The Passion Of The Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View Paperback – 2 Sep 2010
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"I have never read a book about the ways in which we think that was clearer or more exciting" (John Cleese)
"Quite brilliant" (Guardian)
"[This] magnificent critical survey, with its inherent respect for both the 'West's mainstream high culture' and the 'radically changing world' of the 1990s, offers a new breakthrough for lay and scholarly readers alike... Allows readers to grasp the big picture of Western culture as if for the first time" (San Francisco Chronicle)
"30,000 years of Western thought distilled into a powerful, enthralling narrative" (Sydney Morning Herald)
"An extraordinary work of scholarship. It not only places the history of Western thought in perspective, but offers new insights concerning the evolution of our thinking and the future of the whole human enterprise" (John E. Mack, winner of the Pulitzer Prize)
'The most lucid and concise presentation of Western thought. The writing is elegant and carries the reader with the momentum of a novel... A noble performance' - Joseph CampbellSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Minor quibbles - this book sometimes gets bogged down in huge sentences and obscure vocabulary where it's not helpful. And some ideas (eg the various attempts to describe the cosmos) would be better expressed in a diagram.
Tarnas identifies brilliantly the bifurcations and break-points in the thinking processes and the ideas espoused by the Western Mind. This text is not a cook-book, rather it is an educational privilege to read Tarnas thinking and analysis.
The fundamental tension running through the text is between mans independence from the world (his dreams, hopes and fears) and his dependence on a physical universe that is indifferent to him (his needs for physical well being: food, warmth, community).
An example of this tension is where the 'reason v faith' dichotomy is reassessed by the Romantics in the nineteenth century:
"The early modern dichotomy between secular science and the Christian religion, now became a more general schism between scientific rationalism on the one hand and the multifaceted Romantic humanistic culture on the other, with the latter now including a diversity of religious and philosophical perspectives loosely allied with the literary and artistic tradition."
In this way modern man has an "inner culture" of art, literature and religion while at the same time having an "outer culture" of nature, the cosmos and the limits of what it is possible to know.
Everywhere man finds himself free, but bounded, in a new set of double truths: inner-outer, subject-object, man-world, humanities-science. In short man became divided within and without. As Tarnas says "Modern man was a divided animal, inexplicably self-aware in an indifferent universe."
And so man has become trapped in a world of his own ideas and making.Read more ›
However: I would strongly recommend that you skip the prologue at the end of the book. After a monumental and groundbreaking analysis of western thought, Tarnas proceeds to deliver one the most bizarre and fantastic personal theories I have ever read. This is not to say that it isn't valid, it just doesn't fit well at the end of such an impartial book.
Nevertheless, this should definitely be read by anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of the roots of philosophy, psychology etc.
Maybe too much to read from cover to cover, but very good to dip into.
Think of a philosopher and read a resume of his ideas.
(By the way, women were not allowed to think until the 20th century...)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent read, it gave me food for thought, was delivered on time and well wrappedPublished 2 months ago by Sandra
Outstanding book well writen tho ' difficult to come to yerms with .It was delivered well before stippulated delivery time .Thank youPublished 8 months ago by fbrod
An unusual perspective into how jungian psychology can explain the western mind.Published 17 months ago by Mr. I. Erem
Very good book haven't finished it yet, but it is very highbrow so I need a dictionary by my side while readingPublished on 20 Mar. 2013 by Mrs. S. M. smith
The great majority of this book was - for this layman at least - a lucid and enjoyable account of the major ideas in Western philosophical, religious and scientific thought, from... Read morePublished on 14 Jun. 2011 by least weasel