Exegesis Volume 07 Issue #099

In This Issue:

From: Dale Huckeby
Subject: [e] From Symbolism to Empiricism

From: Exegesis Moderator
Subject: [e] Re: exegesis Digest V7 #97

Exegesis Digest Tue, 05 Nov 2002

Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 13:06:02 -0600 (CST)
From: Dale Huckeby
Subject: [e] From Symbolism to Empiricism

In Exegesis 7:92 Dennis says:

 > >. . . The issue that is not addressed by the phrase "symbolic aptness"
 > >is the relation of the moment to the period. . . . To me [synchronicity]
 > >means a moment in which a significant correlation is identified between
 > >two occurences that appear to have no causal relation between them.

But how do you identify "significant correlations" in the first place? I was going to say symbolic aptness, but on second thought I suspect it's aspect exactitude clinched by symbolic aptness. It's a guaranteed clincher, though, given the malleability of symbolistic word usage and the fact that you get to choose the wording for both the symbols and the event description. Even the exactness is guaranteed, in a sense, in that there are lots of events out there, with chance alone guaranteeing that at least a few (or more, if you use enough factors) will coincide with a satisfyingly exact aspect. Those, of course, are the ones you'll notice and cite as examples.

 > >I agree that seeking reliable correlations is a worthy endeavor, of
 > >course. Limited reductionism to this end can be productive, I accept.
 > >Establishing data with qualitative connections between planetary
 > >cycles and events (psychological or mundane) is a meritorious
 > >enterprise. I'm only concerned by the valuable stuff that is
 > >ignored by this approach (subjective value differences between us).

I appreciate that you think seeking reliable correlations is worthy, but am puzzled that you think something other than observable reliability is required to determine what's relevant. I think if your reasoning had been less influenced by the traditional paradigm you'd be more likely to recognize that reliability is the bottom line as to whether or not a correlation can be trusted. Assimilation of the existing paradigm has BY EXAMPLE shown astrologers what counts as "valuable stuff".

 > >>Semiotics is indeed an important field, but talking about semiotics
 > >>to the exclusion of _what astrologers do_ is a formula for obfuscation
 > >>rather than clarification. Understanding the relation of symbols
 > >>to the things they represent is one thing, but what astrologers do is
 > >>symbol-ISM, a special kind of symbol usage that I think subverts a
 > >>more empirical kind of practice. . . .
 > >
 > >I agree that a disciplined aproach to empirical discovery is long-overdue
 > >in astrology. I agree that symbolism is used by astrologers instead.
 > >I agree that qualitative correlations tend not to be predictable or
 > >testable. I do not, in principle, agree that symbolism usage prevents
 > >anyone being able to separate sense & nonsense. The rest of the human
 > >race agrees with me on this point, since they keep using language to
 > >communicate.

Not always. For instance, I specifically identified symbolism as a special KIND of symbol usage - ie. not language per se - and you appeared to agree but then argued that because people use language to communicate that shows symbol-ISM doesn't prevent us from being able to separate sense from nonsense. So 1) the fact that people use language to communicate doesn't mean they always clearly understand each other. Politicians and bureaucrats, for instance, quite often use language to NOT communicate. And 2) specialized fields of study use specialized forms of communication, (of which symbolism is arguably the traditional astrological equivalent) which make misunderstanding less easy to the degree that the field itself is rigorous. However, symbolism muddies rather rather than clarifies, offers loopholes instead of pinning us down to unambiguous meanings. It's looser and more malleable even than nonspecialized conversation.

Regarding your minor quibble in 7:93 I guess it's not too important what counts as right-brain and left-brain thinking as long as we agree, which apparently we do, that we should use neither to the exlusion of the other. You go on to say:

 > >On the substantive point, I think we differ not on diagnosis of the
 > >problem but on our preference for the solution. Astrologers, in
 > >my opinion, need to upskill in their use of the language of astrology.
 > >Poor interpretation comes from inadequate recognition of the keywords
 > >that characterize the archetypes, as well as failure to grasp the
 > >technique of using the language to synthesise component meanings into
 > >an overall picture of the situation. It seems to me you are blaming
 > >the tool itself, rather than their use of it. You must know the
 > >old saying, 'it's a poor work-man who blames his tools'.

Indeed I do. I heard it from Kuhn, who explains that it's often used against those who doubt the efficacy of current practices due to the proliferation of anomalies. The latter feel that the intractability of such anomalies is due not to their own shortcomings as researchers but to deepseated flaws in the assumptions and practices of the field itself. They DO blame their tools, but such blame is not always a projection of their own inadequacies. Sometimes the workman who blames his tools - eg. Einstein and other paradigm changers - happens to be right.

Yes, I am blaming the tool itself. Where you see rampant incompetence I see a SYSTEM which lacks falsifiability, the ability to differentiate between right answers and wrong ones, because in this system all answers are "right". This system rewards and encourages sloppy thinking, even in otherwise rigorous thinkers. Thus you fail to see, when you say

 > >. . . the fact that I have discovered more than one major event with
 > >this exact configuration makes the correlation repetitive and accessible
 > >to empirical discovery . . .

that given enough events SOME are going to coincide with any given exact aspect by chance alone, and those are, again, the ones that will be picked out and cited as examples. The fact that SOME events will coincide with Uranus/MC, even EXACT Uranus/MC, is not repetitiveness in any useful sense. It doesn't tell us which few of the multitude of Uranus/MC conjunctions will happen to coincide with something important. When things coincide by chance alone we never know WHEN they are going to coincide, and that's why we legitimately say it's "just a coincidence" to counter some people's feeling that because they SEEM to fit together so well it must be more than that.

All of this, however, is difficult to see from a traditional mindset. When I say that within the traditional paradigm we fail to see that "we could have accounted for any event with any chart," and you respond, "You mean traditional astrologers don't bother to ascertain the time an event actually happened?" you completely miss what I'm trying to say. I assume that it's very important to the vast majority of astrologers to know EXACTLY what happened and when. However, because any chart and event WOULD HAVE worked the fact that the actual chart and event ALSO work doesn't validate either astrology or the individual interpretation. If symbolistic astrology is valid and the wrong time or event is used the interpretation should be obviously wrong, and I don't think this is the case. Being extremely careful about getting the facts right might spare you the embarrassment of being "right on" when you shouldn't have been, but it won't make the apparent aptness of the symbolism evidence for symbolistic astrology or your (symbolistic) interpretations.

I agree with Patrice (in Exegesis 7:94) that astrologers often seem unaware of what other people or fields know about the person whose chart is being analyzed (is that what you were saying, Patrice?), and that

 > >real knowledge ought to do the demonstration to other people, that
 > >a sense, that a real information, could be provided by astrology.

Yes, astrology should ADD to what is known about a person, not simply explain in astrological terms what everybody else already knows.

Patrice wrote:
 > >>>The planetary rhythms have become endogenous. More they compel the
 > >>>the psychic system to organize itself "astrologically", ie as
 > >>>planetary forces (energy), zodiacal forms (structure)... This is
 > >>>a meaning of "matrix". And this is the PARACELSIAN theory.

and I responded:
 > >>This is the only (minor) point on which we differ. I don't think the
 > >>planets have compelled this organization, rather that life has _used_
 > >>the planets to organize itself.
 > >
 > >It seems to me that astrology needs this hypothesis -- of Matrix, the
 > >most difficult to accept, I agree, & a speculative one. Planetary
 > >periodicities reflected as internal clocks or "temporal templates" are
 > >not sufficient. It's the only way to "justify" astrological signs.
 > >We could understand rather easily how planetary rhythms could be
 > >integrated in the temporal organization of the psychic apparatus, but
 > >what about the zodiacal signs?

I didn't realize that my assertion that life has used the planets to organize itself, rather than having been compelled BY them, precludes the Matrix hypothesis, but if in so doing I fail to account for zodiacal signs that's no problem. I don't think signs have any interpretive validity. For me the zodiac is just a convenient measuring device that lets me know the angular distances between planets and thus whether or not they're in aspect.

 > >I haven't ceased to repeat that for me, the explanation of the
 > >astrological fact by Jungian synchronicity is no explanation at all,
 > >not even "characteristic of the traditional paradigm" to take Dale's
 > >expression, but just the usual lazy way of today's astrology. And
 > >this symbolistic/post-event connection that could be read in all the
 > >astrological magazines, in the conferences, seems to me no more than
 > >indigestible soup.

It seems the same to me, and it's great that we agree to this extent, but it doesn't seem that way to the vast majority of astrologers and my references to the traditional paradigm are an attempt to explain why most astrologers don't see it the way we do. I can't simply attribute it to laziness, because I know of symbolistic astrologers who are neither lazy nor unintelligent. That's why I bring in paradigms, because they explain that the examples we initially learn from, when we learn a field of knowledge, shape our thought processes in ways we're not aware of and which are extremely difficult to dislodge. And that says something about how we must go about converting people to a more empirical way of approaching astrology. (If symbolism was ONLY a matter of laziness, Dennis wouldn't be a symbolistic astrologer.)

 > >>When a MOMENT is examined it's because we already know what the event
 > >>is and when it happened, otherwise we wouldn't know which moment to
 > >>examine.
 > >
 > >This is the point. AFTER the event, the chart is CALCULATED, & a partial
 > >configuration of this chart is CHOSEN to match the event. I don't see
 > >another thing than an intellectual game, either of the "left" or "right"
 > >brain.

Exactly. I don't think you realize, however, just how invisible your very insightful points are even to exceptionally intelligent symbolistic astrologers, and that again is why I turned to paradigms as a way of understanding why even highly intelligent, nonlazy people seemed to me to be so dense.

I need to stop and get ready for work, but I want to add, as an aside to Dennis, that I've been thinking about your remarks about electional astrology and will respond in the near future.



Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 19:37:06 -0800 (PST)
From: Exegesis Moderator
Subject: [e] Re: exegesis Digest V7 #97

Patrice Guinard wrote (in 07:097):
 > >
 > >So, why do you accept such post that is
 > >polluting the list? -- as:
 > >
 > >>Please delete our name from your list immediately.
 > >>We do not want this material.
 > >

Well. sorry about that, but I thought that everyone was aware of what I wrote when I re-started the list after Dermod closed the old astrolog listserver:

|| I debated myself about how and what to do || concerning the list, should I change the format? || Should I do away with the digest orientation? || Bring on some assistant moderators to cope with my || slowness? After thinking it through I've decided || that the digest format is good and have decided to || stick with it, with one nice addition allowed by || the new software, if the queue of messages is one || day old or exceeds 40K it will immediately send a || digest, so you may now occasionally see more than || one digest a day. Be warned that the issue numbers || will probably be messed up at first, eventually || they will show Volume 7! I've decided to deal with || my slowness in moderating by trying to run the || list unmoderated for a while. Well, what I mean is || that I will no longer hold messages until I have || read and digested them. Let's see if we can keep || the flames to a minimum and the subject on-topic. || || The list will probably have some rough edges and || oddities that I haven't gotten around to fixing or || discovering, yet. For instance, titles of things || might be wrong or slightly off, but don't worry || these things are part of the changes of || transitioning the server from a private machine to || a public server. If you find something that || creates problems for you, then send me email.

I used to read and re-read every message and rejected about 5-10% of the messages for various reasons. But I no longer moderate the list so closely, I let everything through and try to keep up with the list, but my time is very constrained and many of you tend to write very dense messages that take me a long time to understand, and some people write things that I can't make heads nor tails of at all. So I let it all through and expect the bad stuff to get thrown back at me if I miss it.

So, if I miss something like the above example (that person could have unsubscribed easily by following the instructions at the bottom of the page) bring it to my attention and I will fix it.

Readers should send me mail directly if they want an answer as soon as possible. My direction lately has been away from email and instant communication, so a reply might take a day or so or so.


__________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? New DSL Internet Access from SBC & Yahoo! http://sbc.yahoo.com


End of exegesis Digest V7 #99

[Exegesis Top][Table of Contents][Prior Issue][Next Issue]

Unless otherwise indicated, articles and submissions above are copyright © 1996-2003 their respective authors.