Philosophy, Richard Tarnas, and Postmodernism


  Richard  Tarnas


1.      Holistic  Confusion

2.      Richard Tarnas and the Passion

3.      The  Kantian  Cordon

4.      Official  Death  of  Metaphysics

5.      Romanticism  and  Nietzsche

6.      Crisis  of  Modern  Science

7.      The  Postmodern  New  Age

8.      Jung  and  Pseudo-Metaphysics

9.      Postmodern  Relativism  and  Wikipedia

10.    Negotiating  Contractions  in  Academe

11.    Avoiding  a  Neo-Jungian  Hazard

12.    Findhorn  Foundation  Holistic  Censorship

13.    CIIS  and  Astrology


I.  Holistic  Confusion

Many entries on this website comprise critical treatments of alternative or "new age" thought. That form of thinking first arose in America during the 1960s, though speedily being transplanted to other countries, including Britain. There was an obsessive anti-establishment mood, and new cliches such as "higher states of consciousness." The advocates of this alternativism saw themselves as pioneers of a new world era, with peace and love being widely aired as characteristic traits.

Much of the enthusiasm was inspired by the vogue for cannabis and LSD. The extremist academics Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert created a bizarre lore about expanding consciousness, and were influential in the psychedelic vogue for Oriental religions. Their version did not impress many scholars of Buddhism and Hinduism (including Vedanta). Meanwhile, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi achieved an opportunistic celebration of Transcendental Meditation, a bestselling novelty which claimed the Beatles as some of the fans. Such trends had a transient aspect, leaving many disillusioned persons wondering what was really happening.

Many gurus benefited from the new mood of alternativism. At first they were all treated as renaissance angels of the American Dream. Eventually a number of these entities revealed some very disconcerting tendencies. Sathya Sai Baba (d.2011) became a focus of controversy, claiming to be a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba (d.1918). Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (d.1990) became notorious as a consequence of his therapy ashram at Poona and his commune in Oregon (his example was remote from Hazrat Babajan, the faqir of Poona who lived in a different era; also, Meher Baba, an Irani Zoroastrian born at Poona, was not in the same category, although afflicted by Paul Brunton; the Meher Baba movement has different presentations, and see Update). However, the Eastern faction became substantially outnumbered by the Western claimants to enlightenment, healing, empowerment, integration, and other diverse presumptions.

California became the seedbed of notorious enthusiasms, cults, and lunacies. During the 1970s, almost any fad could quickly succeed in becoming a popular commercial attraction. New "therapies" became legion, and the word "workshop" became identified with entrepreneurial new age excursions into supposed "higher consciousness."

The commercial offerings of the Esalen Institute were very influential, with the critics being in perpetual wonderment at the consumption of doubtful activities and crazes. One of the most influential entities at Esalen was Dr. Stanislav Grof, a resident for many years during the 70s and 80s. His theories about psychedelic experience and hyperventilation are not accepted in conventional medical quarters. See further Grof Therapy and MAPS on this website.

Such books of Grof as LSD Psychotherapy (1980) aroused enthusiasm in Esalen circles, but strong queries as to validity in other sectors. Grof's subsequent book The Adventure of Self-Discovery (1988) amounted to a promotion of his new therapy Holotropic Breathwork, which was commercially administered via the auspices of Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. Some investigators were very critical as to why that book was published by SUNY (State University of New York).

The Findhorn Foundation was the major point of entry for the Esalen enthusiasms into Britain, a trend facilitated by the affluence of the 1980s and an international list of subscribers susceptible to entrepreneurial workshops.The apparent success of Stanislav Grof's trademark "therapy" of Holotropic Breathwork during the period 1989-1993, at the Findhorn Foundation, masked suspicious events and casualties that were covered up at every step by those in charge of the promotionalism.

I have related in other articles (and epistles) on this website how the Holotropic Breathwork problem was more realistically diagnosed outside the Foundation. An expert in forensic medicine at Edinburgh University was fortunately resistant to Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. The expensive "workshops" were nevertheless invested by believers with an aura of unassailable authority, meaning the pronouncements of Dr. Grof, who was also the promoter of "LSD psychotherapy."

In general, the "workshop" innovators often assumed "holistic" expertise, and some referred to the holistic movement. These presumed experts claimed intuitive abilities, healing powers, ecological prowess, skill in resolving conflicts, shamanistic faculties, esoteric wisdom, self-development proficiency, and indeed numerous other variants of the suspect enthusiasm. Critics remained unmoved, investigating what the holistic exemplars actually did and how much money they charged.

As a conglomerate trend, these parties claimed a form of dynamic spiritual education sufficient to change the world. This myth has been ongoing until the present day. Phrases like "personal and spiritual transformation" are ubiquitous in the sectors to which they appeal, but the evidence of accomplishment is far more difficult to find.

Some analysts of the phenomenon concluded that the "new age" developments basically represented the response of persons who desired a form of alternative religion to Christianity, which was increasingly viewed as an inadequate doctrine. Others say that, although this theory appears to have an element of truth, there is the problem involved of two basic new age contingents: the affluent clientele and the entrepreneurial "experts." The affluent clientele in Western countries clearly do want a different doctrine to that found in traditional religion, but they are misled by the innovators in workshops, fads, and "holistic" lore.

The nominally holistic enthusiasts have often depreciated traditional education (in schools and universities) as being inferior and anti-intuitive. Many of them have decried analysis and critical appraisal as evils. Science is particularly abhorred in their ranks, although scholarship is also ridiculed as being irrelevant. The sense of history in some alternative circles has been so vestigial that records of recent events do not exist. Except, that is, amongst the critics who have reasons for strong objection to disconcerting "holistic" codes.

Traditional philosophy is another target of the alternativism. The former is accused of being based on logic and analysis, which are supposedly anti-holistic and therefore to be discounted. The reasoning involved in some of these verdicts has been considered almost beyond belief by close assessors. In a "holistic" world where there is no due analysis, no real sense of history, and no trained reporting, almost anything suspect can take control. Critics say that this drawback is a more or less daily occurrence in the circles under discussion.

2.  Richard  Tarnas  and  the  Passion

There have been extensions of the alternativism that are more literate than the generality. Some "new age academics" have contributed theories which are articulate, but which are nevertheless in doubt elsewhere. For instance, Professor Richard Tarnas authored the widely read book The Passion of the Western Mind (1991), which includes a review of modern Western philosophy, though accompanied by a theme of contemporary "epochal transformation" (p. xii). The message is that Copernican astronomy, the metaphysics of Rene Descartes (1596-1650), and Kantian epistemology were milestones en route to the contemporary spiritual alienation. More specifically, those three developments are described in terms of "a threefold mutually enforced prison of modern alienation" (The Passion of the Western Mind, repr.: London: Pimlico, 1996, p. 419).

Descartes is a familiar target of other alternativists like Fritjof Capra, and his due context will not be found in the American new age. The despised "Cartesian-Newtonian" paradigm has more detail in the old age versions. See the bibliography in my Rene Descartes, Philosopher and Scientist (2010). There are different versions of what he believed. Descartes certainly represented a transient phase in physics, but had a more enduring influence in the vivisection horrors attaching to biology, zoology, and medical science. See Animal Ethics, Animal Rights.

The basic complaint broached by Tarnas in his controversial Epilogue amounts to: "The world revealed by modern science has been a world devoid of spiritual purpose, opaque, ruled by chance and necessity, without intrinsic meaning" (Passion, p. 418). A citizen is easily able to agree with that verdict. Yet there are different ways of seeking a solution to the problems involved.

Descartes is rather accusingly assessed in terms of "the crucial midpoint between Copernicus and Kant" (ibid., p. 417). The truth is that Descartes was not an academic professor like Kant, although he was a scientist, and perhaps more of an empiricist than a philosopher. His confusing mechanist doctrine suited the scientific temper of his era in the revolt against religious dogmas. According to some writers, Descartes was ideologically eliminated by Kantian empirical reasoning, along with others whom Tarnas barely mentions in the alienation theory. Descartes was really the midpoint between Bacon and Spinoza, the latter being almost invisible in Passion.

Some said that Tarnas was rivalling the popular book by Capra entitled The Turning Point (1982), which more aggressively downgraded traditional philosophy in favour of a purportedly holistic approach, in this instance a version of systems theory. Capra was noticeably benign towards Grof LSD theory, and his general attitude was symptomatic in several respects of Esalen "progressivism." Cf. Capra, The Hidden Connections (2002), which makes no mention of Grof, instead favouring Anthony Giddens and Jurgen Habermas as reference points (ibid., pp. 67ff.).

The Tarnas version of Western philosophy is comparatively amiable, though not by any means complete. He commences with a brief version of early Greek exemplars, culminating in Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The distinctions between Aristotle and Plato are drawn, and some credit is given to both, in which respect "we find a certain elegant balance and tension between empirical analysis and spiritual intuition, a dynamic beautifully rendered in Raphael's Renaissance masterpiece The School of Athens" (Tarnas, Passion, p. 68). The supra-aesthetic dimensions of the polarity involved were fairly extensive in the literature of Arabic-speaking philosophical repertories, although Tarnas does not pursue this angle.

The Stoics and Neoplatonists receive rather less profile, and Plotinus gains only two pages, and of a generalised nature. Further, the Muslim falasifa are missing, although this is a common failing in presentations of Western thought (despite the fact that Ibn Rushd was active in Spain). The Christian Schoolmen come under review, with the lion's share of attention falling to Aquinas. Roger Bacon is only fleetingly mentioned. A chapter on the Renaissance is followed by others on the Scientific Revolution, the favoured subjects here being Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler, and with reference to Isaac Newton. The accompanying "philosophical revolution" is treated in terms of Francis Bacon and Descartes, which is a basically conventional view.

Tarnas appropriately observes that philosophy in the classical era "had held a largely autonomous position as definer and judge of the literate culture's world view" (ibid., p. 272). Yet in the medieval period, Christianity replaced that autonomy, "while philosophy took on a subordinate role in the joining of faith to reason" (ibid.). In contrast, the modern period saw philosophy transfer to science and "establish itself as a more fully independent force in the intellectual life of the culture" (ibid.).

For whatever reason, Tarnas makes only very fleeting reference to Spinoza, whose ideological trajectory has elsewhere been viewed as significant, despite the enigmatic nature of some components (cf. Shepherd, Baruch Spinoza, Rationalist Philosopher). Indeed, there is very little information supplied in Passion about Leibniz also, giving the impression that such pre-Kantian thinkers were of small relevance. In contrast, there are rather more substantial allocations granted to Freud and Jung, reflecting the contemporary preoccupation with a type of psychology. The theories of C. G. Jung have created much confusion, but Tarnas is clearly an enthusiast, not a critic in that direction. The word archetype is generously listed in the index of Passion to a degree quite overshadowing a fair number of philosophers.

3.  The  Kantian  Cordon

A section entitled "Self-Critique of the Modern Mind" dwells upon John Locke (1632-1704), Bishop Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Tarnas observes differences between the British empirical tradition and Continental rationalism of the seventeenth century. The former was triumphant over the latter, but the complexities of "Enlightenment" transition are more acute than is generally stated, especially with the Kantian factor attached.

Locke opted for the immediacy of sensory experience, being influenced by the empiricism of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and the Royal Society. The provocative idealism of George Berkeley (1685-1753) has been variously classified as empiricist and Cartesian. Tarnas comments that "in effect, while Locke had reduced all mental contents to an ultimate basis in sensation, Berkeley now further reduced all sense data to mental contents" (Passion, p. 335).

The scepticism of David Hume (1711-76) early opposed the idealism of Berkeley. The theory here moved back to sense impressions. More radically, Hume "concluded that the mind itself was only a bundle of disconnected perceptions, with no valid claims to substantial unity, continuous existence, or internal coherence, let alone to objective knowledge" (ibid., p. 340; cf. Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, pp. 224-38, for a critical version of Hume). A form of extreme scepticism was expressed by Hume, who was inclined to deny the validity of inductive reasoning.

The outlook of Hume has been subject to varying shades of interpretation. He can be credited with a genuine interest in psychology, though his rudimentary version is in question. In his Treatise on Human Nature (1739-40), he stated that "reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions." This hedonistic assertion does not necessarily follow from his more credible deduction that emotion (or desire), and not reason, governed human behaviour. Due reason has to be cultivated, and should not be a slave.

Hume was blocked from obtaining the Chair of Logic at Glasgow University. He was charged with atheistic heresy, though he was acquitted. Yet if "labelling Hume as an 'atheist' is misleading," he was certainly very critical of religion. Quote from Paul Russell, Hume on Religion (2005). With regard to scientific implications, Bertrand Russell complained that Hume "arrives at the disastrous conclusion that from experience and observation nothing is to be learnt" (History of Western Philosophy, second edn 1961, p. 645).

l to r: David  Hume, Immanuel  Kant

Tarnas goes into more detail with Kant, who is effectively his major reference point in philosophy during the modern period. Kant was concerned to offset Hume's scepticism, but at the same time was influenced by that negativity. He strongly believed in Newtonian science, but in assimilating Hume, he transited from what some describe as the German rationalism associated with Leibniz. "His solution was to satisfy the claims of both Hume and Newton" (Passion, p. 342). That assessment may be considered correct, though Kant does not gain full profile in the neo-Jungian version.

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) was composed in the academic milieu, unlike earlier philosophical works. There is the unventuresome insistence in the Critique that anything not apprehended by sensory impressions cannot be experienced. Kant thus fell in line with Humean scepticism, and may himself have been more of a sceptic than is often believed. He stated:

"The principles resulting from this highest principle of pure reason will, however, be transcendent in relation to all appearances, that is to say, it will be impossible to make any adequate empirical use of this principle" (Critique of Pure Reason, ed. V. Politis, London: Dent, 1934; repr. 1993, p. 241).

This pedagogic angle meant that the world of phenomena is the only field of possible knowledge; in contrast, the noumenal or "transcendental" world is not accessible to human experience. "The end result of his [Kant's) critical labours may seem to resemble Hume's skepticism" (Manfred Kuehn, Kant: A Biography, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 246).

Views have differed as to the extent of Kant's Christian bias; he was apparently far more of an Enlightenment intellectual than anything pietist. He relied solely on rational criteria in his writings. "It was clear to anyone who knew Kant personally that he had no faith in a personal God; having postulated God and immortality, he himself did not believe in either" (ibid., p. 3). One could perhaps connect that psychology with the basic message of his critical philosophy:

"God, immortality, and other such metaphysical matters could never become phenomena; they were not empirical; metaphysics, therefore, was beyond the powers of human reason" (Passion, p. 341).

Religious faith was left free in this argument. It was only "pure reason" of the deceased gentlemanly amateurs that was sent to ideological jail by the academic professor. One of those amateurs (Spinoza) was a heretical Jew, still largely subterranean when Kant wrote his Critique.

In a subsequent work, The Critique of Practical Reason (1788), Kant was committed to morality. His moral philosophy implies that "morality is the exclusive domain of reason"; the second Critique was one in which "from the point of view of traditional theology, Kant turned things upside down" (Kuehn, op. cit., pp. 312, 314). Yet this was a purely rational exercise, and mysticism was debunked.

"Kant affirms that even the Stoics went astray in proclaiming 'virtue' as being fully attainable in the present life of the wise man.... In Kant's view, holiness cannot be attained by any creature.... Plato is duly castigated for having entertained an 'extravagant pretension' to a 'theory of the supersensible' " (Shepherd, Meaning in Anthropos, 1991, p. 147).

Greek philosophy was curtailed by the modern academic syllabus. Yet Kant's secular morality was commendable, and he is much superior to Hume, Nietzsche, and various others on that score. His Groundwork of the Metaphyiscs of Morals (1785) demonstrates a convergence with Cicero (the Stoic), and furthermore opposed class biases (Kant was the son of an artisan). "Any attempt to defend or justify social differences by appealing to morals must be rejected as well; the conservative status quo must be challenged" (Kuehn, op. cit., p. 282).

Kant pursued an a priori ideal of pure reason in the moral sphere, and contrasting with the earlier pure reason of Leibniz and his predecessors (relating to metaphysics). Kant's ideal emerged in the form of what he called (in German) the categorical imperative, meaning "the unconditional command of morality," even though his Enlightenment reasoning imposed a belief that "the ultimate condition of the possibility of morality cannot be understood" (ibid., p. 286). Again perhaps a rather cordoning conceptualism, and the entire presentation marked by a notoriously convoluted style of expression.

"Everyone finds his writing difficult; it is nearly always obscure, and sometimes it borders on the impenetrable.... his work, even after two hundred years, is still unknown territory to most educated people.... he [Kant] is widely regarded by serious students of philosophy as the greatest philosopher since the ancient Greeks" (Bryan Magee, The Great Philosophers, Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 185-186).

Yet despite his moral worth and academic intensity, the cordoning and empirical Kant is not particularly enviable for his situation of mental confinement to sensory impressions. By 1777 he was a hypochondriac worried about his constipation. Moreover, "Kant felt that it was ultimately the obstructions of the bowels that caused distractedness and periods of confused thinking from which he was beginning to suffer. These complaints, though comical-sounding, made his life quite miserable" (Kuehn, op. cit., p. 239).

In contrast to some citizen complaints, the cameo by Tarnas is relatively indifferent to contrasts in career background. Professor Tarnas writes in an academic idiom which neglects to emphasise that Kant was the first major philosopher to fill a professorial role, though he does usefully indicate that in later generations, the academic pursuit of philosophy tended to become circumscribed and largely unintelligible to citizens.

For any citizen philosopher to stand up and contest circumscribed and unintelligible matters today, the effort could too easily amount to being erased from Wikipedia by a "postmodern" strategy of pseudonymous cult supporters assisted by an officious (if anonymous) academic specialist in plant biology, the latter explicitly ignorant of (and disinterested in) the issues at stake. The sympathetic academic philosopher (Simon Kidd), who contested this censoring decision (using his real name), was outvoted by web anonymity. This point is actually demonstrable to readers via recorded occurrences expunged by the Wikipedia administrative system. See Wikipedia Anomalies and Wikipedia Misinformation. Suppression did not end with the Spanish Inquisition, and to some extent, cordon is now an American speciality, rather than a Eurocentric one.

4.  Official  Death  of  Metaphysics

The ingenious reasoning of Kant argued that "although one could not know that God exists, one must nevertheless believe he exists in order to act morally" (Tarnas, Passion, p. 349). Professor Kant was a liberator by comparison with later strictures. A long list of celebrated names is given in this trend, which had the effect of "altogether eliminating the grounds for subjective certainty still felt by Kant" (ibid., p. 351). Not merely the radicals Marx and Nietzsche, but academics like Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Levi-Strauss, Foucault, Popper, Quine, and Kuhn. This process led to the postmodernist view that underlying principles of experience are not absolute and timeless, but "varied fundamentally in different eras, different cultures, different classes, different languages" (ibid.), and so forth. Still at issue is whether such views can be relied upon as an accurate judge of reality, which is not necessarily determined or negated by prestigious rank, influential radicalism, and paradigm shifts.

Yet at first, there were idealist responses to the Kantian conceptualism. German thinkers, most notably Georg W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), "constructed a metaphysical system with a universal Mind revealing itself through man" (ibid., p. 351). A big drawback here was the Eurocentric tendency of Hegelian theory, which is arguably not the best point of departure for what might escape the ring of sensory impressions favoured by the sceptics. Hegel was an elite professorial entity with a verbose dialectic that did not create the most readable corpus in the history of philosophy. "Often Hegel's historical judgments seemed peremptory, his political and religious implications ambiguous, his language and style perplexing" (ibid., p. 382).

Nevertheless, and to his credit, Hegel did inspire "a renascence of classical and historical studies from an Idealist perspective" (ibid., p. 381). It was the last renaissance, as academic philosophy thereafter contracted into contentment with the minutiae of language and conceptualism well known in twentieth century works. Metaphysics was dead, having been dismissed according to standards of the prevalent laziness and convenience in psychological endeavour, a situation ideal for someone like Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), whose private life was a problem often criticised. The academic commentary states that:

"As philosophy became more technical, more concerned with methodology, and more academic, and as philosophers increasingly wrote not for the public but for each other, the discipline of philosophy lost much of its former relevance and importance for the intelligent layperson, and thus much of its former cultural power" (ibid., p. 354).

5.  Romanticism  and  Nietzsche

Meanwhile, another trend had been operative. According to Tarnas, Romanticism was the polar complement to the Scientific Revolution, both sharing common roots in the Renaissance, though the former enthused about aspects of experience suppressed by the eighteenth century Enlightenment. German and British names figure prominently in the list of Romantic exponents, from Goethe and Herder to Blake and Byron. "While the scientist sought truth that was testable and concretely effective, the Romantic sought truth that was inwardly transfiguring and sublime" (ibid., p. 367). There were idiosyncrasies in both camps, and some lunacies in Romantic ranks, which is a citizen observation.

Friedrich  Nietzsche

The Tarnas account describes Nietzsche (1844-1900) as a Romantic. There is strong scope for disagreement in the sense of eulogy afforded. Tarnas describes the subject in terms of "a uniquely powerful synthesis of titanic Romantic spiritual passion and the most radical strain of Enlightenment skepticism" (ibid., p. 370). This verdict represents the excessive academic enthusiasm that is quite often found. It is much easier to credit that "in Nietzsche, as in Romanticism generally, the philosopher became poet" (ibid., p. 371).

Nietzschean concepts such as the" superman" and "will to power" reveal a basic confusion that need not be ascribed to Romanticism but to the peculiar psychology of the subject. In particular, the elitist complex of Nietzsche is expressed in passages that require due critical assessment. For Nietzsche, the violence of Napoleon was preferable to the supposed herd instinct for less damaging manifestations of social deportment. His contempt for the Indian untouchables became known to reserved Indologists. In citizen terms, he was an elitist prig living in an academic situation of privilege that knew no sympathy for the working man and outcastes.

The elitism of Nietzsche was of an acute and very objectionable type; this was not the usual class bias at all, but instead a "superman" power complex of manic dimensions. Nietzsche opposed religious and secular morality and glorified the instincts, perhaps because he had visited a brothel and there got into trouble; the aristocratic and bourgeois dimensions of license do not validate caste society. His stigma of "slave morality" can be strongly contested.

"The Nietzschean will to power frowned upon four main contingents of slave morality: Christianity, the tradition of secular morality associated with Kant and other German philosophers, Socratic and related Greek philosophical traditions, and the herd morality of the unprivileged masses. The Indian untouchables were included in the stigma in his Twilight of the Idols (1889), in which caste tactics were approved by the atrocious nihilist. Living on a university pension, he [Nietzsche] had no sympathy for, or conscience about, the plight of so many persons less well placed than himself.... There are some pedagogues who blandly equate Nietzsche with Socrates in a theme of 'archetypal sacrifice' initiating epochal transformations in the history of the Western mind." (Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, pp. 244-5).

The last sentence abovecited refers to the archetypalism of Richard Tarnas (cf. Passion of the Western Mind, p. 395). The archetypal exegesis may be said to illustrate the extreme confusions created by Jungian and related theory. Nietzsche tragically became insane in his last years. Critics have implied that he was psychologically maladjusted, and dangerous in his views, rather than being any kind of viable philosopher. Some lenient critics say that his early writing is of interest, though his later "oracular" works are disconcerting. "The bite of conscience is indecent," wrote Nietzsche, and such assertions are not to be commended.

In a discussion of relevance, Professor J. P. Stern (an expert on the subject) stated that Nietzsche "is most emphatically not a democratic philosopher." This judgment was explicitly in agreement with the description supplied by Professor Bryan Magee: "He [Nietzsche] believed... that the individual great man, the hero, should be a law unto himself, should not be hamstrung by consideration for lesser mortals, and still less by petty rules and regulations" (Dialogue with J.P. Stern, in Magee, The Great Philosophers, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 237).

Discrepantly perhaps, the brief Tarnas chapter entitled "At the Millenium" selects the figure of Max Weber (1864-1920) along with Nietzsche, Jung, and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) as suitable indicators of the contemporary epochal transformation denoted. There are marked differences between Weber and the other three, e.g., Nietzsche, Jung, and Heidegger are all associated with Nazism in different ways (and in controversial arguments), unlike the sociologist Weber. Tarnas does not mention this less romantic factor. Instead he approvingly cites (Passion, p. 413) from Thus Spake Zarathustra, the "Romantic" novel by Nietzsche that has no relation to the ancient Iranian prophet of Zoroastrianism. Tarnas does not make any distinction between that literary curiosity and Iranian religion, as his index reveals. Perhaps the envisaged epochal transition will lead to insanity and/or the neglect of due knowledge about the history of religion.

"Our moment in history is indeed a pregnant one" says Tarnas on the same page as his quote from Thus Spake. Abortion is a common resort in the decadent "postmodern" society, and so even the archetypal moment may transpire to represent miscarriage rather than birth. The "boldness, depth, and clarity of vision" evoked in the same passage may decode to total blindness induced by social and pedagogical misconstructions.

In his preface to Passion, Tarnas says that "today the Western mind appears to be undergoing an epochal transformation, of a magnitude perhaps comparable to any in our civilisation's history" (ibid., p. xii). Other analysts are inclined to view contemporary tendencies in terms of a potential breakdown of civilisation, accompanied by climate change (which is not the only problem). Due education, and ecological rectification, are not realistically in sight.

Tarnas does qualify his reflection by stating his belief that "we can participate intelligently in that transformation only to the extent to which we are historically informed" (ibid.). Historical information is not the same as Romantic sentiment or hero mythology, and may even belie aspects of Enlightenment scepticism. The elusive contemporary transformation has not so far survived due analysis.

6.  Crisis  of  Modern  Science

The Passion is more convincing in describing the "crisis of modern science," and some remarks are quite graphic. The "classical Cartesian-Newtonian cosmology" collapsed as a consequence of fresh discoveries in physics, and further problems of interpretation arose.

"By the end of the third decade of the twentieth century, virtually every major postulate of the earlier scientific conception had been controverted.... The solid Newtonian atoms were now discovered to be largely empty.... Matter and energy were interchangeable. Three-dimensional space and unidimensional time had become relative aspects of a four-dimensional space-time continuum. Time flowed at different rates for observers moving at different speeds. Time slowed down near heavy objects, and under certain circumstances could stop altogether. The laws of Euclidean geometry no longer provided the universally necessary structure of nature.... There was now no coherent conception of the world, comparable to Newton's Principia, that could theoretically integrate the complex variety of new data. Physicists failed to come to any consensus as to how the existing evidence should be interpreted with respect to defining the ultimate nature of reality" (ibid., pp. 356-8).

The mood of relativism (and scepticism) that gained currency by the 1970s reacted to the dependency upon belief in science. The crux of the matter is that scientists do not know the nature of reality, while academic philosophers have failed to explain this unknown priority in ongoing or assimilable terms. Attempts to do so are often discredited or regarded as totally hypothetical. The postmodernist resort to forms of relativism is no proof of competence.

Meanwhile, the technological offspring of science continue to exploit nature to a degree that is generally concealed. Genetic engineering is only one of the offensive manifestations of incompetence and commercial enterprise.

7.  The  Postmodern  New  Age

The Tarnas version of postmodernism says that this phenomenon "varies considerably according to context" (ibid., p. 395). Ingredients are described as ranging from "pragmatism, existentialism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis to feminism, hermeneutics, deconstruction, and postempiricist philosophy of science" (ibid.). These are academic trends, of course; the public are generally fed with commercial entertainment, and usually have no cognisance of the ideational influences at work in society. Yet the academic resorts are often flawed, with "a perspectivism rooted in the epistemologies developed by Hume, Kant, Hegel (in his historicism), and Nietzsche" (ibid., p. 397).

The "postmodern" problem of scepticism is stated to be strongly influenced by the analysis of language, with many contributing sources such as Nietzsche, Peirce, Ferdinand de Saussure, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Foucault. Strong criticism can be levelled at some of these influences, and even more so perhaps, at the deconstructionism of Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), described in terms of "challenging the attempt to establish a secure meaning in any text" (ibid., p. 398). The general postmodernist conceptualism is described in terms of "applying a systematic skepticism to every possible meaning" (ibid., p. 399).

More pointedly, the target of postmodern aspersions is the Western philosophical tradition since Plato. "The whole project of that tradition to grasp and articulate a foundational Reality has been criticised as a futile exercise in linguistic game playing, a sustained but doomed effort " (ibid., p. 400).

The present writer contributed a web entry on Derrida that included reference to the opposition in academic ranks. The friction in viewpoint is obviously relevant to dwell upon, contrary to some accounts which do not mention the opposition. My basic view on deconstruction is one of strong resistance. If there are no secure meanings in texts (however the contention is worded), deconstructionist texts may also be insecure, or for that matter all academic texts. Truth values are so elusive in the general postmodernist ideology that anything is at best only personal or cultural taste, and quite relative to any permanent achievement.

In the current deceptive climate, one could almost be relieved to hear that "there is no 'postmodern world view,' nor the possibility of one; the postmodern paradigm is by its nature fundamentally subversive of all paradigms" (ibid., p. 401).

There is, of course, a catch here. Twenty years later, the subversive paradigm is now extensive. Furthermore, postmodernism discernibly includes (however indirectly) the "new age" contingents and cults, which thrive in the general ignorance and confusion. Tarnas does not say this, instead commenting that "there remain few, if any, a priori strictures on the possible, and many perspectives from the past have reemerged with new relevance" (ibid., p. 403). He refers to forms of intellectualism, Romanticism, and of Eastern and Western religion, including "Neolithic European" and "Gnosticism and the major esoteric traditions."

Tarnas does not mention the extreme confusions caused by this new wave of the supposedly antique. He was writing during the 1980s, at a time when, for instance, the Rajneesh sect was demonstrating strong antisocial tendencies in Oregon, a retrogressive feat accompanied by alternative therapy and the exaltation of Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra (favoured by Rajneesh), which had become a cult fad of presumed supermen. According to an American sociologist, "Rajneesh's vision of the new man was based upon Nietzsche's ideal of the individual who is absolutely free of the constraints of family, church, governments, and cultures" (Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, p. 62, and citing Professor Lewis Carter).

We are told by Tarnas that "the postmodern collapse of meaning has thus been countered by an emerging awareness of the individual's self-responsibility and capacity for creative innovation and self-transformation in his or her existential and spiritual response to life" (Passion, p. 404). This may indeed be an advance upon nihilism, but there are pronounced drawbacks to the enthusiasms. I have seen the word transformation enticingly employed so many times during the last forty years that my response has long been one of nausea at the persistent assumption denoted. Far too many deluded cult recruits have believed they were transformed; alternative therapists have exploited that belief to a staggering extent in another sphere; the "creative innovation" has included ecobiz and numerous other doubtful capitalist ruses.

The "postmodernist" themes are said to have rooted in social sciences and the humanities, in America and other countries. Many academic philosophers do not appear to subscribe to those themes. Indeed, the year after Passion of the Western Mind was published, in 1992 a petition of disapproval was filed by eminent international Professors against Derrida, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent his gaining further honorary credentials. The academic situation is far more complex than some generalising accounts imply. For instance, in Britain, analytical philosophy has often been resistant to the Continental "poststructuralism" associated with Derrida and Foucault. Not merely the despised metaphysical matters, but also science and scholarship, are said to be at issue in the extreme arguments propounded.

There is a rather monotonous postmodernist theme that objective truths are a myth, only local beliefs being in evidence. Scientists have understandably reacted to such undermining insistences. See Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science (1998), which repudiates the idea that science amounts to social construction, i.e., meaning something improvised and equivalent to myth. See also Sokal, Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2008). A basic point made is that scientific discovery occurs across local and relative social and linguistic boundaries, the databank thus amounting to something that is substantially real and objective.

By extension, there may well be philosophical (and even metaphysical) truths that are similarly elusive of the "local belief" lore. The necessary "universalist" endeavour is currently in low profile. What is largely visible instead is the popular "new age" of presumed metaphysical relevance, in which science and scholarship are frequently dismissed as distractions, while philosophy is regarded as a folly of superfluous logic (indirect or partial convergences with academic postmodernism do exist, therefore). The degree of knowledge about the past is often nil, or nearly so. The commercial "workshop" is very often the ideal in sectors prone to entrepreneurial exploitation, which manipulates factors of emotion and belief.

8.  Jung  and  Pseudo-Metaphysics

One of the most celebrated and confusing writers in the twentieth century was Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961). His views have been copied and regurgitated in countless formats, to the extent that he has been described as the virtual founder of the new age. Yet Richard Tarnas is one of the votaries, a position quite evident from statements made in Passion; he had evidently become a believer in the view that "archetypes" govern mental functioning. Moreover, the underlying tendency of that author's exposition is perhaps revealed by his reflection concerning a "Romantically influenced science," where he adds that "the most enduring and seminal proved to be the depth psychology of Freud and Jung, both deeply influenced by the stream of German Romanticism that flowed from Goethe through Nietzsche" (Passion, p. 384; cf. Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, pp. 23-38, for a critical version of Jung).

Of the two celebrity names in psychology here elevated, Jung was far closer to Nietzsche. There are some other factors also involved.

"With his philosophical grounding in the Kantian critical tradition rather than in Freud's more conventional rationalist materialism, Jung was compelled to admit that his psychology could have no necessary metaphysical implications. It is true that Jung's granting the status of empirical phenomena to psychological reality was itself a major step past Kant, for he thereby gave substance to 'internal' experience as Kant had to 'external' experience" (Tarnas, Passion of the Western Mind, p. 386).

The non-metaphysical psychology became a pervasive "metaphysical" resort of the postmodern new age, via hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of overnight experts on the garbled lore of "collective unconscious." The popular reception of this lore was catastrophic for public discernment of tangible events in process.

9.  Postmodern  Relativism  and  Wikipedia

In more academic sectors, the Jungian speculations were paralleled by strong relativist accents that have also been strikingly influential. Tarnas expresses a confusing version of the converging doctrines and opinions:

"The postmodern philosopher's recognition of the inherently metaphorical nature of philosophical and scientific statements (Feyerabend, Barbour, Rorty) has been both affirmed and more precisely articulated with the postmodern psychologist's insight into the archetypal categories of the unconscious that condition and structure human experience and cognition" (Passion, p. 405).

The basic theme here is not convincing, at least to a citizen analyst unmoved by the persuasive confusions in evidence within academic and new age postmodernism. Jung is more well known than the other names mentioned. The philosophers Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) and Richard Rorty (1931-2007) have also been very influential within intellectual circles, especially the former, whose acutely confrontational form of relativism manifested in the philosophy of science. Not everything he said was questionable by any means, but certain flippant emphases and attitudes were and are objectionable. "Anything goes" has more or less become the social norm.

In my first published book, I included a citizen riposte to Feyerabend, and I still deny the underlying drift of his faulty logic (Psychology in Science, 1983, pp. 169ff.; see also The Resurrection of Philosophy, 1989, pp. 45ff.). The argument is not just about science, but about how philosophers think [and the tendency to new age relativism]. Some academics said at the time that they had never known a contemporary citizen to comment in an annotated format upon such matters. The inherently metaphorical nature of some Feyerabendian statements is substantial enough, despite the adulation awarded in some endorsing academic sectors.

I should state here that I did defend the empirical relevance of scientific method against certain nuances of Feyerabend's epistemological anarchism. There were also social factors involved in the loaded argument. For instance:

"Feyerabend advocates a 'Free Society' in which anything goes in the commitment to universal standards, and in which science is treated as being of no more importance than any other subject or approach. In contrast, I maintain that we already have an open society in which virtually anything goes, to the detriment of true freedom and truly universal standards" (Psychology in Science, p. 169).

Nearly thirty years later, the so-called free society (at least in Britain) is far more unrestrained and violent, with confusions mounting about what is most real or most valuable. Big business dictates what goes (and what sells), and more so even than the postmodernist innovators.

Some academics noticed a comment in one of the annotations to the book abovecited:

"I cannot say that I disagree with everything Feyerabend says, but if Feyerabend can instate such axioms as a Professor of Philosophy at a well known university in California, then I can state that I am quite content to be considered an ordinary member of the public in Cambridge" (ibid., p. 191 note 285).

The American neopragmatism of Richard Rorty has been considered confusing by critics, science and reason gaining a relativist complexion in his theory of life. "No area of culture, and no period of history, gets Reality more right than any other." Truth is elusive in such formulations. In a well known web video, Rorty states, "the less certainty we have, the better," though such an impoverishment is not considered desirable by everyone. Of course, certainty in some instances does transpire to be unfounded. However, philosophers and others should be more enlightened than yob society, which thrives upon uncertainties about justice.

So the postmodernist event has been unfolding in academic and popular circles, with heretics (and conservative Professors) being in opposition to the high priests. All areas of culture are the same (if we believe Rorty et al) with regard to Reality. One popular manifestation of "postmodernism" is therefore the riot of errors and reductionisms visible in too many Wikipedia articles, especially those concerning religion. The vast majority of the editors and administrators of that controversial project are anonymous, assuming exotic and insipid pseudonyms reflecting the evasive spirit of the American web that dominates the world. The concealed entities evidently do not wish to be countermanded for any of their mistakes, including their support for cultic confusions that have been documented in their dismissal and repression of citizen argument (a number of the Wikipedia pseudonymous personnel are known to be academic entities of rather varying background). See also section 3 above.

10.  Negotiating  Contractions  in  Academe

It is possible to view Western philosophy in a manner that is not fashionable amongst the diverse postmodernists, who sceptically evict the science of Descartes, the morality of Kant, and the metaphysics (and political thought) of Spinoza. The polymathy of Leibniz is quite beyond most contemporary aptitudes. In brief, philosophy was adversely mutated by twentieth century developments which still chewed the cud of Hume's scepticism. The major pre-Kantian philosophers were not academics (though Hume tried to become one), and the Continental "Rationalists" eschewed the scepticism deriving from Montaigne and other sources. The much later Continental academic wave, now so famous and influential, were the polar reverse of their origins.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a marginalised thinker who objected to the increasingly academic operation of philosophy, but his independent voice was at the fringe of contested events.

"It was not until the 20th century that nearly all outstanding philosophers were academics. This professionalisation of philosophy was sharply criticised early on by Schopenhauer as being bad for the subject, and has always been controversial, but it is now institutionally entrenched, and seems unlikely to be reversed" (Bryan Magee, The Story of Philosophy, London: Dorling Kindersley, 1998, p. 132).

In the face of monolithic institutionalism, the citizen thinker is not obliged to rest content with crumbs falling from the starvation diets of Heidegger, Derrida, Rorty, Alfred J. Ayer, Gilbert Ryle, and even Wittgenstein. A similar option of independence exists in relation to the alternative and neo-Hegelian format of Ken Wilber (i.e., AQAL and Quantum Theory), though he exists outside academe, or rather within the less officious Integral Institute. Wilber believes that he can incorporate the postmodernist sceptics in his "integral spirituality," which he has also called "integral post-metaphysics." There is a contrasting argument.

The diet of postmodernist Michel Foucault (1926-84) extended to sadomasochistic eroticism in acutely hedonistic environments of California, conferring the ability to contract AIDS, which proved fatal. Academic deportment can sometimes be questioned (Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, pp. 245ff.).

The American postmodern media has overshadowed some other countries, though being keen to assimilate British scepticism, Continental relativism and nihilism, and the more commercial Jungian theory acquired from Europe. The dissenting British intellectual citizen is, in contrast, free to take a different route that can instead feast upon the original pre-Kantian exponents of modern Western philosophy, and the rather substantial legacy of international thought existing before Descartes. The history of science is incorporated in this repast (cf. my Psychology in Science, 1983), and the focus can still probe more recent events in philosophy from Kant onwards. The ongoing history of religions (from prehistoric eras to the present) is a relevant accompaniment for intellectual nutrition (cf. my Minds and Sociocultures Vol. 1, 1995), not least because the contemporary knowledge of that subject is frequently almost nil, as Wikipedia too often demonstrates. Archaeology is an empirical ballast (Shepherd, Meaning in Anthropos, 1991, pp. 77ff., 156). A form of citizen sociology or sociography can also be useful to pursue for due analytical and social health, antagonism to science not being a requisite, save in relation to the extensive technological capitalism and laboratory horrors.

11.  Avoiding  a  Neo-Jungian  Hazard

Such a citizen recourse has the further advantage of bypassing a major obstacle in contemporary neo-Jungian events. That hindrance is demonstrated in the Epilogue to Passion. The main text comprises a review of entities and trends, and the underlying affiliation of Richard Tarnas does not emerge until the closing pages.

"The most epistemologically significant development in the recent history of depth psychology, and indeed the most important advance in the field as a whole since Freud and Jung themselves, has been the work of Stanislav Grof" (Passion, p.425).

There is also the enthusiastic assertion that (neo-Jungian) Grof theory has major implications for philosophy. Readers are further told that "the unexpected upshot of his [Grof's] work was to ratify Jung's archetypal perspective on a new level" (ibid., p. 425). The Tarnas account was celebrated by Grof partisans. The envisaged epochal transformation, strongly indicated in Passion as a contemporary occurrence, has persistent Grofian associations in the new age sector represented by the Esalen Institute of Big Sur, California.

The Tarnas worldview thus demonstrated an underlying orientation in alternativism associated with the controversial Esalen Institute. This is not surprising, given that Tarnas was formerly director of programmes at Esalen, where he lived for ten years, alongside Grof and others. His 1976 Ph.D. thesis was favourably committed to LSD psychotherapy.

In his introduction to The Secret Chief, a web text dating to the 1990s, Stanislav Grof stated: "Particularly valuable and promising were the early efforts to use LSD psychotherapy with terminal cancer patients. These studies showed that LSD was able to relieve severe pain, often even in those patients who had not responded to medication with narcotics. In a large percentage of these patients, it was also possible to alleviate or even eliminate the fear of death, increase the quality of their lives during the remaining days, and positively transform the experience of dying." (The Secret Chief is available at, and is noted for celebrating the illegal activities of an experimenter in LSD therapy).

Critical assessments do not tally with Grof's optimism. Here is a non-partisan report:

"Grof describes how his [terminal cancer] patients, dosed with LSD, 'spent hours in agonising pain, gasping for breath with the colour of their faces changing from dead pale to dark purple. They were rolling on the floor and discharging extreme tensions in muscular tremors, twitches and complex twisting movements.... there was often nausea with occasional vomiting and excessive sweating'.... At Spring Grove Hospital a total of one hundred [terminal cancer] patients were pressed into the LSD torture programme which Grof called 'research,' though criminal license is probably a more scientific description. 'Given that the patients were all deceased within months, no study of the long-term consequences of this therapy was undertaken.... Grof, his many prominent supporters, and the National Institutes of Health, never questioned the ethics of using human subjects in this type of research'." (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, p. 13, and citing an article by E. P. Curry in The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2002).

The psychedelic torture pills are evidently not something to welcome, either in normal states or in severe illness. As an ideological extension, the archetypal theme associated with Jung has been a pervasive alternative resort, employed in very numerous "workshops" for the affluent clientele, many of whom have probably never read Jung in sufficient detail to ascertain the relevance of controversial theories.

Critics of the Tarnas format underlined another emphasis that is not universally agreed upon. Tarnas stated this contention in terms of "the evolution of the Western mind has been founded on the repression of the feminine" (Passion, p. 442). I have already commented upon that neo-Jungian accusation, and to quote: "We are thus presented with a popular idea commercialised at places like the Esalen Institute" (Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, p. 19). The affiliation of Professor Tarnas to philosophy is evidently one strongly influenced by postmodernist exegesis. Another book of Tarnas is Cosmos and Psyche, but that is not under review here.

12.  Findhorn  Foundation  Holistic  Censorship

Esalen themes (and books by Grof and Tarnas) have been influential at "holistic education" centres like the Findhorn Foundation (Moray, Scotland). The present writer is not a stranger to more realistic data concerning the repressed feminine, having been acquainted at firsthand with three female dissidents suppressed and stigmatised by the Findhorn Foundation, and in a manner that can scarcely be forgotten by any diligent researcher. Even legal complaints have made no difference to the severely repressive attitude of the Foundation, who have furthermore attempted in recent solicitor correspondence to deny extant membership details, a fact which goes very much against them. See further Kate Thomas and the Findhorn Foundation and my Letter to Robert Walter MP.

The Findhorn Foundation College (FFC), which proclaims on the web an expertise in "holistic education," is clearly presuming an all-rounded sense of accomplishment. In a recent web ad for a 2010 semester, the Americanised College asserts:

"Integrating academic and experiential learning, the programme is based in the Findhorn Ecovillage, which provides a tangible demonstration of the links between the spiritual, social and economic aspects of life.... Students engage in daily seminars with faculty, experience living education through practical work in the community, and explore themes relevant to our times such as spiritual practice, sustainable and systemic design & thinking, and group process & conflict resolution." (The Human Challenge of Sustainability: Findhorn Community Semester at, accessed 12/06/2010).

This form of alternative operation has to date ignored and suppressed British female dissidents for many years, the ongoing theme of "conflict resolution" being interpreted elsewhere as a convenient facade for funding. The presiding agents in this situation now have the reputation of "new age brahmins," the affirmative caste who never concede errors or wrongs. The adverse reflection is strongly associated with aggressive Americans who tend to assume sovereignty in judgment.

The FFC have been keen to enroll American college students, and advertise some glowing comments from that semester category. For instance, there is the reported phrase: "What went well for me was being treated like a human being with a heart and a soul as well as a mind." Dissidents from the Findhorn Foundation were not even permitted to have a mind, being censored as unworthy of review and suited to oblivion.

One can here mention, by way of complement, that the precedent to the FFC was the ill-fated FCIE (Findhorn College of International Education), a short-lived enterprise of 1996, in which ambitions of the faculty (Foundation personnel) were negated by the situation of enrolled American university students who rebelled against the inadequate "holistic education" administered to them. See further Propaganda Tactics (2008).

An extension of this situation applies to the Scientific and Medical Network, an alternative organisation in England led by David Lorimer, who has promoted Grof and his disciple Christopher Bache. See my Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer (2005).

13.  CIIS  and  Astrology

Meanwhile, Richard Tarnas became Professor of philosophy and psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), which likewise featured Dr. Grof as a member of staff, and to the accompaniment of Grof Transpersonal Training. The books of Dr. Grof continued to emphasise the importance of his holotropic therapy, which he interpreted as "moving toward wholeness." The latter phrase appeared on the cover of his Psychology of the Future (2000).

The second book of Professor Tarnas was Prometheus the Awakener (1995), which celebrates the astrological significances of Uranus, and moreover, strongly suggests that astrological phenomena influence the existence of both individuals and societies.

Archetypal astrology achieved glorification in a third book by Tarnas entitled Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View (2006). Some of his readers were disconcerted by the format, though the alternativist British organisation called the Scientific and Medical Network awarded Cosmos and Psyche their Book of the Year Prize. In this controversial volume, Tarnas favours such themes as Jungian synchronicity, archetypal theory, and (rather pronouncedly) the Uranus-Pluto Cycle. The Beatles, in their 1960s activity, are described in terms of "Saturn return transits" (p. 122). Professor Tarnas has since been identified as an astrologist.

Earlier versions of astrology were in circulation amongst the Greek and Roman philosophers, notably the Stoics. "Platonists similarly held the planets to be under the ultimate government of the supreme Good, but tended to view the celestial configurations as indicative rather than causal, and not absolutely determining for the evolved individual" (Passion, p. 84). Astrological fatalism was totally rejected by later thinkers, though elements of a scientific reformist belief in the subject were existent during the early phase of the Royal Society (ibid., pp. 486-7).

During the 1970s, in collaboration with Dr. Grof at Esalen, Tarnas interpreted the Grof dossier of LSD experiences in terms of "archetypal" astrology. Professor Tarnas has been celebrated by Grof partisans for correlating the four "perinatal matrices" of Grof's "cartography of the psyche" with "archetypal meanings" of the planets Neptune, Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus. Grof is reputed to have endorsed this linkage, implying that archetypal astrology is the only means for successfully predicting the content of experiences in LSD "psychotherapy," Holotropic Breathwork, and the "spontaneous eruption of unconscious contents." These ideas, well known on the web, are in strong dispute elsewhere.

The "epochal transformation" proposed by Tarnas can unfortunately be interpreted by critics in terms of LSD psychotherapy, holotropic theory and hyperventilation, suppression of female dissidents, synchronicity theory, archetypal theory, and archetypal astrology. There is still no compelling reason to abandon the traditional philosophical discipline (stretching back in variants to Plato) in favour of alternative post-1950s practice and theory, even though the Cartesian brutality, the Kantian cordon, Humean scepticism, and Nietzschean "will to power" can be regarded as impediments.

My own version of philosophy, which is citizen, differs very substantially from the current "Integral Studies" orientation favoured in American counterculture. I have attempted to illustrate that factor on this webpage. See also my autobiographical reflections and Tarnas-Grof. The Aristotelian class system should long ago have been eliminated, but survives in modern science and academic philosophy.

Kevin  R. D. Shepherd

January 2011 (later slightly modified)



Copyright © 2016 Kevin R.D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded June 2010, last modified November 2016.