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Astrology: The Manifesto 1/4
by Patrice Guinard, Ph.D.

-- translation Matyas Becvarov --

Note P.G.: A preliminary version of The Manifesto is in my doctoral dissertation (Paris, Sorbonne, 1993), of which chapters 1, 44, 45 and 63 have been rewritten. A new version appeared in the form of 9 articles in the French journal L'Astrologue (1996-1999). This Internet version has been considerably reworked and forms its own self-contained unit. The text seeks to understand why astrology has been shunted aside in modern thought (Part I: 'What Is Astrology?'), and how this rejection manifests itself in the intelligentsia, especially in academia (Part II: 'Who's Afraid of Astrology?'). A first English translation of some excerpts of the first six chapters (i.e. Part I of The Manifesto) has been prepared for a lecture held at the Kepler Day International Research Conference (London, Nov. 22, 1997). That text, 'Astral Matrix and matricial Reason in Astrology', previously published by C.U.R.A., is not yet available. A second English translation of the first three chapters had been already published here (C.U.R.A.'s issues 4 and 5) and are also unavailable. They are newly translated, including the footnotes. My warmest thanks to Matyas for this new version.

Note P.G. (Nov. 2014): Astrologers read the Manifesto -- from years -- as an illustration of their oldish astrological practice. They do not read it as a new regard on astrology. But contrarily to other parts of my thesis work, the Manifesto is not astrology, only a premise to what may be a new form of astrology. Astrologers do not want to get rid of their old Valens, Dorotheus, Antiochus, Masha'allah, Lilly, Morin, Carter, Volguine et al. traditional models. They do not want to understand astrological facts and experiences within new frames, but want to reinterpret them within the same oldish ones. When an astrologer reads a chart, he does not try to read it directly with new eyes, but reads it through the sub-literature he knows, i.e. through the reading of the Greek, Arabic or Renaissance models for the most cultivated of them, or through the reading of their modern copies and secondary masters for the less educated. It is for that purpose that they believe, as antiastrologers do, that astrology is just a cultural (pseudo)-knowledge.


In 1984, when I made the proposal for my first dissertation project to a "philosopher" at a university in Bordeaux, I was told I would have to present "astrology in its entirety" (under the assumption that it is unfamiliar to readers in academia) before comparing it to various systems of classical philosophy -- as if there existed AN astrology; as if there were not as much diversity in its domain as in the mode of Occidental thought one calls philosophy. It was an impossible task, which led me to seek out a dissertation director whom I had heard praised for "tolerant openness to marginalized knowledge." The absence of any previous knowledge of astrology on the part of the reader, legitimized by its eradication from European culture, would have urged the use of a specious approach of comparison between philosophers anchored in our cultural memory and an ersatz astrology to which one would would only grant, as a gesture of generosity, the right of comparison in the guise of a bastardized amalgamation.

I. What is Astrology?

 1. To Think Astrology
 2. Why Astrology?
 3. Science vis-à-vis Astrology

 The Manifesto 2/4

II. Who's afraid of astrology?

 The Manifesto 3/4
 The Manifesto 4/4

1. To Think Astrology
"Astrology is a matter for philosophers." (Paul Valéry)

    Astrology is not born simply from the observation of the stars, but also from the astonishment of the ego before the spectacle of human diversity and the recognition of its otherness: why am I as I am, and not the same as this other? Astrological awareness does not proceed from a two-fold assessment composed of exterior observation and introspection, but rather from an experience of a broader nature, exterior-interior, psychic and cognitive: in a single stroke I understand my being, that of others, the external world and their common roots in the stars. One comes to astrology only by a sudden insight, rather like a revelation of a spiritual nature, followed then by an intuitive and intellectual recognition of the participation of every being in the cosmic order and the plenitude of the Universe.

    One does not learn astrology: one receives it suddenly, not only through the discovery of texts and practices which have been marginalized by an institutionalized knowledge which does not correspond to its aspirations, but above all because one has lived through a period where consciousness seeks, generally at the age of adolescence, to find a metamorphosis of its knowledge of the world and of itself. On the other hand, one is taught not to "believe" in astrology, not to consider this centuries-old knowledge of the human being as pertinent to the totality of human experience, and to repudiate the superstitious and dubitable practices it involves. Astrology is not a matter of mental belief, nor of experiential verification, but rather of psychic adhesion: there exists a reality which affects us and which is not adequately expressed by the systems of representation which surround it.

    To think astrology is to seek to define its status, to determine its foundations, its operative structures and its levels of articulation, to demarcate its limits and its arenas of application, to elucidate its anthropological perspectives. Astrology sets itself apart from the ensemble of religious, philosophical and ideological discourses by reason of its continuity, its ubiquity, its capacity to endure and regenerate itself despite norms and cultural modes. Going across ages and civilizations, it continually renews its conceptual patterns, taking from its immediate cultural milieu what is necessary for its perpetuation. [1]  Despite the spiritual blindness and mental turbulence of the present age, astrology's object remains the same: the structuring relationship of the geo-solar environment to the psyche.

    Consciousness is embedded in a multitude of ideas, images, memories, information -- and misinformation -- which come from the outside world or result from its own inquietudes. The mental arena itself is the playing field for divergent orientations, conceptual eruptions and incessant agitation. Philosophical systems seek unification in the affirmation of a perspective or orientation special to consciousness. That is why such systems differ so greatly from one another and, more often than not, reveal the temperament of their creator, as Nietzsche pointed out. Science -- which has invaded the terrain of a metaphysical speculation already moribund -- does not present a truly unified perspective on reality, but only offers instruments for analysis of the external world by means of the fragmentation of objects, measurements, and experiments made on phenomena. It has substituted its disoriented objectivity for the orderly subjectivity of the philosophers.

Astrology logically admits of three postulations:

1. The world of facts, of the concrete, of things, of "experience," like the world of law, of words, of mental representations, appears to consciousness only by means of the presence of a primary world, psychic, internal, which receives those things and organizes them. The ideas of the mind are born only by reason of one's perceiving the exterior world through a qualified interiority. Psychic states are an inevitable substrate to things and to words.

2. This interior world is in perpetual motion, in continual innervation by the planetary cycles. This is why I call it psychic-astral, just as I call "impressional" (i.e., a pre-conscious awareness, from the term impressio of Paracelsus) the mark of this psychic impregnation made by astral agencies.

3. These pre-conscious awarenesses differentiate themselves through structures. This structuring of the psyche, at both individual and collective levels, occurs through four conditioning milieux: energetically through the planetary Forces, spatially through the Houses, temporally through the planetary Cycles, and structurally through the zodiacal Signs.

    The organic integration of planetary rhythms, at the level of the nervous system or the genetic code, a fundamental hypothesis of astral reality, necessitates as a result a category of realities -- the pre-conscious awarenesses [impressionaux] or astral impressions -- which form the relationship of the astral to consciousness. All one can say about an astral impression is that it leaves a fugitive trace in consciousness, an evanescent psychic coloration. To these pre-conscious awarenesses -- experienced directly or indirectly by consciousness but unproveable, imponderable, too tenuous to be exploited by the machinery of logical-experimental methodology -- are assigned archetypal forms [2] , symbolic or mythical, which resolve the psycho-mental disequilibrium created by the impossibility of fixing their characteristics. The symbol has as its function to qualify these diaphanous entities, which escape all attempts at determination, and to supplement reason, which cannot give a full accounting of reality in its integrated totality. We shall not speak of influences -- a term which carries a physical connotation and contains the idea of a type of action exterior in origin -- but rather of incidence, that is to say, of a psychic, interior integration of astral origin.

    The astronomical signal is registered as a pre-conscious awareness and expressed as a symbol. The astral (i.e., the impressionaux) derives from the psychic; the astrological (i.e., symbols and operative structures) derives from the mental. The astral designates that which is felt, lived, "impressed" onto the psyche, perceived fleetingly, or "unperceived": the astrological is structured, conceptualized, modelled. This distinction is at the heart of the debate about the nature and practical implications of astrological knowledge.

    An irrational assumption, imaginary or improbable because it is inaccessible to the instruments of observation and unsusceptible to analysis by the the laws of causality, astrology -- that science of the imponderable, that awareness of the evanescent, that knowledge of the imperceptible -- does not derive from the psychic or the mental, but rather from their common root which lies "behind our eyes" (Paracelsus). Neither does it come from a Great Beyond, but rather from something "on this side of things," something intimate, our own, close to us, which nonetheless seems strange.

    At the beginning of the 16th century astrology and astronomy were still both tributaries of the rationalization proposed by Ptolemy. In 1543 Copernicus reoriented the astronomical perspective of his contemporaries (and it is unfortunate that his recommendations for economics did not meet with the same fate). A veritable "astrological revolution" occurred in the same period with the publication, five years before the appearance of Copernicus' treatise, of the Astronomia magna of Paracelsus, but the work passed unnoticed. Philippus Bombastus, who died two years earlier than his elder colleague, was the instigator of this renaissance through his development of the doctrine of the inner star with its sky or firmament at once visual and invisible [3] , the existence of interior myths within each person, and the impressio, produced in each person through planetary influxes, an inward mark of the presence of the stars, and no longer a sign or cause deriving from the visible, factual exterior world. In the manner of Copernicus with heliocentrism, Paracelsus did not invent his model, but rather discovered it anew. It is not improbable that Christianity's first intellectuals were especially intent on the extirpation of pagan writings, Pythagorean and Hermetic ones particularly, which appear only in a few very altered traces in the Adversus of the Fathers of the Church. And, just as in the case of Copernican heliocentrism, the astrological concepts of Paracelsus did not separate themselves entirely from their roots in antiquity (e.g., the circular orbits of the planets with Copernicus, and medical astrology with Paracelsus). Hard to break free from the hold of models nearly two thousand years old!

    Astrology's function is to determine the structural laws of interiority. In its practical application in horoscopy it is a tool for the comprehension of lived experience; like the Yi King (I Ching), it infuses experience with consciousness. It does not give an immediate effect of a visionary or divinatory nature, in the first instance because the practitioner is in no position to evaluate with certainty the weight of extra-astrological factors (e.g., biological, socio-cultural, familial, professional, climatic, etc. etc.), but more importantly because astral incidence does not operate at the level of fact, of events, of the existentially concrete, but rather at the level of their interior substrate. Astrology acts on the relationship between what is felt and what is manifested. This is why a psycho-mental interpretation and a psychological explanation do not give a sufficient accounting of its nature. The notion of the pre-conscious awareness [impressional] liberates astrology from its servitude to an exterior psychology, be it psychoanalytic, behaviorist, phenomenological, gestaltist, existentalist or reflexologic. It is time for astrology to forge its own concepts.


2. Why Astrology?

"When there comes a glitch
in the thrumming of your philosophy,
when your destiny gets tripped up (...)
then there it is, the Big Question (...)
And here is eternal Astrology,
to which you are led by great wisdom --
even if a little bit of science leads you away from it."

(Léon-Paul Fargue: The Four Seasons)

    The technological idolatry of the modern world no longer favors contemplation of the starry skies, which still occupied Kant's solitary evenings. Instead one allows a sort of spell to be cast over one, or a kind of stupor or convulsive agitation, coming from the rebroadcast of a football game or some other television program. This does not involve the same category of "spectacle," nor, above all, the same quality of looking at things. The filtering of our perception of reality implies a divestment of our natural relation to the world. A protective membrane separates us from things. The mediation of our relationship with reality, tailored to the specialization of our particular activity, engenders a massive uniformity of viewpoint, which becomes more obtuse the more it infiltrates into artificial needs. We are no longer seized by psychic and physical reality, but rather obsessed by our techniques of substitution. How could this loss of contact and this desensitization remain without effect upon the adequacy of our mental representations?

    One can admit following Kant's lead at least three facets to the idea of truth, as it is applied to language and discourse, to the objects of sensory experience, or to the faculties of the mind.

    Formal truth, a condition of truth both a priori and necessary, consists of the agreement of consciousness with itself, that is to say, in the logical organization of discourse and the coherent, non-contradictory agency of concepts and propositions. [4] 

    Experimental truth -- or material truth, relative to the contents of consciousness, to facts and empirical observations, whose criteria of validity is verification -- presupposes the possibility that the concepts of human understanding can indeed identify and describe the reality perceived by the senses, and can establish an adequate correspondence between thought and its objects.

    Transcendental truth, invented by Kant and according to him capable of saving metaphysics, does not concern itself with the objects of consciousness, but rather with thought in its capacity to know reality. It assumes that human understanding contains a faculty capable of emitting "pure" judgments, or "synthetic judgments a priori."

    Pure reason would contain within itself those principles which guarantee the correctness of ideas. Kantian idealist rationalism presupposes -- and illusorily so -- a human understanding free of all internal entrenchment and all external constraint, similar in that quality to common sense, or the Cartesian notion of "good sense", i.e., the innate faculty of the spirit which enables it to distinguish between the true and the false. Now, if reason guarantees the correctness and coherence of mental representations, then it is because there necessarily exists an intelligibility inherent in reality, an implicit order of the totality, an indeterminate yet luminous foundation, anterior to the transparency of verbal representations as it is to the opacity of sensory manifestations.

    Friedrich Jacobi developed the idea according to which no cognitive experience is truly independent of the "primordial instinct" (Grundtrieb) to be found in each person. Consciousness cannot be separated from its seat of vitality. For Nietzsche, an indeterminate instinctive force manifests itself through the activity of the mind: reason appears at all costs like a force which gnaws away at the roots of life. In the usual sense of the term, reason manifests in a mixture of evidence and opinions which appear "reasonable" within the context of a particular community; in a gathering together of received notions and habits of thought which refer back to normalized practices; in value judgments mortared onto what is socially and culturally acceptable; by the belief in a superficial conformity between verbal representations and the reality in fact perceived. To put it another way: reason is like "a horse running toward the stables." [5] 

    For Johann Hamann, a contemporary of Kant, there is no form of reason which is not anchored in individual "passions" and practices, subordinated to the values of a particular socio-cultural milieu, and subservient to the structures of language. A century later Wilhelm Dilthey developed this critique of Kantian reason and showed that consciousness also depends on psychic data and the diversity of psychological dispositions in the human being.

    Plato had already drawn attention to the perverse effects caused by the rhetoric of the Sophists, by the articifial cohesiveness of argumentation which contents itself with developing "philodox" opinions, and by the pointless debates spurred on by the inhabitants of "the Cave." This is why mythos has its place in Platonic philosophy, as it does with Herodotus, a place which its shares with a logos anterior to all demonstrations of "likelihood." [6]  This circumstance arises not because history and philosophy are incapable of liberating themselves from myth, but rather because myth is necessary to the construction of thought; there is no accomplishment or realization which does not preseve the primordial models, because myth was already an evolved form of philosophy and history.

    Since Aristotle's time it has been commonplace to poke fun at representations of myth, which are labelled as products of an infantile or archaic humanity in the name of rationalist, long-winded thinking -- such is the attitude as late even as Hegel and the Positivists at the end of the 19th century -- as if myth did not itself proceed from an ordered coherence, which often leaves far behind it the rickety constructions of modern thought. It is commonly believed that mythic representations are no more than the stutterings of thought. Quite to the contrary: it was after long periods of sterile debate and exegesis that the human spirit, fatigued of "giving reasons," forged mythical thought.

    Astrology developed as a philosophical conception within the universe of the Stoics, and possibly of the first Pythagoreans, as well. It was the inheritor of the logos as well as of the mythos. Its object has never been the specific significations of astrological operands and figures, but rather, the search by means of those significators of their underlying structures and archetypal forms, psychic-astral in nature, experienced directly and inwardly by consciousness. Specific contents derive from the framework which produces them, harmonizes them or gives them meaning. This is why there are no typologies in astrology, but rather archetypologies. These operative structures, inscribed on the psyche and animated by the periodicity of the planetary cycles, render possible the formation of "transcendental" ideas and give birth to ideational, symbolic and mythical representations, usually repressed by reason, the organization of which remains only at the surface of discourse.

    Luigi Aurigemma observes the transhistorical permanence of the astrological symbol: the symbolic variations "seem to be organized around a kernel of significations with a degree of permanence that appears quite high. High enough even to make us ask ourselves if, beneath these historical shadings and colorings, we may encounter at this level of the life of the symbol some experience of a collective, endopsychic nature, concrete but indefinitely renewed, and by reason of that fact charged with great emotional energy, with a density, a degree of reality capable of giving it such permanence at the limits of the metahistorical." [7]  Ernst Cassirer defines the link which unites the symbol and its endopsychic origin as the notion of the symbolically pregnant: "On the contrary, it is perception itself which owes to its own inherent organization a kind of spiritual 'articulation' and which, held in its interior texture, belongs as well to a determined sensory texture." [8] 

    Astrological thought does not turn away from reason in pursuit of some nebulous "irrationalism", taking sides with an environment conveniently disposed toward its message (due to such phenomena as the crisis of modern consciousness, a growing sense of absurdity, etc.), but rather, it advocates going to the very ends of reason, opening oneself to a more ample rationality, displacing the mind's "point of assembly" (Castaneda), which determines what we perceive and are led to know and to recognize within the context of the real. "Man has abandoned silent knowledge for the world of reason ... The more he grasps onto the world of reason, the more ephemeral becomes his intention." [9]  Intention is that psychic disposition which puts the human spirit into direct contact with reality in its totality. "Limited reason," which obstructs this connection, is a defensive attitude on the part of the human spirit, the most entrenched and most sterile position of the mind's point of assembly. Such reason is only a crutch for thought: "Thought begins only when we have experienced that reason, touted for centuries, is the most stubborn adversary of thought." [10]  Heidegger emphasizes the importance of vigilance to insure that "the silent message of the word about Being has the upper hand over the noisy call of the principium rationis as the principle of all representation." [11]  For "people today face the grave danger of no longer measuring the greatness of what is great if the measure used is not that of the domination of the principium rationis." [12] 

    Astrology has no need to be nailed to the cross of current experimental practices and scientific models, nor need it be "made reasonable" (Heidegger) according to the criteria of science: it generates a different type of rationality which relates to psychic states; it perceives reality in its global nature and through the agency of psychic-astral operands, in an approach which is transversal, not horizontal. Astrology emerges from a paradigm which is organic, not mechanistic. It possesses its own logic, its own requirements and methods, which one would do poorly to qualify as intuitive before taking a closer look at them. Astrology possesses its own language, a "proto-language," which gives account of a "phenomenon" in its totality and in its diverse facets, just as it appears to consciousness. It develops its own mode of reasoning, matrix-based reasoning, which cannot be assimilated by the experimental reason of science, nor by the discursive reason of philosophers.

    Science subsumes all phenomena beneath a single perspective; astrology coordinates diverse perspectives, all the while preserving the specificity of each one, and conjugates them on the basis of the archetypal dispositions of the human mind, which implies an interiorization of the phenomenon perceived. And precisely because it engenders a rationality more "globalizing" (Karl Jaspers) than that of the scientific mode, astrology is decried by science. Ernst Jünger notes that science "can be incorporated without difficulty and without losing any of its dignity into the system of astrology, but not the reverse." [13]  Indeed, the Saturn of astrologers is a symbolic operand which renders good account of the role science plays in its ensemble.

    Astrology is, in point of fact, that psychology or "transcendental phenomenology" announced and formalized by Husserl: "To the degree in which the science of mind, understood as an all-encompassing science of the world of the spirit, possesses as its theme all persons, all types of persons and personal endowments, all types of personal configurations, which we call here cultural configurations, it consequently encompasses as well the science of nature and the nature at the heart of such science, which is nature as reality itself." [14] 

3. Science vis-à-vis Astrology

"Everyone will tend to be rather the same ... Alike.
(...) a race of scientists and mathematicians,
each dedicated to and all working for
the greater glory of the super-civilization."

(Edward Albee: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)

    Modern materialism is that state of mind engendered by the hypertrophy of the mental faculties, by the invasive presence of mechanized technology, by the obsession with understanding reality by means of the skylight of "reason with a small r," and by the consequent shrinking of our existential and emotional horizons. In the modern technopoly, it has gone out of fashion to formulate synthetic judgments (Kant) be they a priori or a posteriori. Whatever is not "scientific" is not considered to be knowledge, but rather literature. Experimental reason, which reigns as absolute master, does not seek to understand what is, but rather to describe and explain what operates. The scientific agenda is knowledge raised upon the foundation of a particular ability. It does not respond to the "why," but rather, to the "how." It jettisons important metaphysical questions, which have lost all meaning within the context of the processes of science. The technosciences do not explore the foundations and the principles of their reality. They do not even respond to the questions raised by their own results, such as the question of physical constants (the speed of light, the charge of the electron, the constant of gravity, etc.) [15]  From a metaphysical point of view: "Scientific knowledge of nature provides (...) no effectively illuminating knowledge about nature, no ultimate knowledge." [16] 

    Judgment is enslaved to data and to the results of empirical techniques: "Simple sciences of facts form a simple humanity of fact." [17]  Scientific knowledge is not only burdened with "facts," it is burdened as well with its instruments of measurement and its system of experimentation. The instrumental approach was born at the beginning of the 17th century. "Before 1590, the repertoire of instruments used in the physical sciences was limited to those used for astronomical observation. In the following hundred years one observes the introduction and use of the telescope, the microscope, the thermometer, the barometer, the air pump, the indicator of electric charge, and a number of other experimental apparatuses (...) In less than a century the physical sciences became instrument-based." [18]  This technological revolution led to the formulation of objects calculated, measured and controlled by instruments the underlying reality of which remains outside awareness. It was analysis of the function of the steam engine which led Sadi Carnot to the formulation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It was use of the telescope which led Galileo to the discovery of the moons of Jupiter. It was not simply a matter of looking through the telescope; he had to adjust his way of looking to the telescope. As Bachelard puts it, "instruments are simply materialized theories." [19]  Technico-scientific practice codifies instrumental operations. Max Horkheimer points out the dangers of the instrumentalization of reason within a technological and technocratic society: the use of technical means with the goal of maximum efficiency and without care for the ends, the reduction of human action to the rationally planned, and the unlimited extension of technical power over things and over reified individuals. [20] 

    In the 20th century mechanical physics has become probabilistic. Experiments are meant to corroborate a probability of mass. By operating on quantitative rather than qualitative elements, it presupposes the comparability of phenomena. In experimental applications the utilitarian criterion decides the cognitive design. Theories are selected according to their efficaciousness, their ability to perform, or their technological effect. Any direction capable of going beyond normalized praxis and leading to transcendental knowledge is eliminated. [21]  Thomas Kuhn shows the incommensurability of scientific theories across the centuries and their coincidence with periods of "crisis" which precede the emergence of a new "paradigm." He describes "the development of science as a succession of traditionalist periods punctuated by non-cumulative ruptures." [22] 

    Scientific ideology claims a monopoly on knowledge and on impersonal objectivity, as well. Scientific objectivity, in point of fact -- this subjectivity of scientists -- results from the acceptance of methods, practices, and theories adjudicated by a community of authoritative experts. Scientific research relies on institutionalized socio-cultural praxis and on the ideological consensus which it influences. It codifies itself in a system of values and collective beliefs: in the past it was the theory of the ethers, today it is the Big Bang; again in the past it was the practice of bleeding, today one touts the practices of disinfection and vaccination. From this point of view, scientific rationality is not more "objective" than Sumerian cosmology or Bantu mythology. Like all knowledge, it is in part a fiction, a presumption on the part of the human mind, an artifact of consciousness.

    Rationalist thought rejects all propositions which have not been "proven" according to its own criteria, grounded in the presupposition that a statement must refer to a tangible, measurable reality, divorced from the impressions which are at the root of judgment. Now, this reality which serves as referent is nothing more than a supposition (William of Ockham), a simplified schema of lived experience. Hence one denies to consciousness the ability to see, to intellect the ability to think that which is worthy of being seen or thought. Each is circumscribed by technico-analytical practices performed on a fragment of reality, extirpated from the realities to which it is linked. The course of modern science leads to a relativism which obscures any metaphysical intention. The essential disappears more and more from the preoccupations of consciousness. The neutralization of the body and the mind and above all the "decivilizing of the soul" (Robert Musil) increase the sectarianism of assertions and partial rehabilitations. In our modern factories of knowledge the organization of research imposes an excessive division of function: mediocre or insignificant results achieved with more or less dexterity are legitimized, and one imposes a superachieving technicity on the performance of meaningless tasks. All this is pointless obscurantism which separates us more and more from ourselves. [23] 

    Science contributes to the modeling of the socio-economic environment through its technological production. [24]  Its conception of reality is by no means necessarily the most legitimate or fecund, but it is indeed the one with a hold on our way of living and perceiving. And just what is that way of living? Here arises the suprising contradiction of our modern mentality: on the one hand one affirms the rightness of our mental representations and the necessity of upholding scientific criteria as the only valid ones, to the detriment of other forms of knowledge, because only those criteria are believed to guarantee the legitimacy of results and to satisfy the requirements of modern rationality; on the other hand, one admits quite freely that civilization -- despite all its technological benefits -- is an unmitigated disaster on the human level: our industrialized cities are intolerable places to live, suicide is on the rise among the young and the not so young, civility is in marked decline, ethical and emotional faculties are atrophying, interpersonal exchanges lose anything they had of warmth and agreeableness, ecosystems are destroyed slowly and inexorably -- all of which is simply the visible manifestation of a single event of contemporary history: the internal destruction of the human being. So we end up with intellectual competence and political impotence at the same time: supposedly the world is thought up by phoenixes, but it is governed by incompetent idiots. It is of course quite apparent that our material production and our mental representations condition the texture of our lives. Modernity simply gets the world which it itself shapes.

    Science seems to be an activity, a functional type of knowledge, which creates objects such as particle accelerators, computers and food products and so forth, but that activity is sustained by institutions put into place in order to make it function in that manner. In its ideological dimension science has become what Christian religion and morality still seemed to be in Marx's day: the opiate of the people. The critique of the positivistic sciences and modern technology, formulated from various perspectives by Ernst Mach, Edmund Husserl, Heidegger, Bohr, Habermas, Kuhn, Feyerabend and many others, is not intended to condemn those things, but rather to show their limitations and abuses: e.g. the relative objectivity of scientific rationality, its application to domains where it does not rightly apply at all, the intrinsic production of an ideology, called scientistic, which precludes the involvement of other types of knowledge. So the critique does not focus on science as a theory of nature, but rather on its abusive technological applications and its ideological monopoly of knowledge.

[1]  "There is a transcultural, transhistorical unity to astrology which runs through it like the cord runs through the pearls of a necklace." (Gilbert Durand, in L'astrologie, Antoine Faivre (dir.), collection des Cahiers de l'Hermétisme, Albin Michel, 1985, p. 201). « Text

[2]  The archetype in the Jungian sense is an empty form, a formative virtualness, a psychic force capable of structuring consciousness, without specific representative content: all interpretation of the archetype is merely one possible translation within a system of representations. "Archetypes are factors of formal order which structure unconscious psychic processes, 'patterns of behavior'. (...) The archetype is the form, perceivable by interior observation, of the a priori order of the psychic domain." (Carl Jung, Synchronicité et Paracelsica, French translation published by Albin Michel, 1988, p. 38 and p. 106). « Text

[3]  Will-Erich Peuckert considers this notion as the third principle of astrology, after those of time and order (in L'astrologie, French translation published by Payot, 1965, p. 251-252). « Text

[4]  Emmanuel Kant, Critique de la raison pure [=Critique of Pure Reason], French translation published by Garnier-Flammarion, 1976, p. 114-115. « Text

[5]  The formula comes from the Indonesian philosopher Ranggawarsita (19th century). cf. Denis Huisman, Dictionnaire des philosophes, Paris, P.U.F., 1984, v. 2, p. 2191. « Text

[6]  Carneades was the first to turn away from Platonism. « Text

[7]  Luigi Aurigemma, Le signe zodiacal du Scorpion dans les traditions occidentales de l'Antiquité gréco-latine à la Renaissance [= The Zodiacal Sign Scorpio in the Occidental Traditions of Greco-Latin Antiquity Up to the Renaissance], Paris, Mouton / E.H.E.S.S., 1976, p. 104. « Text

[8]  Ernst Cassirer, La philosophie des formes symboliques [=The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms], French translation published by Minuit, 1972, v. 3, p. 229. « Text

[9]  Carlos Castaneda, La Force du silence [= The Power of Silence (Further lessons of don Juan)], 1987; French translation published by Gallimard, 1988, p. 154. « Text

[10]  Martin Heidegger, Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part [=Paths Which Lead Nowhere], French translation published by Gallimard, 1962, p. 322. « Text

[11]  Martin Heidegger, Le principe de la raison [= The Principle of Reason], French translation published by Gallimard, 1962, p. 268. « Text

[12]  Martin Heidegger, op. cit., p. 254. « Text

[13]  Ernst Jünger, Le mur du temps [= The Wall of Time], French translation published by Gallimard, 1963, p. 14. « Text

[14]  Edmund Husserl, La crise des sciences européenes et la phénoménologie transcendantale [= The Crisis of European Science and Transcendental Phenomenology] (1954), French translation published by Gallimard, 1976, p. 330. « Text

[15]  Albert Einstein: "I believe in fact that a rational theory should introduce no constant that God may choose at His whim. When one has eliminated dimenionalized constants, those which remain as a result (constants without dimension) must, from this perspective, either be defined rationally (such as '"e" or "pi"), or they should not intervene in the affair at all." (in "Lettre à Max von Laue, 24 April 1950; Oeuvres choisies 5, Le Seuil, 1991, p. 113). "Their apparent existence rests upon the fact that we have not yet gone deeply enough into things." (in "Lettre à Ilse Rosenthal-Schneider, 11 May 1945; Oeuvres choisis 5, Le Seuil, 1991, p. 111). « Text

[16]  Edmund Husserl, op. cit., p. 215. « Text

[17]  Edmund Husserl, op. cit., p. 10. « Text

[18]  Thomas Kuhn, La tension essentielle [= Essential Shift], 1977; French translation published by Gallimard, 1990, p. 85. « Text

[19]  Gaston Bachelard, Le nouvel esprit scientifique [= The New Scientific Mind], P.U.F., 1966, p. 12. « Text

[20]  Max Horkheimer, Eclipse de la raison [=Eclipse of Reason], 1947; French translation by Payot, 1974. « Text

[21]  Medicine in the larger sense of the word (including surgery and psychiatry) is a characteristic example of such an abuse of power: over-medication and rejection out of hand of marginalized knowledge. « Text

[22]  Thomas Kuhn, La structure des révolutions scientifiques [= The Structure of Scientific Revolutions], 1962; 1970; French translation by Flammarion, 1983, p. 282. « Text

[23]  "The ultimate end -- civilization -- is lost from sight; the means -- modern scientific activity -- barbarizes ..." (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, in Oeuvres philosophiques complètes, vol. 8.1, French translation by Jean-Claude Hémery, Gallimard, 1974, p. 291). « Text

[24]  Thomas Kuhn points out that the rapprochement of science and technology dates only from the end of the 19th century: "Until late in the 19th century, important technological innovations almost never came from people, institutions or social groups who contributed to the sciences." (in La tension essentielle [= Essential Shift], 1977; French translation published by Gallimard, 1990, p. 204). « Text

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