The modern mind has long assumed that there are few things more categorically distant from each other than "cosmos" and "psyche." What could be more outer than cosmos? What more inner than psyche? Are they not informed by fundamentally different kinds of principles, the one objective, the other subjective?
But developments in many fields, from depth psychology to philosophy of science, now oblige us to recognize that cosmos and psyche are in fact deeply intertwined. Our understanding of the universe affects every aspect of our interior life from our highest spiritual convictions to our most intimate daily experience. Conversely, the deep dispositions of our interior life fully permeate and configure our understanding of the entire cosmos.
The limits of our cosmological imagination define the limits of our existence: Do we live in a disenchanted, mechanistic, purposeless universe as a randomly produced oddity of isolated consciousness, or do we participate in a living cosmos of unfolding meaning and purpose?
On Friday evening, drawing on the insights of Jung and others, we will explore the evolution of the modern world-view and the forging of the modern self, which have affected everything from contemporary religion and psychotherapy to U.S. foreign policy and the global ecological crisis.
On Saturday, we will deepen this analysis while also addressing three overlapping topics: the nature of archetypes as that concept has evolved from Plato to Jung and beyond; Jung’s concept of synchronicity, which challenged the disenchanted world view and became a major focus of his own psychospiritual practice; and the categories of "masculine" and "feminine," taking into account the more complex nature of those terms and of the human psyche than the simple classical polarity suggested.
Richard Tarnas is professor of philosophy and psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where he teaches archetypal studies and the history of Western thought and culture. He was the founding director of the Ph.D. and Master’s program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. He also teaches on the faculty of the Pacifica Graduate Institute. He is the author of The Passion of the Western Mind, a narrative history of the Western world view from the ancient Greek to the postmodern. His next book,Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, will be published this November by Viking.