soul and intellect, ancient wisdom and modern reason in the quest to understand the past and create the future.

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. Tarnas recognizes that we live in a time of incredible cultural and scientific ferment that will radically remake what human beings are and can do in the near futures.  These times are fraught with great danger and great promise.  Even if one is unwilling to seriously entertain the correspondences between astrological planetary cycles and world-historical events, the book is inspiring because of the way the author sees how we can grasp hold of our future and ride the cycles much as a surfer rides a wave.  In many ways Tarnas’ study represents one of the most sustained arguments for pattern and predictability in historical processes.  One that may set historians on edge because it almost seems to be saying that noticing the cycles of the outer planets can reveal deep patterns of correspondence in terrestrial events.  However one responds to this organizing claim in this study, Tarnas has created a great visionary historical work that will influence many, not only in the new age counterculture but also in the business entrepreneurial world of creative innovation and social engineering.  If for no other reason, this work has importance as a continuation of Carl Jung’s cultural psychology of archetypes and how they can be applied to the interpretation of contemporary events and social and cultural trends in the arts, business, politics, science and religion.

Free Will edited by Robert Kane (Blackwell Readings in Philosophy: Blackwell) brings together the essential readings in the debate about free will and determinism. Written by top scholars in the field, the essays represent some of the clearest and most accessible thinking on this subject. The introduction offers a concise yet thorough mapping of this age-old debate as well as a helpful overview of the selections.

To what extent are we truly free? Are our actions determined? If so, are we morally responsible for our actions? And does such determinism necessarily conflict with free will? This volume covers wide-ranging issues in the debate about free will, including the distinction between freedom of choice and freedom of will, moral responsibility, determinism, and compatibility.

This compact collection of some of the best and most provocative writing on free will is ideal for anyone who wants to explore this complex problem.

Contents: Acknowledgments. Introduction: Robert Kane. Part I: The Free Will Problem: Standard Positions: Compatibilism, Libertarianism, Hard and Soft Determinism: 1. Walden Two: Freedom and the Behavioral Sciences: B. F. Skinner. 2. The Compatibility of Freedom and Determinism: Kai Nielsen. 3. Human Freedom and the Self: Roderick Chisholm. 4. Hard and Soft Determinism: Paul Edwards. Part II: The Compatibility / Incompatibility Question: Alternative Possibilities and Moral Responsibility: 5. The Incompatibility of Free Will and Determinism: Peter van Inwagen. 6. I Could Not Have Done Otherwise -– So What?: Daniel Dennett. 7. Frankfurt-style Examples, Responsibility and Semi-compatibilism: John Martin Fischer. 8. The Explanatory Irrelevance of Alternative Possibilities: Derk Pereboom. Part III: Hierarchical Motivation, Deep Self Theories and Reactive Attitudes: New Compatibilist Theories: 9. Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person: Harry Frankfurt. 10. Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility: Susan Wolf. 11. Responsibility and the Limits of Evil; Variations on a Strawsonian Theme: Gary Watson. Part IV: The Intelligibility Question: Libertarian or Incompatibilist Views of Free Agency and Free Will: 12. The Mystery of Metaphysical Freedom: Peter van Inwagen. 13. The Agent as Cause: Timothy O'Connor. 14. Freedom, Responsibility and Agency: Carl Ginet. 15. Free Will: New Directions for an Ancient Problem: Robert Kane. 16. Chess, Life and Superlife: David Hodgson. Part V: Religion and Free Will: Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: 17. Divine Foreknowledge, Evil, and the Free Choice of the Will: St. Augustine. 18. God, Time, Knowledge and Freedom: The Historical Matrix; William Hasker. Glossary. Bibliography. Index.

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