Exegesis Volume 3 Issue #69

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #67/68

Exegesis Digest Fri, 11 Dec 1998

Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 00:12:02 -0800
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #67/68

Mark Melton says:

 > ?? The whole universe or just the part we can see?
 > ?? Aren't all models by definition constructs, i.e. artificial,
 > man-made objects that are simplifications
 > and abstractions of the real thing?

Well, astrology pretty much limits itself to what we can see, I think. Celestial configurations include both planets and fixed stars, but both have to be visible to be observed and plotted. When we get into abstract points, then things get overly complicated, I think; best to let that alone for the first work.

 > ?? Something like a "black-box" model? You know the input and output,
 > but only a transforming function but not the mechanism.

This is exactly what we have. We are told what the properties of this "black box" are, but there is no way to determine the validity of what we're told, and anyway its performance as such is manifestly unreliable. Somehow, we need to discover what comprises the box. In electrical/electronic engineering, black box analysis is one of the basics of reverse engineering. We haven't had much luck reverse engineering astrology, I think.

 > ?? I need a def. of validity here. If you mean metaphysical validity, I
 > probably agree. If you mean something like utility, I think we know
 > something about that already.

The word used is what is meant. The problem of utility is that it isn't reliable; if it were, we wouldn't be having these sorts of discussions. Well.... yeah, maybe we would, but just for fun instead.

 > ?? Again, I quibble with "unverifiable." In the exact sense of
 > scientific verification, you are right. In the practical sense of
 > verifying whether some particular version of the model works i.e.
 > yields predictable results (define that anyway you like!), then you
 > should be able to refine the model by trial and error.

Well, one would think so, wouldn't one? Yet this hasn't happened and it seems we aren't able to see how to do this. Hence all the argument about statistical trials etc. Even if we refine the model, or *a* model, we are left with conflicting models, all of which work sometimes. This raises questions about the usefulness of astrology as a model in its own right; one is left with the suspicion that astrology is actually (?) a mandala of sorts, and that is another ball game entirely... or is it? So trial and error to refine a model of unknown validity seems a less than optimum approach, I think.

 > ?? Gravity is such a thing. For a long time we did not know what it "is"
 > and Newton himself said "Hypotheses non fingo," (I would not make
 > hypotheses) but we could experiment with it and see how it worked. I am
 > out of my field here, but I believe that until Einstein came along with
 > a more comprehensive theory that implied Newton's laws, we didn't make
 > much progress.

That speaks to my point, I think. There are some phenomenon that we can investigate with sufficient precision that it is possible to create a mathematics to predict its behavior. Maxwell's Equations are of this sort. Astrology has yet to be shown capable of submitting to that rigorous inspection.

 > I think this is an important dialog because it might help put astrology
 > into a familiar scientific context; by that I do NOT mean the familar
 > reductionist approach where all phenomena are reduced to examples of
 > known physics and chemistry. I think that's been tried without much
 > success.

I think so too. All science isn't reductionist, you know. The basic idea of science is to discover a deeper class of knowledge about something, like a statement that holds true for a set of phenomena instead of simply an individual phenomenon. The reductionist principles are very powerful where they are useful, but they are not a part of the basic foundation of science.

This interminable wrangling about different astrological theories and practices finally winds up being so much hot air, because there is no way of demonstrating any of them. Until we can get to the point of understanding *something* of what astrology actually represents in the real world, I don't think we can proceed any further.

Joe Bennett says:

 > Someone wrote:
 > We will only be able to ascertain the validity of the model when we
 > discover
 > the real nature of that linking mechanism, such that it can also be
 > represented in the model.
 > I say model shmodel. The zodiac and all that astrology stuff is your
 > model and you, the astrologer are the linking mechanism. I suppose then
 > to 'discover the real nature of the linking mechanism' is to discover
 > the real nature of yourself. Isn't that what astrology is all about?
 > I have another question. Is it really important to professional
 > astrologers to be recognized by the 'Scientific Community'?
 > Joe

If you practice astrology for your own private use and don't advertise yourself as a professional astrologer, then these discussions are obviously optional for you. But the profession of astrology deserves much more than it is getting from its leading lights, I think. When you put the "Scientific Community" in quotes, you cloak the issue in absurdity. The "Scientific Community" is comprised of Disciplines that have demonstrated themselves as useful to (some) people. This community is concerned with its own problems, and hasn't the competence to judge those of astrology, whether or not they know or will admit this.

No, it is the common man who would like to know whether astrologers know what the hell they are doing before they are ready to put their hard earned cash on the table, just like they want to know the same of anyone else with whom they do business. Would you deny that they are wrong in asking this? If so, then tell us what makes astrology so special that it is exempt? What we are trying to do here is to discover whether, or how, we can find the answers to the questions they ask. And any demonstration that does not include an external frame of reference is worthless; self-referential definitions and explanations are without value.

I would invite you to read my original post V3 #64 "Another approach to astrology". In this, I addressed the notion of mankind as (part of) the linkage, or linking mechanism. You might think about what I imply there. You also might ask the question whether it is necessary for mankind/life forms, etc., to be involved in that linkage. Mary Downing has suggested that it is not in V3 #53. I suspect these are archived somewhere. In short, this is a very significant issue, I think. Your claim is that astrology is simply a subjective phenomenon, requiring human intervention, or have I misread you?

If you want to join this discussion, please do so, but I would hesitate to discredit its value too lightly, I think.



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