|Exegesis Volume 3 Issue #72
Exegesis Digest Mon, 21 Dec 1998
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 22:39:29 -0800
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #70
> As always, I find William's posts provocative and always deeply thought out.
Thank you, sir.
> We know what astrology is: it is a construct that allows us to order [snip]
> Yes !
This is the first step: to recognize that astrology and the phenomenon it reflects are not the same thing, even though there is excellent reason for this to appear to be the case. Now we can proceed.
> What we need to investigate [snip]
> The alternatives seemed to me this:
> (a) There is a _new_ "force" that links certain extra-terrestrial configurations with human being and behavior and perhaps other living things. Unlike Mary Downing (although I am receptive to Mary's view), I considered that the _level_ of the link was probably directly "psychological"., i.e. _not_ mediated by known physical mechanisms such as gravitational or electromagnetic influence. Such a view - incidentally - renders the hard sciences (e.g. astronomy, physics) in no privileged position to comment on astrology in any respect - as they are not actively engaged with the psychological effects with which astrologers' are concerned.
I'm not sure I agree that astronomy is left in an unprivileged position, though. The celestial mechanism is still a primary part of the investigation. In addition, there is sound evidence that neurophysiology may well be one of the most promising approaches to the human aspect. That means that biochemistry might play an important role.
The problem here is the balance between the risk of committing the blunder of the first order against committing the blunder of the second order (and I can *never* remember which is which): does one risk the false claim, or the unrecognized discovery. No problem for those of us who haven't got a reputation to worry about: risk the false claim!
> (b) The influence _is_ mediated by a known force. At the time - perhaps
> short-sightedly, perhaps not - I rejected this out of hand. Like Jerome L.
> Stanton and his co-signatories, I accepted the idea that the gravitational
> influence of the doctor and other attendants at a birth far exceeds the
> gravitational influence of the planets. Of course, given the ideas of
> Dale Huckeby about the significance of the structure of time influences
> ("temporal templates"), I now see that objection as possibly irrelevant.
I will not waste bandwidth on my opinion of Stanton's little pamphlet, except to say that I must assume that none of those august gentlemen ever read what they signed and committed themselves in principle only, else they would have risked death by embarrassment!
The temporal aspect of astrology is profoundly fundamental in the consideration of how this investigation should go forth. Dale has quite nicely restated a rather well considered point of view, however. I view cyclicity as a fundamental attribute of any process, and this includes human life (of course). It can be argued that at some level all processes are linear in that they do not repeat themselves such that they are entirely circular; even those that are so by definition are subject to entropy, eventually. But that view is useless to the observer if the object is to gain understanding.
If we are looking at time, perhaps it is neither linear or cyclic (at least as we experience it, and that is perhaps all that has meaning here), but helical. Process develops cyclically, but evolves through the movement inherent in the helix. Now if this is a useful point of view, then the tools here are the archetypes of cyclicity that allow us to understand cycles in general. This is what Rudhyar's adaptation of Jung to astrology was intended to suggest, I think; it supposedly permits us to see something of that evolution.
Now, Dale's templates (as I recall) were the placement of planetary orbits in that context, with the intent to see how they might separately contribute to the complex that they all create. What does a two plus year Mars cycle mean? How do we see that as manifest in our world, in ourselves? Same with all the other planets, of course. And how can we use the cyclic archetypes to gain insight into these orbital times? How can we use them to see how each have a common format in our experience of them? And on, and on......
> (c) Like Roger (if I understand him correctly) the influence occurs entirely within the realm of consciousness. In other words, the connecting mechanism is merely the fact that we are _aware_ of the positions and movements of the planets as well as the circumstances in which we live. Thus there is no _directly_ causal or physical mechanism in much the same way is there is no _directly_ causal or physical mechanism in the effec that a fine Spring day or a painting has on us. (Well, behaviourists would see it differently, but I won't go into that).
Now, *this* is the main item of contention. And this I would like to address.
Consider game theory: one of the principles is that there is more than one mode of play. For our purposes, we can consider that there is the direct mode of play where the game is the sum total of the player's experience, and there is the indirect mode of play, where the game is only part of the player's experience. The game of war is very much a direct mode of play, especially for the fellows on the battlefield. The game of chess is very much an indirect mode of play, for the player contemplates the board from outside its boundaries. Yet both games are very similar; indeed, it is said that chess was at one point a training game for warriors.
When we are investigating astrology as I propose here, when we are researching or learning about new, or old, or unfamiliar techniques and insights, we are experiencing astrology in the indirect mode. What Rog's reality seems to be is solely the direct mode of experience. Both are valid in their own right. Neither can support a claim to exclusive appropriateness in general. In fact, as much as chess and warfare, they are supplementary. Consider the football player: on Sunday Night, he's in direct mode, or if he's not, he's not going to be successful on the field. During the week in film sessions and critiques, he is in indirect mode, and if he is not, he is not likely to be successful on Sunday night, whatever mode he is in.
Perhaps this makes the idea that all of us are on target easier to grasp.
The astrologer that asserts the exclusive existence of the subjective astrological experience assumes that the direct mode is the only mode of play. The astrologer that asserts the exclusive existence of astrology as an objective phenomenon assumes that the indirect mode is the only mode of play. I assert there are both modes.
Thus we can discuss astrology as we do, in the *indirect* mode, and Rog can assert the existence of astrology as an internal experience (in the *direct* mode) and we can all be correct. Both views are valid and complementary. But this is just sophistry!!
We can perhaps be most usefully explicit here by saying that if astrology reflects a real objective phenomenon linking celestial and terrestrial realms, then as we are part of the terrestrial realm, *and* consciously aware of that fact, we must reasonably expect that the phenomenon astrology addresses is a part of our awareness. Of course we are involved! We are here on the ground and as subject to the phenomenon as anything else; and if we were not capable of being directly aware of that phenomenon, it would not speak highly of our vaunted capacity for consciousness, would it?
The problem with Rog's stance is that it denies the possibility of a direct action without human involvement. I think that is a dangerous stance, in that there are plenty of "astrological effects" that can be cited, all having no human involvement.
Finally, if it is *only* astrology that Rog is talking about, then it must be stipulated that he is correct by definition, because astrology is a human invention, and is only meaningful to the inventors. The effect that it mirrors and astrology are not the same thing, and it is the effect (I think) he is referencing.
> (a) seemed to me the most interesting possibility for physics, but astrology
> (and other influences) lured me away from that direction in my life. Moreover, it seemed to me that many decades if not centuries of work might be required to get close to understanding this "force", when I considered the history of our attempts to "understand" the nature of the forces we already know of, and that this might be an impossible task for a small and poorly resourced band of astrologer/investigators. Pragmatically, what might one do about this?
In science, a vanishingly small percentage of workers get the glory of the breakthrough. The rest make their contributions, and consider themselves successful if they can do so. Of course we must presume that it may take a long time for what we seek to be discovered. But there is one profound value here:
In making this stand, we announce to the world that we are actively willing to accept all contributions in the search for understanding, and that places the onus of closed-mindedness on those scientists who could contribute but elect not to because it's too controversial, or doesn't fit the model of the guy who is paying them, or whatever. We come out shining, carrying the banner of astrology proudly for everyone to see, saying: come and look and see for yourself!
> Well, in the first place I thought, demonstrate convincingly that there _is_ something to be investigated, so as to command the resources and efforts of the scientific world at large. So here I _do_ see a political end to direct investigation of astrology - hence my opening hmmm (!).
And this, of course, has been the 'holy grail' of astrological research and investigation for a long time, and so far, it has not worked. Would that it did, somehow, somewhere! It's still worth looking closely to see how that could be successful, but not as an exclusive effort.
> There are other ways to do statistics, such as the approach used in
> psychometrics; and there are also other methods of research. The problem is (I think) that the hypothesis testing approach is only useful when one has some kind of established foundation (of what Dale calls "matters of fact") upon which to formulate viable theories which can then be tested.
Of course! And it is generally the gathered data and the incomplete account that provide the basis for the foundation of "matters of fact"
> Otherwise, one is trying to find the needle in the haystack before one has
> even found the haystack ! So again, I think we do need to investigate
> astrology, because I think we need good raw data on which to found good (fruitful) conjecture. This is a reasonable account of how physics proceeded I think.
Excellent approach to the business of investigating astrology on its own terms. That is meaningful, where investigating astrology merely to see how to demonstrate its validity is not, and cannot be, I think.
> Alternatively, one might hope perhaps that locked within the current
> physics (or other sciences) account are the solutions that identify the
> astrological 'mechanism'. But of course others will probably not find what they are not prepared to find.
In the astrological community there are quite a few people who are eminently qualified in a number of different disciplines. The task is to discover who those people are and elicit their participation. I think this can be done to good effect, and perhaps it's simply my hope, but somehow it seems to me that if such an effort were to effectively go forth, we might find gold much quicker than we might suppose.
The gauntlet: Any takers on this list?
> So far as I have been able to discover, no studies of a statistical [snip]
> I agree entirely. Let's consider two instances [snip]
I am not in a position to critically assess this work. What I have seen, though, seems to have holes big enough to fly airplanes through < grin > and I'm not a statistician. There are, however, on this list those who are, and I would heartily recommend a substantial critique done by the current peer group whose competency this work involves. Perhaps this should be done off list and the findings presented here, but maybe not. Maybe it should be done here and noted as such. Perhaps the list owner could suggest how this might be done if such a discussion develops.
> Our "deep understanding" can - at one level - be viewed as nothing more than our ability to correctly describe some particular phenomena, in all or part of it's detail. Hence, we don't know what gravity, electromagnetism etc _are_ - but we are able to predict their behaviour under all conditions (so far as we presently know), and we are satisfied with that.
> I am guilty of selling this understanding short in one particular. The theories and accounts we give are perhaps remarkable for two additional properties:
> they _don't_ merely describe; they also unify previously unrelated phenomena; and they _predict_. That is, they have revealed aspects of the phenomena we didn't originally know of. So we are not merely using mathematics to compactly describe the data. We create mental constructs or models which _seem_ to have a deeper reality in that they directly lead us to what we did not/do not know. I still submit that ultimately we are only describing behaviour,
> but perhaps as Penrose asserts there _is_ something fundamental about the
> capacity to even have that mental model, that apparent "understanding".
Oh yes, you are correct! It is the ability of the model to not only predict but suggest and confirm that which we did not already know that demonstrates the authenticity of the model!
Now... Roger Penrose is one of the genuine genii of our time, I think.. well, he and David Bohm (now dead, unfortunately) and Hawking, etc. He has an excellent point, and in my mind his observation is born out by the work done in neuroscience. The brain, as we are beginning to understand it, is actually designed to create that interior model which it presents to the prefrontal cortex workspace (waking consciousness). The original idea was to be able to model reality to perceive what lies in potential therein, and so help to predict what might come to be. The same exact capabilities allow the construction of an artifice, and this (it appears) is precisely what differentiates man from his esteemed biological kin. Yes, that *fundamental something* is perhaps exactly what defines humanity itself.
In addition, I recommend heartily the work done by Operation Hindsight in the effort to produce definitive translations of all the extant astrological texts of the past. This is what is needed to make it possible to do real scholarly research in astrology, and only that level of seriousness will be taken seriously by the other academically supported disciplines, I think. I will say this again, and again....
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 22:39:36 -0800
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #71
Mark Melton says:
> Not so fast! I suspect that no two astrologers use the same subset of
> astrological methods or axioms. We cannot even agree on what astrology
> is all about. In 1973 I attended a lecture in San Francisco at which M.
> Gauquelin stated as emphatically as could be stated, that his work did
> not confirm astrology. To me, at the time, and to this day, I am not
> sure exactly what he meant. His "Mars Effect" is plainly stated in
> Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos so should be considered an axiom of traditional
> astrology, I should think, that has been confirmed (N.B. NOT "proven!").
I can confirm your suspicions from my own experience right here on this list! Gauquelin was, even by that time, being hounded for his work, and it seems to me I recall that he was really trying to regain his professional reputation. He suicided in the 80's ('86?) because a) he had lost it all, b) he was about to be exposed as having padded his work... either/or? both/and? Don't know.
Was it clear to you that he was that familiar with Ptolemy? I don't recall that he ever mentioned this in any of his work, and if he didn't know the Ptolemy citation then he would have no reason to claim any confirmation.
As far as proof... proof is only relevant to logic and mathematics. In any other discipline, one can claim a demonstration of necessity and sufficiency at present, or the conclusion based on all available information, or demonstration of principle, or such things, but never proof. Proof is only relevant within a closed and defined system, and the universe is no such thing.
> The last time I had any contact with Dale Huckeby he was almost as
> adamant that the MC was less valid as an abstract point than the
> nonagesimal. We should be capable of settling such issues by
> statistical methods.
Okay, I will accept your contention. But I'll wait to see that translated into successful achievement.
> So far as I have been able to discover, no studies of a statistical nature
> have been done that were not so filled with assumptions and suppositions
> that they weren't inherently either invalid or meaningless even in concept,
> much less execution.
> I agree
> But I do not. I believe the above statement is overbroad to the point
> of being meaningless. Please be more specific: ALL statistical
> investigations, non-astrological included, are full of inherent
> assumptions. Not just about Gaussian distributions, but independence,
> countability, continuity and probably other things too basic to bring to
> mind. There is no perfect statistical method. All are approximations;
> but there is robustness, a valuable trait that needs more explicit
You are quite right, as I assume you well know < grin > . The problem is that because these are inherent characteristics, special attention *must* be paid to reducing them to the bare minimum and accounting for what is left. The work done on astrology has largely been so sloppy that it wouldn't even be considered for peer review in any relevant journal, or so I'm told by several who are in a position to know, having had the opportunity to closely review the bulk if not the entirity of the work; from what I've seen, even I can see the holes in most of it and statistics is not my competency.
It would be very valuable for you to hold forth here on this subject, I think, so we could get a basic sense of what is worth looking at and what is not, for it is quite likely that, if not us, it might well be someone of the rather large subscription base of this list who will take on these sorts of tasks.
> I think it is a mistake to put your conclusion in your fundamental
> theorem. I would rephrase this into 2 parts:
> 1. Terrestrial phenomena show a more-or-less consistent correlation
> with certain celestial configurations.
> 2. There may exist an unknown mechanism that lies behind this
> correlation, that can be studied phenomenologically at present, and
> possibly directly at some time in the future.
Aha!!! You would turn my proposed "theorem" into a politically correct statement, launderable by all relevant government agencies? Nah, just kidding. No, a theorem is a definite statement, and what you are recommending is a set of observations.
Now, obviously, my "theorem" is largely vapor-ware, because it has no basis other than speculation on my part. But I think it strikes close to the mark, and enough so that it creates the kind of debate and discussion I intended here. In effect, it makes a clear statement in unequivocal terms, and it is intended to establish a new point of view in all of this; it seems to be one that is genuinely radical to current and/or traditional points of view, and that's good, because they've not got us very far towards a real understanding of astrology.
So I'll stand behind my "theorem" and see if I can successfully defend it, and if I can do so, then I will expect that success to be acknowledged, etc.
Joe Bennett says:
> Your claim is that astrology is simply a subjective phenomenon, requiring
> human intervention, or have I misread you?
> What phenomenon makes more sense? All that is apparent is the human
> experience. We can only study, communicate, and so on and so on at the
> highest (at best) human levels, can we not? We might agree that there
> is more out there in existence that is beyond our senses and abilities
> to assimilate the logic and/or validation thereof, but for now, I think
> we really only have, at best, the best of what human beings have seen
> and done, with respect to the observations and opinions necessary to
> move this discussion forward. Human intervention, as I gather you have
> referenced it, is, and begins with, observation. In my mind, that one
> word, observation, includes all kinds of activity, including study and
> dialogue. Yes, I think astrology is a phenom that requires human
Astrology is a human invention, or so I have asserted repeatedly. We have invented it to garner insight into a phenomenom we don't understand, but the existence of which we feel we have reliably confirmed. Therefore, *astrology* requires human involvement; what may or may not require human involvement is the phenomenon we have invented it to investigate.
Astrology is a micro/macroscope through which we perceive what is not discernable to the naked consciousness and from which we achieve meaningful information. We look through the lens of the horoscope to perceive what we know exists but cannot directly comprehend. The horoscope and the phenomenon it charts are not the same thing. We invented the horoscope; it is ours and can only have meaning when it is viewed. Some of us contend that the phenomenon we look at through that lens has existence independent of that of humanity.
One well known "astrological effect" is that of the Jupiter/Sun square that screws up radio propogation quite thoroughly, and I suspect that this would take place even if mankind had never come to exist in the first place... maybe even life itself is unnecessary. There are plenty of nonorganic radio sources....
> To accept that it, astrology, exists outside the human experience, would
> require a belief system that assumes possibly as much as
Again, I have differentiated astrology from the reality it reflects. Astrology is a human construct and so will only have meaning (so far as we know at the moment) to humanity. The reality it reflects must be presumed to not be so bound, such that it can indeed exist as a phenomenon in its own right, as separate from human consideration.
If a tree falls in the forest... no sound exists without a human auditor because sound is a subjective human experience. The compression/rarefaction air wave propogation that creates sound for us most certainly must be presumed to exist. So there is no conundrum here. The same goes for astrology: there is the construct that is the human artifice, which depends on human attention, and there is the phenomenon that astrology reflects, which must not be so limited *until and unless there is found reason to be so*!!!!
To assert that astrology and the phenomenon it reflects are one and the same is to fail to differentiate the observer from the observed, and at that point, the process of observation is worthless, I think. There are some rather tortuous metaphysical arguments that address this, and it's quite likely they are actually valid; for most of us, they are useless because we aren't able for whatever reason (not evolved enough?) for them to be meaningful.
If we can find a compelling reason why astrology and the reality it reflects must be considered one and the same, then we will have discovered such a profound and important insight into the nature of ourselves and our universe that all this talk will be forgotten, I think. But until that time....
> Is it not possible that a set of rules or laws or formula or whatever
> you like to call them exist and function at a level that correlates to
> the conscious awareness of the observer, and that the/an awareness
> thereof can or may manifest itself as an acknowledgment of the kind of
> observations associated with those of astrology?
Ah yes! What you are suggesting, I think, is that as we ourselves are of the terrestrial realm (at least in part), and we are conscious and self aware, then it follows that there must exist at least in potential some direct awareness of the phenomenon astrology reflects *as it directly affects us*. I addressed this in other posts, but briefly:
We must assume that we are capable of direct awareness of the effect astrology mirrors, as it affects us. I think we might start by assuming a sensibility that is comprised of a range of sensitivity, and without any other evidence, let's assume a Gaussian distribution. Within that range, I think we should postulate the existence of a threshold, below which it is not distinct or strong enough to have a discernable identity. Above that threshold, it is strong enough to be identified. If we do this, then we can postulate other thresholds.
One such can be below which the effect does not "make sense" but can be strong enough to be maddeningly insistent, yet not intelligable. Above this threshold, the effect is strong enough to become intelligable and so will probably drive one to acquire some sort of language to understand it. My take on this is that below this threshold the effect has a negative consequence and those who are the strong skeptics and compulsive debunkers of astrology are those whose sensitivity lies in this range. Above this are those who will come to eventually seek out means to understand that sensibility. This means that the rabid debunkers might be just slightly less sensitive than those who will become seekers!
Actually, there are probably some number of different thresholds that interact in ways we perceive but don't understand, but that's for later investigation, if they are valid.
> I suppose then, I think this subject is a science or an area of study
> that exists only because of human intervention.
Astrology most certainly is, but the effect it mirrors may or may not be. Let's give it a chance to define itself without assumptions.
> With great respect, I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday.
You too, Joe, and everyone else on the list as well!!!
Sveinn Freyr says:
> The group mind of Astrologers is held in a prison of illusions.
> Astrology as it is real, is not known and practiced by the group. [snip]
Isn't this a repost?
I'm sorry, Sveinn, but I don't follow the relevance of this to this discussion, and I don't see that you've laid a groundwork upon which we can make sense of your assertions.
One of the things that we have to watch in the discussions of astrology (and like subjects) is that it is very easy for one to engage in "revealed knowledge" as an authority worth citing. It's not clear how anyone can discern the difference between that and simple personal opinion, I think. So, if you have a point to make, then we need to understand a lot more about what you are saying and why you are saying it, else I'm afraid many of us will have no alternative to remaining silent. It is clear that it will be very easy to interpret that to mean we are ignoring you, and we would (if I can speak for all of us) like to not have to do this.
Please gather your material and present it so we can understand what you are saying and why you are saying it. If this is difficult for you for whatever reason, then break it down into small segments and indicate that you are doing so, and we'll all chew on what we *can* digest: a meal can have many courses and we have the time, so please be patient with us.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 3 Issue 72
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