|Exegesis Volume 3 Issue #26
Exegesis Digest Tue, 10 Mar 1998
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 18:26:24 -0500 (EST)
From: John Reder
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #25
At 09:11 PM 3/9/98 GMT, you wrote:
> Exegesis Digest Mon, 09 Mar 1998 Volume 3 Issue 25
> From: Jens-Ole Paulin Hare
> Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #24
> Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 01:11:35 -0500
> From: Jens-Ole Paulin Hare
> To: Exegesis
> Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #24
> As an astrologer - and a writer - in Aarhus, Denmark, who has just
> published a minor book on astrology in which I deal with its relation to
> science I have read the latest contributions to the list with great
> interest. I find that many astrologers resist this discussion, as if
> something sacred in astrology would be hurt if it were to 'compete' with
> scientifical terms. I'm pleased to see that somebody looks at this
> comparison as a challenge.
You have to look at the difference in the terms art and science. Simply, a science is something that adheres to a fix set of rules. In art there are no rules. If you get a degree in accounting, it is a BS degree, because accounting is a science and one must master a set of accepted accounting rules and work with them. If you treat accounting as an art it is called "creative bookkeeping" and you go to jail. If you want to call astrology an art, then you are saying there are no rules and you are free to interpret anything the way you want. Then Mars can rule Leo, Aries rule the feet and anything else you want to support your position. Most of the time, those who call it an art do exactly that. They make up the rules as they go along, to support their philosophy. They never give even the slightest empirical data to support their position. I have never seen it fail, that one takes this approach, that eventually they are hoist by their own petard, in the end. Usually, you will find that the work flawed by some incomplete or erroneous assumption of basic astrological principle. The flaws always being obvious and avoidable if the person had made any attempt at aligning data to the philosophy. If you have an idea, show me a chart to support it. Show me a planet, an aspect, anything concrete and I will consider your approach. If your only evidence is that you can talk for an hour about it, then it is just talk. .
Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 17:35:29 -0500
From: Joe Bennett
Subject: (no subject)
Please accept a comment from someone who is not an astrologer (me). Mr. Tallman wrote:
"And this is the essence of the discussion. How does astrology come to be considered an art? Is astrology a medium susceptible to artistic performance? Again, I think this issue begs the question before us, which is the relationship between astrology and science."
Has the question become one of semantics? As a writer of fiction, I'm told the purpose of 'art' is to create an emotional responce. We are taught in grade school, that 'science' is an objective practice, that it is concerned with questions which can be answered through deductive reasoning and empirical proof. If these statements are accepted, then, what do the two, science and art, have in common? Not much, I suspect.
But 'science' and 'art', among other things, are just words. As any human endeavor that must be learned before it can be mastered, such as the craft of shoe making, running a multi-national corporation, astrology, both those endeavors associated with pure or fine art, and those endeavors associated with empirical scientific discipline can be associated either way. That is, an artist can be said to apply his/her craft with scientific exactitude, while the scientist might be respected for the artistic intuition inherent in her/his research. In this sense it all boils down to words. I tend to think, in their purest expression, art becomes science and science becomes art. And so, astrology, in it's purest form, can be both. Now then, what is it's purest form? Another word. Another problem.
Regards, Joe Bennett
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 15:58:59 -0800 (PST)
From: Kepler College Development
Subject: Science, Technology, etc.
Im a teacher of Engineering Technology, and for the last 14 yearrs have been deeply involved in discussions on several college campuses about the definitions of various disciplines in Higher Education. Technology is at the center of this whirlwind, and, to the dismay of my collegues, I occasionally make reference to astrology and magic in the discussions.
About 30 years ago, several trades/crafts were faced with major technological changes to their disciplines. (Welding, machining, electronics service, etc). Staying up to date in their fields required ongoing training, much of which involved a study of scientific principles.
( BTW, the Masters and Journeymen were not particularly more adaptable to assimilating new material than the apprentices. This rapidly brought about the restructuring or demise of the Guild system)
As the tradespeople studied more of the sciences, engineers (who had previously been devoted to design or analysis) began to study more of the processes. This resulted in a smaller, more effective workforce, using more automation and innovative changes to the system much more often. The need for old-school engineers also diminished, as computers allowed tradespeople to make their own calculations.
Today we have a growing army of Technologists, who know enough of the scientific priciples and methods to use the tools, evaluate the results, and develop better, more effective tools. This is technology, as defined by most higher education, Engineering Accrediting bodies, and most state law. (States define various disciplines so they can allocate money to the public schools for specific purposes)
Science professors dont always consider this academic. They figure that unless there is a real devotion to the scientific quest, to answer the "why", then what you have is a Vocational/Technical program, which has no place in the strictly academic world.
For the most part, astrology exists today as a technology, the use and development of tools. Thoughout its history, some have used the scientific method to try to understand why astrology appears to do what it does. But those researchers are rare. Most astrologers use the available tools, and perhaps develop some new ones based upon empiricism.
Astrology can be examined scientifically, but astrology as a science is hard to sell. Also, most scientism today is deeply committed to mechanism. Hardly anyone who knows anything about astrology can suggest a plausible Newtonian causation for astrology. Doesnt bother me any, but that makes most scientists lose interest. It also infutiates them that Technologists seldom care about the mechanisms either. The measure of a technology does not depend on an explaination.
Astrology lends itself well to being a technology at this time in history. Mechnism has failed miserably as a component of Human Experience models. People are more results-oriented, and if the technology produces results, it has as much purpose in society as any other tool.
As for Art, the Artists in Higher Ed cant agree on what art is or was, or what it's for. I would hate to see astrology jump into that mess until they have some better definitions.
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 00:44:20 +0000
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #25
From: Jens-Ole Paulin Hare
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #24
> It seems to me that this idea about a fundamental difference between
> art and science was born long after the creation of astrology. Sure
> there has been a difference in both theory and practice between the
> two, but nevertheless an astronomer in the 16th Century could also
> be - and were supposed to be - an astrologer, interpreting the
> symbols of nature. There were no fundamental distinction between
> 'exact/objective' knowledge on one hand and 'intuitive/subjective'
> knowledge on the other hand. And so the difference between art and
> science (subjective/objective) was not seen as 'natures doing', but
> rather as a result of 'human weakness'. Isn't this ancient (and
> common) knowledge what W. Tallman refers to when he says that "any
> process can produce art in the hands of an artist"?
Well, actually what I intended to convey was that art is a concept that is relatively independent of the medium in/with which it is created. The great categories of art are those in which the medium is in common and venerable usage, but that doesn't mean that they define all that can be art. It can be said that most art falls into some one or other of these great classifications, but it is the vision that drives the creative process rather than the medium in which it is expressed that is more important. When the vision is successfully expressed, and is generally found to have intrinsic value, we can call it art, I think. So it is the artist and not the medium that is of most importance.
> Asking the question whether astrology is an art or a science may
> very well be a symptom of not listening close enough to what this
> ancient 'tool of knowledge' has to tell us. Astrology is founded on
> symbolic values. This foundation is not (poor) science, nor is it
> (fine) art. It is a message to both of them that 'nature has to be
> interpreted' - and thus the distinction between subjectivity and
> objectivity, on which so much of our modern way of thinking depends,
> is to be seen as an illusion we create in order to make nature
> easier to handle. If this message is true relativity reigns, and
> what you see depends on the methods you choose for your
> investigation. These are the conditions when looking at the
> horoscope, and by setting these conditions the horoscope could be
> said to imitate nature - as a very precise image of our relation
> with it and our ability to explore it and realize it. And symbolic
> values from this point of view becomes the appropriate starting
> point for describing and understanding ourselves and the world
> around us, whether it be as a scientist or as an artist.
Well, maybe its a message that nature *can* be interpreted; I don't thing there is a necessity here, but a possibility. Certainly people have successfully survived by brute strength, and without any concern at all for the environment other than that it serve as required. I think that what is made possible by astrology (and other such practices) is the potential for insight beyond what is given, what is visible and obvious. It has always been primarily a survival tool of exceptional power and scope. To choose to use such tools, and incidentally science is another such tool, is to choose to to use the most potent skill we have, that of the use of the conceptual mind.
As far as the symbolic nature of astrology, this is a subject often referred to but seldom really discussed, and I think it really should be, because it may well hold the key to the real value of astrology. I suggest that a proper understanding of that key is necessary for successful practice of any astrological application. In addition, it is probably also the key that is not well enough understood by those who seek to discover how to scientifically validate astrology in the first place.
Your observations are right on the mark, sir! (imnsho...)
> In my (danish) book on astrology I have claimed that astrology can
> be seen as a science that places no fundamental discrimination
> between subjectivity and objectivity. The important thing here, I
> think, is not whether to call it art or science, but to make it
> possible to define 'science' (or 'art') on astrology's premises -
> not the other way round. Wasn't it modern science that precluded
> itself from art by claiming objectivity as a reachable goal and as
> the only valid rule of conduct for our understanding of nature?
I suspect we can leave science alone to define itself, and perhaps invite it in to contribute what it will. That science has problems with astrology seems to be more a matter of not really wanting to deal with the premise itself than anything else, and the reasons for this are not rooted in science, but in the social body politic of modern man.
Any promise of power not within the current power framework is assiduously attacked by those who are, and if astrology actually works, rogue (not within the power structure) practitioners are a threat. The possibility (probability?) that the future can be told with some degree of accuracy and precision is a potential of enormous consequence for those who would control their fellow man for private reasons, ie. politicians, commercial enterprises, makers of public opinion... you know, the people who have always run the world.
In the case of this possible potential its better to stamp it out if you can't control it, they think, and scientists do work for a living... grants, funding, position, tenure, etc. Money talks and what it says is that it will brook no competition for power. I know this is not a popular or politically correct view, but I'm afraid that's what the evidence says to me.
As for science itself, what we are talking about is scientism, not science. We tend to forget that the first activity in the scientific process is uncritical observation. In the very beginning of the process, everything is noted and nothing is discarded. Eventually some notion of what is going on is reached, and then critical observation is done to take data, take data, take data, take data.... incrementally, the process yields insights to the competent observer. Only then do we set about the process of erecting an hypothesis that can be tested, and in this way we allow the object of our interest to reveal itself to us. All the concerns about rigorous science is focussed on this part of the scientific process, and those concerns are only appropriate as they relate to this process.
The "religion" of scientism seeks to apply that sort of rigor to the whole process and it is entirely inappropriate to do so. Concerns in the earlier part of the process have to do with such things as the "blunders of the first or second order": the first order blunder is to miss something that exists, and the second order blunder is to assume the existence of something that in fact does not exist. And if I've got that backwards (again..... philosophical dyslexia, I suppose), please set me straight, gently please (philosophical dyslexia is sometimes a painful condition.... < tongue firmly planted in cheek > ).
It is not rigor, but thoroughness and perseverance that addresses this initial issue, which is why most work is done at the edge of what is known so that efforts are cost effective. And this is one of the fundamental problems with science and astrology: it requires leaving the safety of the shores of accepted knowledge behind and leaping into the deeper water of the unknown. Most workingclass scientists aren't really able to do this, and it requires some amount of general scientific expertise that is usually only found at the more advanced levels.. postdocs can learn this from exceptional masters if they will, but of course these masters have already chosen their field of interest.
And now I'm straying from the point of this reply, but perhaps I should continue these observations in a separate post.
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 00:44:20 +0000
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Further thoughts.
In my response to Hare's post, I made some assertions that may seem unfounded. Let me expand on my thinking here.
It is customary to regard the notion of predisposition on the part of the scientific community with some amount of caution, for it obviously conveys some fundamental disrespect for the scientists involved. Although there seems to be some compelling circumstantial evidence that might support this notion, there is in my view another and more damning foundation, and one that is squarely planted at the core of the scientific community.
I spoke about deep water science, out beyond the shores of accepted scientific knowledge. Clearly, most scientists are not prepared to do that sort of thing. It requires a far greater range of expertise and a much more thorough grasp of the philosophy of science than most scientists ever need. Nevertheless, the requirements for such a project are quite well understood in theory, and they in fact constitute the foundations of the philosophy itself. It seems to me that these requirements are well within the scope of any postdoc in a relevant field, and I guess I'm surprised that some young Turk out there hasn't taken up the challenge already, although maybe I haven't heard of some one or more that actually have done so. I presume that if this is the case, I will be quickly disabused of my ignorance. 8^)
The requirements are 1) a grasp of the complete methodology of science in principle, and 2) an expertise in a relevant field. Let me address the first:
As I said, the very first step is a completely uncritical and doggedly thorough investigation of the issues at hand. Traditionally, a fundamental part of this process is in fact handled by academia, and the certification of competency includes a working grasp of all the work that has been done before; this is what advanced education is all about from the upper divisions of undergraduacy onward. Unfortunately, this is most effective when the area of interest and endeavor is already established, and there does in fact exist some amount of solid and dependable work in the field. When the area of endeavor is *not* already established, then interdisciplinary postgraduate work is usually the current protocol, but even this is not entirely adequate to the area of interest here.
The essence of the problem is that the existence of the field itself is denied, and so all relevant academic material is at least not designed as appropriate, and in fact mostly designed to refute the idea of the field itself. Thus, the investigator must be able to transcend the academic bias implanted in the expression of the findings upon which he must draw. This is why a thorough grasp of the scientific process itself is of primary importance; it must be assumed that there is no preceding work in the field and that the whole process must be addressed from the ground up.
What we would expect is that the investigator immerse him/herself in the lore of astrology in order to understand the current views, and do so both as a matter of research and then as a matter of exploration. The investigator would be expected to put some time into achieving some level of competency in the practice of astrology as it is commonly carried out. The investigator, as competent observer, must be able to experience this practice with no critical predisposition, lest one of the aforementioned blunders occur. Then the investigator needs to seek some sort of idea of what is going on that will satisfy the data (experience as well) at hand.
This is a critical point. We must assume, as astrologers, that the investigator has discovered that some part of astrology actually functions somewhere in the ballpark that is advertized. If not, then he hasn't been able to duplicate the experience that so many of us have obviously had, and the first part of the process has not been completed. And so we must expect that one of the primary factors in the initial observation is that "something" is going on! The first blunder has been avoided successfully. If nothing is actually going on, I think it's time for most of us to go home..... well, let us proceed on faith here and assume that we are right.
The next question and the next part of the process is to discover what that might be. This is the dreaded question we cannot address; it can be called, I think, "The Problem of Astrology". But the question is not what we think it is, and that is the first point that we as astrologers must grasp. What is going on here is that there is some correspondence between celestial and terrestrial phenomena, and for the purposes of further investigation, we must assume that some mechanism is involved. The nature of that mechanism is unknown and any speculation at this juncture is premature.
In short, it is not "How does astrology work?" that is the question. It is: what is the mechanism whereby this correspondence exists. This is, I believe, the first and most profound insight that we as astrologers can grasp about our art. The implications, however, can be shattering for anyone who has placed their faith in astrology as the essential world view. Astrology is an artifice, an intellectual structure the intent of which is to mirror this mechanism in such a way as to produce insight into the consequences of that mechanisms function.
I repeat: astrology is not a direct observation of the reality we are seeking, but only of its reflection. It must not be assumed to be either necessary or sufficient as a body of theory about this reality, only one that produces some results. Therefore, it is *not* astrology that needs investigating, but the mechanism that produces the effect that astrology was developed to interpret.
The investigator must arrive at this conclusion, because nowhere in the astrological construct is there any theoretical explanation of what is actually taking place that allows these correspondences to be interpreted. Because this is so, the investigator must define the problem in tractable terms, and does so by defining the focus of interest here (the astrological effect) as a mechanism that can be understood in some terms.
Parenthetically, I urge the reader to refrain from leaping to the conclusion that I am urging a mechanistic view of the universe where cause and effect rules absolutely, for I am not. The mechanism may well not entail cause and effect relationships. We just don't know, and that is the proper stance. We call it a mechanism because we believe that something is going on that can be understood, whatever it is; the alternative asserts something like "there are some things that mankind was never meant to know" and we can all go home. Both the investigator and I reject that alternative so we brought a rope and are hanging in there....
The next step is for the investigator to assess the scope of the problem and sketch out a schematic of what must/might be involved in the mechanism. The 'must' is the essential least case, and the 'might' is the possible most complex case. This is subject to revision on an ongoing basis. From this schematic, the investigator can identify areas of expertise and bodies of knowledge that can be assumed to bear on the mechanism.
Then, and only then, the investigator turns to these various disciplines for such that might be possibly offered therefrom. Usually, this involves the assistance of some one or more who holds a certified competency in these disciplines, for they bring part of the preparation process with them. In this case, an old problem rears its head: the assistant must be able to bring the power of the discipline to bear with no bias or predisposition, and that may be harder than it seems. In any case, it would remain an issue to be monitored continuously. How this might be done is a tactical matter and not relevant here.
At some point, then, the investigator has formed a group that will address the problem from as many points of view as are relevant. The nature and composition of that group will be expected to change as new disciplines are discovered to be relevant, and old ones perhaps only in a limited manner. This, then, is what we would expect if science were not somehow proscribed from the investigation of astrology. In fact, before the demise of astrology's repute, exactly this sort of endeavor existed on a continuing basis, although the history of its existence and function has been largely erased and so much must be inferred; nevertheless, enough evidence directly indicates that his was the case that we know they existed, if not much more than that.
Now, science has asserted its supremacy in the world, and the religion and cultural constructs it has fostered: scientism and technocracy, have served to bolster if not cement that position. It must be expected in this case that science would be eager to investigate this mechanism, but it is not. I ask: why? A compelling body of anecdotal evidence (fully permissible in the first stage of investigation) supports the existence of a mechanism of incredible power for the benefit of mankind. Why is it that science has not responded?
I assert that the failure of science to answer this question is more damning to science than any other single issue before us today. It would seem to necessarily imply the existence of a predisposing force, and the most obvious ones, possibly such as I described, are prime candidates for Occam's venerable blade.
Now, there are further considerations that must be actively addressed to make this essay fair and evenhanded. Until quite recently, the last few decades, that is, there was some real substance to science's contention that there was no possible explanation for the astrological effect, and no perceivable means for the existence of the astrological mechanism. We must clearly acknowledge that this is the case. The consequences of this are interesting.
Science has traditionally been a supporter of the assertion that astrology can have no basis in fact, and that support was by and large well founded in practice. Although theoretically, the proper stance of science was to assert that astrology lay beyond the scope of any known competency and so nothing could be said at all, the actual response was that since no known mechanism (same usage) existed to produce the astrological effect, it could not exist. This is pretty shaky ground for science, and one that it has suffered rather badly within this century. One would expect knowledgeable scientists to treat the unknown with some caution, and probably many have done so; nevertheless, 174 scientists whose principal asset was a reputation signed on to a scientific travesty, one which could never have been countenanced in *any* other situation. They pulled this off because they had no obvious direction of research that might produce some insights in this regard.
The fact is that this was not actually the case. Gauquelin published a few rather interesting findings that were obviously applicable to the investigation of the astrological effect, and his books *had* been rather high profile prior to that unfortunate manifesto. That these have not been followed up (to my knowledge) is a further indication that scientists have an agenda which is damning to the integrity of science itself. I guess I would really be interested in any indication that any of these have been followed up..... 8^)
As it stands, then, the notion that it is astrology itself that will produce the most effective results of investigation is here demonstrated to be at least contestable. I suggest that if the work already done to "prove/disprove" the validity of astrology from within the current practice remains inconclusive, we should at least contemplate the larger picture. There is more, I submit, to be done than the scope of current astrological practice can provide, and I suggest that astrologers are well served by recognizing this and at least being disposed to support the sort of investigation I briefly outlined. To do so, I suspect, would be to play a superior hand at science's own table.....
Finally, I suppose I'm on the hook to produce some supporting documentation, but I think my argument stands on rather well-known assessments about the reality of human nature and the consequent state of the human condition. Anyone can look up Gauquelin's work (I hope), but if there are questions about my citations, please email me privately.
The essence of my argument rested on what I believe I understand about the scientific process, and the reader will note that in no case did that understanding have to be detailed or specialized. Unless I am terribly wrong in that understanding, I submit that the logic of this presentation prevails. If I am wrong, please enlighten me!
Further, I wish to make it very clear that I intend no disparagement in any sense. People do what they have to do for reasons that are compelling to them whether or not we know and understand those reasons. I am not interested in castigating the behavior of individuals, even those of the 174. They must have had their reasons for doing what they did, and I will grant that survival outweighs ideals if that survival includes others than themselves. I can easily suspect this is the case in the sort of situation that well-known scientists can find themselves.
I think we can do better than we have done on behalf of our profession, and I have briefly described some of the issues involved and sketched some parts of a feasible solution. There may well be astrologers out there who actually hold the competency I suggested described the requisite "young Turk". If they hear my voice, I invite them to at least seriously consider what I have said. I assert that if nothing else results from such consideration, at least I will have planted seeds that could shake up the status quo, and in the last analysis, maybe that's enough.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 3 Issue 26
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