Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sat Aug 27, 2016 3:08 am

<< Week of August 27, 2016 >>
Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
27 Day Month

28 Day Month

29 Day Month

30 Day Month

31 Day Month

1 Day Month

2 Day Month





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Tarnas on Paradigm Shift 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 4969
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1614
Thanked: 1616 times in 1221 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Tarnas on Paradigm Shift
The Epilogue of The Passion of The Western Mind by Richard Tarnas presents a set of provocative claims about how Tarnas sees the zeitgeist shifting. I will attempt to summarise some of his main points here as a basis for discussion of the theme of paradigm shift, the famous idea popularized by TS Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

A paradigm is a framework of meaning, a set of ideas that constitutes a person's worldview. Kuhn famously argued that examples of paradigm shift are from the geocentric to the heliocentric cosmologies, and from the Newtonian-Euclidian concept of space to Einsteinian relativity. Similarly, the shift from Biblical creationism to Darwinian evolution, or from traditional logical rationality to the depth psychology claims of unconscious instinct as driver of behaviour, constitute major paradigm shifts. Kuhn’s argument was that people in an obsolete paradigm are so identified with their false ideas that they are simply incapable of seeing the obvious truth in the new vision.

In pointing to a ‘reintegration of our culture, a new possibility of the unity of consciousness’ (415), Tarnas defines the modern paradigm as the set of ideas historically framed by the thought of Copernicus, Kant and Descartes. This troika of great modern thinkers constituted the modern worldview in terms of cosmology and the theory of reality and knowledge. Tarnas says the Copernican revolution, by opening the vista of a vast and impersonal universe, was decisive in the disenchantment of the natural world, “a primordial event, world-destroying and world-constituting.” Descartes responded to this modern shock by emphasizing the self as distinct and separate from the external world that it seeks to understand and master. Kant consolidated this modern vision by his theory that only experience is real, and all knowledge is interpretation. For modernity, the world is devoid of spiritual purpose, without intrinsic meaning. The soul is not ‘at home in the modern cosmos’. The world is a construct, contextual and theory-soaked. The troika of estrangers cast humans as aliens, with matter and spirit radically separated. So Tarnas compares modern philosophy to an obsessive-compulsive repeatedly tying and untying his shoelaces because he never gets it quite right, “while in the meantime Socrates and Hegel and Aquinas are already high in the mountains on their hike, breathing the bracing alpine air, seeing new and unexpected vistas.” (421)

Let us see how well Tarnas can justify this dismissive comment about the modern worldview.
He says the power of modernity focuses on control of nature through interpretation that is “concretely predictive, mechanistic, structural… systematically cleansed of all spiritual and human qualities.” The immense power of modern control has produced technological abundance, but Tarnas asks if it comes at the price of loss of soul, the loss of knowledge of a reality beyond human subjectivity? He discusses this claim in analyzing the thought of Carl Jung, who he says followed Kant in developing a theory of archetypes as patterns of human projection, but later moved to a view of archetypes as ‘patterns of meaning that inhere in both psyche and matter’ (425). Tarnas explores this idea through the work of Grof, who saw the history of civilization through the metaphor of individual life, from oceanic embryo through painful birth and individuation through to recognition of a higher cosmic unity. Hence the Biblical archetype, expulsion from paradise and experience of the universe as indifferent, pointing towards a final reconciliation of nature and spirit, is a model for individual life.

Tarnas argues that the modern subject-object epistemology is metaphor for the moment of individuation, a powerful but risky stage leading towards higher wisdom. “Repudiation of any intrinsic meaning or purpose in nature, demand for a univocal, literal interpretation of a world of hard facts, ensure the construction of a disenchanted and alienating world view.” (431) Tarnas sees this modern claim as intrinsically wrong and oppressive, bringing the return of the repressed in the underworld of the psyche – “the Cartesian-Kantian condition evolves into a Kafka-Beckett like state of existential isolation and absurdity.” (432)

In proposing a “more sophisticated and comprehensive epistemological perspective”, Tarnas identifies as forebears Goethe, Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Coleridge, Emerson and Steiner. His key comment is that the common thread in these thinkers was “the fundamental conviction that the relation of the human mind to the world was ultimately not dualistic but participatory…Nature becomes intelligible to itself through the human mind.” (433) Rather than nature as a separate material object to be mastered, we ourselves are channeling nature in our thought as imagination directly contacts the creative process within nature. The world’s truth reveals itself within and through the human mind, reflecting the universe’s unfolding meaning. In this participatory epistemological framework, conjecture and myth arise from something far deeper than a purely human source, from a wellspring of nature itself, a kinship with the cosmos.

Tarnas sets this kinship vision as a paradigm, in Kuhn’s terms, that cannot be measured against the criteria of modernity, lacking common measure or value as standard of comparison. Only as this paradigm resonates with the collective psyche will it gain traction, once the prison of modernity reaches a crisis of tension and an inspired Promethean genius comes along and is graced with an inner breakthrough to a new vision that gives the scientific mind a new sense of being cognitively connected. An example is Newton’s illumination of the theory of gravity as a divine revelation ‘I think thy thoughts after thee!’. Once the old paradigm loses its numinosity and is felt as ‘oppressive, limiting, opaque’, a new paradigm can emerge as a liberating birth into a new, luminously intelligible universe.

“A new philosophical paradigm, whether that of Plato, Aquinas, Kant or Heidegger, … reflects the experience of a global experiential gestalt.” (439) The contemporary world is ‘breaking through… out of what Blake called its ‘mind-forged manacles’ to rediscover its intimate relationship with nature and the larger cosmos.” (440)

For Tarnas to set the problem as between ‘the autonomous rational human self’ and ‘primordial unity with nature’ is far from a simple claim. If such ‘unity’ defies logical analysis and evidential criteria, it could well open a path to irrationality. Yet, Tarnas suggests this unity is emerging in “the growing recognition of an immanent intelligence in nature, in the broad popularity of the Gaia hypothesis... an epochal shift .. a sacred marriage between …the alienated masculine and the …ascending feminine…The deepest passion of the western mind is to reunite with the ground of its own being…the telos,…to reconnect with the cosmos.” (443)

Tarnas concludes that Western thought is not simply an imperialist plot, but a noble part of a great dialectic, an evolving process of thought that has prepared the way for its own self-transcendence through opening to the feminine. This argument is a highly provocative challenge to the logic of modern rationality. By starting with a cosmic intuition it opens a path for a mystical sense of unity.

The theme of channeling Gaia as the goddess of nature is one that has emerged more strongly in the science of planetary homeostasis as an explanation of global heating and its likely consequences. Tarnas himself takes this intuitive method forward in his next book, Cosmos and Psyche, where he sets our planetary reality in the cosmic framework of the solar system and its rhythms, a highly disconcerting approach for people used to scientific evidential criteria.

I personally think that Tarnas has opened core questions for human identity with this discussion of the paradigm shift required to address the modern planetary crisis. In asking that philosophy seek to think nature, the western concept of autonomy is thrown into radical doubt. Tarnas cites Heidegger as one thinker who has opened such a challenge to the modern paradigm, presenting a participatory rather than autonomous worldview.

This participatory agenda can be used to assess a range of current ideas. For example, I am now reading The Vanishing Face of Gaia – A Final Warning by James Lovelock. It presents a compelling logic against Tarnas’s suggestion of paradigm shift, but is incomprehensible for those mired in the logic of control. Yet Lovelock seems to suggest that the logic of control condemns its adherents to the fate of a frog in a warming pot, lacking the vision to jump out as its instinctive responses lead it to wait until it is too late.


Robert Tulip



The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Grim, Interbane, Lawrence, oblivion
Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:59 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Internet Sage

Gold Contributor 2

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 343
Location: Florida
Thanks: 51
Thanked: 46 times in 33 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Tarnas on Paradigm Shift
Robert,
That was as splendid a piece of analysis as I have ever read. I'm not sure Tarnas even knew that is what he was saying, but after you have expressed it thus, I believe that is what he was trying to say. I hope you will post it on Amazon comments and send a copy to Mr. Tarnas. If I were he, I would be thrilled to have someone understand what I was writing as completely, objectively, and thoroughly as you have his book.



Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:21 pm
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Eligible to vote in book polls!


Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 25
Location: Washington DC
Thanks: 3
Thanked: 2 times in 2 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Tarnas on Paradigm Shift
Robert,

You sir, as are the rest of the posters, are swiming in the deep end of the pool, while I splash about in the one for kiddies.

Paradigm shift.

Tarnas, from what I have read, believes that one is occuring. I think that much is obvious to most people. This is, if you use the definition of pardigm as a framework for interperting the world, has been happening for the past 50 years at least. Paradigm change has a long gestation period.

My interpertation is the archetypes that have provided the anchors for the past 2000 years are dimming. They are unchangeable as Forms, rather is the world is moving away from them as part of an unending cycle.

I believe the Forms remain, it is the windows we look out to observe them are slowly, perhaps like a cylinder, changing. Beauty remains Beauty, the instances have changed. Each Form is a spoke in a wheel. Each spoke returns to the same hub.


_________________
nova
http://theamericanapocalypse.blogspot.com/


Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:42 pm
Profile Email WWW
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Links 
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Info for Authors & Publishers
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!
IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

Featured Books

Books by New Authors


*

FACTS is a select group of active BookTalk.org members passionate about promoting Freethought, Atheism, Critical Thinking and Science.

Apply to join FACTS
See who else is in FACTS







BookTalk.org is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.



Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2016. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank