Richard Tarnas makes the case that in order to understand the modern mind we must travel back in time and look through the different lenses upon which our worldview is built. We need to ‘recover our roots’ in order to more fully understand the values, views and ideas that form the basis of how we interpret and understand our world now. This is an education in self-understanding that can more fully help us face our current challenges. In order to gain benefit from this experience it is necessary not just simply to read about what such a group thought and believed, but as Tarnas argues, approaching the world views of different groups as one would a work of art – with reverence, sympathy and appreciation. It is an experiential exercise where we ‘put on the mind’ of the ancestors and so see through their eyes. It is a new way of doing history that puts experience and empathy at the heart of the work. In looking with different eyes, we allow their meanings to unfold. ‘Every age must remember its history anew’, Tarnas writes.
This approach cultivates the capacity for flexibility and what Tarnas calls ‘a sympathetic metaphysical imagination’. We endeavour to look through the eyes of men and women from different eras. To do this we need to look without preconceptions, but ‘suspend’ our own assumptions for a moment and come with fresh eyes to the world.