Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #15

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #14

Exegesis Digest Sat, 20 Feb 1999

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 17:28:23 -0800
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #14

 > Whilst I don't like to nitpick, I wonder whether the distinction concerning
 > "cause-effect" is not merely semantic. We have, as yet, no compelling

 > distinction may be merely a convenience for locating where in the phenomenon
 > human agency was able to play it's part.

Of course. The comment was meant to forestall an argument on the matter.

 > So, essentially, if astrological correlation is convincingly demonstrated, it
 > will be said that there is an "astrological force", and initially at least there
 > will be attempts to locate it within existing forces, and if _that_ fails then a
 > fifth "force" is what it will be called.

I don't think I would go so far as to expect it to be a force, at least at present. I have called it a mechanism, suggesting that it can become understood at some point. That this mechanism may be driven by an as yet unknown force is possible, but I suspect it isn't. The effect is most likely to be a phenomena that is not recognized, but whose constituent parts are, if not well understood, at least have theoretical existence.

 > By "magnify" do you mean "demonstrate" ?

Well, that too, but the idea is that human involvement increases the degree to which the environment (including ourselves, of course) are affected by the effect.

 > Even if there is no awareness, it must be assumed that we [snip]
 > left with the impression that most practitioners, therefore, are content
 > that astrology remain, at least in most common usage, a subset of
 > psychology.
 > This _might_, of course, be it's proper domain. Certainly no physicist seems
 > upset by the discovery that e.g. for particles with no charge the
 > electromagnetic force does not exist. Thus, there is no reason why the
 > mechanism could not be selective, and (your point 3 next) indeed be confined to
 > "living" organisms.

And this is exactly the question: Does the mechanism require life to exist?

 > I guess it depends on what you and I mean by "psychology". On one hand, I am
 > fairly sure that psychology and astrology _overlap_ but are _not_ identical,
 > thus I cannot accept the proposition that astrology "is a subset of psychology"
 > (which I guess is what you are hinting at anyway).

This is how I perceive it is being considered.

 > On the other hand, I would
 > like to enlarge what we mean by psychology: "psychology" being merely a special
 > (restricted) _human_ case of some more general level of "consciousness"
 > operating behind all life. (I use "consciousness" merely to indicate some
 > "hidden" level which might connect astrological influence with behaviour,
 > without pretending to define what this means. Perhaps this is what you mean by
 > "the more fundamental...issues"?. In the case of humans, I would be tempted to
 > talk about the "cognitive" level. But in any case there is danger of
 > reification here).

I agree. However, these ideas flout the good Abbot's shaving tool.

 > 3) It is still not clear whether or not the presence of sentience (life?)
 > is required for the astrological mechanism to function.
 > I agree.
 > On the one hand, whether or not such a selective force as I hint at above exists
 > or is possible, I can certainly conceive of models in which sentience is the
 > primary requirement. I would further suggest that such a requirement would be
 > commensurate with a view that 'life' is, at some level, essentially independent
 > of causation as we normally understand it (ie, at the brute level where if the
 > wind blows the apple is dislodged from the tree and, under gravity, falls). The
 > existence of such a further level might be where, popularly, 'free will' would
 > be located.

Yes, but again: Essentia non sunt multiplicans.......

 > On the other hand, if the astrological mechanism (AM) does _not_ require
 > sentience, then presumably the AM affects living and non-living things alike.
 > If both are subject to the same "laws", then this would seem tantamount to life
 > seeming to be "fated".

This apparency is the traditional sticking point, of course. Modern man is not willing to even consider such a threat to the presumption of free will. In my view, the dual is illusory, but that's not immediately relevant to this discussion.

 > I prefer the first possibility, if only because the _character_ of sentience as
 > it appears to be in human experience suggests it is possible. (The
 > constructionist account of human behaviour - which is gaining increasing
 > acceptance - _depends_, I suggest, on sentience having some real influence,
 > rather than being merely epiphenomenal).

Presumably the basis of real free will?

 > Historically, astrology has yielded to science in the effort to discover [snip]
 > is the concern of astrology.
 > I get from this that it matters if in so wresting the domain from astrology,
 > science "throws out the baby with the bathwater". On the other hand, if science
 > does the job astrologers will not, well...too bad.

This is, in fact, what has happened. Astrology, as viewed by scientists, *is* bathwater, and rather foul bathwater at that!

 > construct itself; we can contemplate the proposition that we did *not*
 > invent astrology (and the mechanisms thereof) but did in fact discover it's
 > existence and develop a means of gaining insight into its significance in
 > our lives.

I really should edit these posts! Of course we invented astrology.

 > but I'm sure that if repeatable
 > correlations between organic behaviour (properly operationalised to meet
 > reasonable standards of objectivity) and planetary positions (no problem about
 > objectivity here) are demonstrated, then the AM will be considered objective.

One would hope so, but science is done by scientists who have vested interests, etc. All too often results that don't fit the current model are simply discarded, and I suspect the current atmosphere will almost mandate that any results confirming the existence of such a mechanism will be dealt with summarily!

 > Parenthetically, perhaps we discovered _and_ invented astrology. So much of it
 > seems to bear the stamp of culture and of different forms of rationality.
 > Perhaps we discovered, long ago, some valid kernel and have since heavily
 > embroidered it.

You're right, of course. It was the kernal about which I spoke; we discovered the effect and created the construct now called astrology in order to interpret it.

 > Whilst my contributions to this list are modest, I hope that this one at least
 > will help matters along.

Modest as you think they are, they appear to be the only ones that don't dismiss out of hand the questions I ask as being irrelevant, etc. Thank you for that!

 > Otherwise, the effective (independent) cycles are all those that are completely
 > distinct: no harmonic inter-relationships.


 > This is the popular assumption. As I have said, cause and effect is not the
 > only type of mechanism that is possible; the involvement of the planets *is*
 > the basic tenet of astrology, however.
 > Well, I suspect that what I mean and "popular assumption" may be different
 > things. It seems rather trite to say that astrology involves cycles, a bit like
 > saying that motoring involves wheels or running involves feet. Yet there is
 > another way of looking at it (or am I mistaken?) that, admittedly granted a few
 > assumptions, makes the significance of cycles rather fundamental and almost
 > inevitable, without involving cause and effect per se. (If by cause and effect
 > you mean some kind of mechanical action). I see it as akin to the thought
 > experiments of Einstein (following Machian principles) concerning the meaning of
 > simultaneity in terms of observers and clocks, and hence his revolutionary view
 > of time that led to special relativity. My own particular thought experiment
 > also concerns an observer suspended in empty space, and a single event that the
 > observer is able to be conscious of in some way (let's say that a light turns on
 > and then off). Take a moment to imagine this situation, and then answer the
 > question: how would the observer be able to say (measure) 'how long was the
 > light on?'.
 > I submit that the observer would have no way of answering this question, not
 > even in such subjective terms as "briefly" or "for a long time". The observer
 > would be unable to tell the difference between a "microsecond" and a
 > "millenium". (If you like, you can also put this in terms of distance. There
 > is an object (just one) visible to the observer. Can the observer tell whether
 > it is close (and relatively small) or extremely distant (and huge)?
 > However, add a second event, which occurs within the duration of the first event
 > (ie, it is shorter than the first). Although there is still no absolute answer,
 > there is now I submit a sense of dimension, or perspective. The second event is
 > framed by the first. It is now meaningful to speak of longer and shorter
 > periods of time. Time begins to take form.
 > Now bring the thought experiment 'down to earth' by adding hundreds or thousand
 > of events, both overlapping and enveloping each other. We now have a convincing
 > illusion of time as something real and meaningful, or useable. But note that
 > the events of longest duration have a special status, for they frame (or
 > organise) all those that are shorter. Note also that whereas in physics it is
 > convenient to use the shortest possible quantities as fundamental units, as far
 > as "conscious" experience (the observer) is concerned the fundamental quantities
 > are actually the longer or longest units.
 > If this thought experiment is accepted as I have framed it, then _any_ longer
 > (and reliable) cycles within our experience _of which we are reliably and
 > continuously aware_ will provide this framing or organising function. I submit
 > that the planetary cycles are examples of such cycles - but it depends on our
 > _being reliably aware of them_. So long as we _are_ aware of them, then _that_
 > is the only "causation" required. I submit that this organising function has
 > _profound_ influence over our behaviour and responses. And this, I submit, _is_
 > the astrological mechanism, and it's "influence" upon behaviour.

Normally, I do not include the entire reference without snipping out the interior, but in this case, Andre has struck gold, I think. Obviously, the whole concept of time is subjective. The reason we seek its expression in objective physics is because it is found to be a fundamental aspect thereof. Objective time is a mechanical measurement of duration of process. Subjective time deals also with process, but without the mechanisms of measurement (unless such actually exist and are functional withing the brain, perhaps...).

Having said this, I hesitate to go further because the discussion quickly runs the risk of being mired in abstruse metaphysical considerations, all, some or none of which may be peripherally, materially or fundamentally relevant. The fact is, at this point, we really don't know.

I will offer the view that process cycles have archetypal constructions: the simplest of these might be Hegelian dialectic, ie., thesis, antithesis, sythesis. To some extent, I have used this idea in my (now moribund) practice, and it has been fruitful. Subjective time deals with these matters as ways of measuring changes and observing how the past can be made relevant to the present. This is very simplistic, of course, but at the most basic levels of brain function, it appears that just such considerations are primary.

It can be said that the brain has three basic levels of development: the hindbrain (reptilian brain), the limbic system, and the cerebrum. For the hindbrain, time does not exist, everything is present and immediate. The limbic system handles the fundamentals of memory and how it can be useful to prepare for (predict?) the potentials of the present; thus the limbic system creates the ability to perceive time: that which has happened as distinct from that which is happening. The cerebrum allows the construction of potential reality that is contingent on the present and past, thus creating the future.

Human beings (h.sap) has a sufficiently developed cerebrum to make potential reality as convincingly (viscerally) real as that which depends on sensory data for its existence. So for h.sap., time has become a continuum upon which the present moment has existence between what has gone before and what is yet to come. It can be said that the ability to make potential reality equally clear and present is what makes human beings different; humanity's ability to conceive of the future as having objective existence is it's unique strength.

So now I'm going to drop the unmentionable astrological bomb squarely in the middle of the discussion: whether we like it or not, the primary historical purpose of the practice of astrology was for *prediction*. The assumption was that the correspondence between celestial and terrestrial phenomena was dependable enough that something of the future could be predicted.

In very brief support of this assertion, I will offer the existence of calenders of some sort or other in almost every ancient culture/civilization. Their purpose was the same as it is today: calenders allow us to organize and inform our expectations of the future; they allow us to predict.

That astrology has traditionally claimed this ability is a matter of historical record. It is this claim that has cast astrology into disrepute; the mechanism it identifies and reveals is unknown, and thus the claim is unsubstantiatable. It must be observed, though, that virtually all aspects of historical astrology that *are* scientifically understood also deal with prediction; the only difference is that these mechanisms are understood.

The point of the issue about the necessity of the involvement of life is that, as far as I know, all the aspects that are scientifically understood do *not* require the involvement of life. If I am wrong in this, it should be pointed out and in some detail, because it would bear directly on the question at hand.

 > Indeed. The idea as first formulated is fairly simplistic. But I get the
 > impression from my colleagues and from my own efforts that this is exactly how
 > research ideas always start, and are progressively refined until they become
 > something useful through dialogue. Then the experiment begins.

And this is why we are conducting this discussion. This is how it begins, and it is my hope that we can begin the work of gaining understanding of astrology itself as an objective phenomenon, that we can start the process of making astrology a legitimate academic discipline.

 > It may actually be useful to reread some of Gauquelin's work in this regard, [snip]
 > Anyone who has a copy like to reread it and contribute here?
 > I have the book, and absent anyone else bothering to do so I will endeavour to
 > reread it at some future date - once I have satisfied my supervisor that I have
 > done the reading _he_ requires ;-).
 > Andre.

Good! I dunno anything about his references. Haven't checked any of them, but it *is* a place to start. Good science always begins with all the previous work available and at hand, hence, *re*search!

Good post, Andre, thanks!

Anyone else out there?



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