The passion of the Western mind : understanding the ideas that have shaped our world view

by Richard Tarnas

Paperback, 1991




New York : Ballantine Books, 1993, c1991.


Here are the great minds of Western civilization and their pivotal ideas, from Plato to Hegel, from Augustine to Nietzsche, from Copernicus to Freud. Richard Tarnas performs the near-miracle of describing profound philosophical concepts simply but without simplifying them. Ten years in the making and already hailed as a classic, The oassion of the Western mind is truly a complete liberal education in a single volume.

User reviews

LibraryThing member neurodrew
It is disconcerting to reach the end of a book and to discover that the author holds a belief that is very odd. This book purports to be a history of western thought, and acquits itself well in the first 400 pages. Tarnas is very convincing but conventional in his understanding of much of western philosophy, but seems to be competently reviewing the ground with an engaging style of writing. In the epilogue, however, he reveals that the problem proposed by Kant, namely, the impossibility of verifying an external reality on the basis of reason, will be resolved by a mystical union of "masculine" and "feminine" outlooks on reality. He thinks that the research of a fellow named Grof, who interpreted many strange revelations from people under the influence of LSD as revealing a universal archetype, or memory, of the womb, and the trauma of birth, is the key that will allow western man to overcome the alienation produced by Kantian solipsism. He thinks that recent feminist thought has revealed that the Western approach to the world is largely masculine, thinking of the world as an object to be perceived and mastered, rather than as a holistic and emotional experience. He is very conventional on evolution, modern physics, and physiology, and has not studied these to great effect. The historical parts of the book were very interesting, but the final astonishingly stupid conclusions makes me wonder about the unfamiliar assertions in the early portions of the work.… (more)
LibraryThing member Smiley
I know that once you start reading this you will finish it with enthusiasm. And you will learn something in the bargin. The last section seems to come out of nowhere, but does not hamper the impact of the argument.
LibraryThing member galacticus
Excellent introduction to western philosophy. The writing is lucid allowing for a quick read. I rated 3 stars because the author deviates from the topic at hand into personal beliefs as odd as Plato's explanation of the male female disunion.
LibraryThing member pessoanongrata
i wish a teacher would have put this in my hands in high school, or freshman year of college. it's a great starting point for exploring the history of western thought and culture.
LibraryThing member fisio007007
Titulo Original: The passion of the western mind


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