|Exegesis Volume 3 Issue #18
Exegesis Digest Mon, 16 Feb 1998
Hello list members, I occasionally lurk on this list and was interested in the comment by one of your members regarding the lack of interest in astrology by mainstream academia. One of the reasons implied, was that astrology has little about which astrologers can say that they know such and such to be certainly true (words to that effect).
Being in mainstream academia I can assure you that there is no lack of interest in astrology when it is presented in the framework and according to the criteria by which academia deems knowledge to be worth attention, namely rigorous scrutiny upon which claims for evidence are based, and continual peer review. Probably the criterion least relevant is the assertion that something is known for certain to be true. Knowledge is constantly undergoing re-valuation, reassessment and revision. But the hypotheses upon which claims to knowledge are based need to be soundly researched in as objective a manner as possible, and it is there, that it seems to me, many astrologers fall short of meeting academia's reasonable request...because astrologers tend to make assertions based on purely one-off personal, subjective impressions. Those may have meaning, significance, validity, for that individual, but academic knowledge is of a kind which one might describe as 'general', that is, accessible to inspection and evaluation by all. That isn't to suggest that all who inspect and evaluate will reach identical conclusions, of course, but there is a big difference between the 'truth' value of an astrologer's statement that "Pluto represents abortion" because when I had an abortion Pluto was moving over my ascendant...(the word "because" being the problem), and an academic research proposal which might be framed "What astrological factor is significantly correlated with the act of terminating a foetus?" and then approaching the problem on an empirical basis by inspecting the positions of all the planets relative to the horoscopes of hundreds of women at the time of termination, in order to discover if any one of them was significantly placed in relationship to a horoscope position to a degree greater than chance alone would allow.
There will be disagreement, of course, as to whether the latter approach
is really the appropriate one to take, because it has certain in-built
assumptions that are possibly invalid, such as the supposition that the
act of abortion is experienced identically by every woman who has
experienced it and will therefore by 'symbolised' astrologically by
identical planetary correlates; and the related assumption that the
horoscope is a map of objective reality as distinct from one of
subjective experience. But those are themselves academic issues and
provide material for academic debate. Don't think, however, that there
is no forum in academia for such debate. Last week I attended a seminar
of a group of academics with a common interest in the period between the
medieval and Renaissance eras, the seminar called "Borderlands" in
Wellington, New Zealand. One paper was presented by a fellow from
Virginia Polytechnic in the United States, titled "Astrologers and the
Gregorian Calendar", and presented in a straight-forward, factual
manner, until the very end, when, having persuaded us that astrologers
had contributed considerably to the easier acceptance of the new
calendar, eventually, by the population of England, than might have
otherwise been the case, he then concluded with the provocative
statement "That was the last contribution made by astrologers to modern
civilisation." (That was in 1752!). Well, there would have, had there
been time, been considerable discussion, but time ran out and he got off
scot free. There is no lack of discussion about astrology going on in
the academic world, and as I have pointed out on a different list from
this one, the major contributions to the understanding of astrology are
made by individuals of whom the 'normal' astrological world are almost
totally oblivious. Those individuals number among them Professor Sigmund
Eisner of the University of Arizona; Professor John North of the
University of Groningen; Professor Owen Gingerich of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Professor Eugenio Garin,
Emeritus Professor of the History of Philosophy in Florence; Professor
E. S. Kennedy, at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon; Proessor
David Pingree of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago;
the late S.J. Tester, former Senior Lecturer in Classics at the
University of Bristol; Ann Astell, Professor of English at Purdue
University. And I have myself found it possible to contribute to
astrological knowledge through both my Master's and Doctoral theses, the
first titled "Valid Knowledge: Astrology in the Curriculum of the
Post-Compulsory Education and Training System" and the second titled
"Chaucer's Solar Pageant: An Astrological Examination of the Canterbury
Tales". If one reads Patrick Curry's "Astrology, Science and Society",
one will find therein many essays on astrology written by such prominent
academics as Hilary Carey, Richard Lemay, Keith Hutchison among others.
Finally, I might point out that if one wishes to make a contribution of
an astrological kind to the academic arena, it is necessary to review
the past research that has been done in the area with which one is
concerned, and then take a fresh approach. Astrologers are fortunate in
having about four thousand years of the history of their subject and its
development with which to concern themselves. I say, "Go to it."
Dr. Garth Chivalle Carpenter,
Dept. of English,
Victoria University of Wellington,
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 00:51:43 +0000
From: "Francis G. Kostella"
Subject: Rox & Souls Redux
I just wanted to publicly point out to all who wrote, worrying that they were causing problems, that my "Rocks and Shouls" posting was about messages that have NOT made it into the list and nobody here has seen (except the authors and I).
I'm simply trying to make the limits clear, and prevent people wasting time (theirs and mine) sending "trash talk" to the list.
Sorry about the confusion, it always happens when I don't edit my posts at least twice!
If you had to ask, you were NOT the problem. :^)
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 3 Issue 18
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