PCC Forum - Rick Tarnas and Brian Swimme - Radical Mythospeculation & a Second Axial Age
"Radical mythospeculation" is the term that the sociologist Robert Bellah, drawing on Eric Voegelin, employed to describe an important phenomenon in the history of human thought, when the evolution of symbolic consciousness in certain complex societies like ancient Greece or Israel reached a degree of critical reflexivity that transcended the traditional social-religious world of the archaic civilizations but did not reject the mythic-narrative mode of cognition. This creative synthesis of the rational and the mythic helped bring forth the emergence of the Axial Age in the first millennium BCE, and the origins of many of the principal religious, philosophical, and scientific traditions that continue to shape our world today.
In this, our final PCC Forum presentation of the spring, Brian and Rick will first briefly summarize the relevance of their reading of Bellah's multidisciplinary magnum opus Religion in Human Evolution (which the entire PCC Faculty study group read together over a two-year period), and then introduce their own recent research and thinking to consider whether some kind of new axial age might be emerging from the crisis of the late modern and postmodern era. In doing so, they will suggest that something like radical mythospeculation may be at the heart of the PCC project, carrying that necessary creative tension between rigor and imagination that could help mediate the emergence of a new world view.
Richard Tarnas is the founding director of the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness (PCC) graduate program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA. He is the best-selling author of two books: The Passion of the Western Mind and Cosmos and Psyche.
Brian Swimme, also a professor in PCC, is the author of The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos and The Universe is a Green Dragon. He is co-author of several books, Manifesto for a Global Civilization with Matthew Fox, The Universe Story with Thomas Berry, and The Journey of the Universe, with Mary Evelyn Tucker.