Re: Recommendation for a book on the history of human civilizations?
Veneer, I read Cosmos and Psyche
before I read Passion of the Western Mind
. My interest in Cosmos and Psyche
was in the claim that Tarnas provides an empirical argument in support of astrology. Tarnas argues that the cycles of the outer planets have a detectable resonance on the earth. He restricts his astrological argument to this point about the outer planets, making no mention of sun signs. It is an intriguing and scientifically possible claim, and far better than most astrology, which tends towards intuitive speculation without evidence or logic.
The real weakness of Cosmos and Psych
e is that if the planetary effects he describes do exist, they are extremely weak, given that they have not been detected by objective statistical analysis. However, Tarnas' method is anecdotal, for example arguing that the greatest scientific geniuses all have Sun-Uranus aspects in their birth charts, and therefore Uranus has an empirical link to innovation on earth. While this claim is possible, it is far from persuasive or compelling, in the absence of replicable statistical data, and indicates he is pushing a belief rather than reporting on objective findings. Tarnas says his findings about planetary effects are compelling, using this term in a way that is inconsistent with normal scientific usage.
His evidence is fascinating, but is entirely anecdotal and cherry-picked, rather than systematic, so does not prove his conclusions. My view remains that systematic study of planetary effects is highly likely to detect astrological regularities, but that these effects are so weak, and so swamped by terrestrial factors, that very large datasets will be needed. To date no one has provided the resources for systematic astrological research together with a robust research methodology, except Michel Gauquelin, the French scientist who proved some effects. Most scientific studies of astrology start with the agenda of debunking pseudo-science, and suffer from bias and inadequacy in their research methods. Claims that astrology has been disproved are ideological.
Tarnas is a serious and coherent thinker, but his stance in favour of astrology means his claims are tainted by a woo-woo advocacy of unproven speculation. More caveats about the weakness of his research method would have made Cosmos and Psyche
a better book, but if you are already open to the claims of planetary aspect and transit theory, such as the interpretations made in Planets in Transit
by Robert Hand, Cosmos and Psyche
is full of intriguing anecdotal support. A few years ago I discussed Cosmos and Psyche at bautforum.com