|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #66
Exegesis Digest Sat, 14 Aug 1999
Date: Sun, 8 Aug 1999 21:31:53 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: commentary on 4/63,64
Bill Sheeran responded thus to my statement of belief (Ex4/64):
> >I believe there exist archetypes of nature that generate and shape natural
> >forms and processes. Do archetypes generate manifest forms, or are they revealed in the manifest forms?
The contemporary theory of astrology that I outlined in "The Astrologer and the Paradigm Shift" (1992) skates over thin ice here and there. Bill has fingered one such area. It relates to a fairly common topic of debate in scientific philosophy; the extent to which the world is as we see it. We can attain relative objectivity by agreeing on descriptions of natural phenomena, but however much the weight of opinion increases with further consensus, we don't seem to be able to prove that nature is really like that.
The pragmatic response seems to prevail here: if the model seems the best available, adherents will multiply. But since prior paradigms stick like glue, true believers will not relocate to a better one, so adherents mostly come in practice from younger generations.
Another consideration is the reality-creating function, or perhaps I really mean consequences, of perception. Do we see circles in our eyes when we look in the mirror because they are there?
I suspect Andre & Dale could answer this from their psychological perspectives better than me, and I hope they do, so I'll just air my bias. I'll recycle the old Zen query: does the tree falling in the forest make a sound if there's nobody there to hear it? Of course it does. Physical vibrations are transmitted through both air and ground, and any animals and birds in the vicinity take off in fright. You could set up a remote video camera to prove it. But I think the Zen master was trying to teach the subjective nature of our experience of phenomena. A sound is normally described as a subjective experience.
Applying the logic to Bill's question, we must separate our subjective experience of seeing the circles round our pupils and irises from the (theoretical) objective reality the circles appear to portray. Do circles exist, then, outside of human perception? As far as I know, we cannot tell. Photos and other techniques for detecting the pattern that appear to bypass our personal sensory input actually just create an artificial representation of the natural pattern, removing the circle from nature, but still it remains subjective when we identify it visually.
Then Bill's question has another dimension of interest and relevance: the archetype is there in nature, we might all agree, but is it revealed in each manifestation, or does it form that manifestation. Does the spiral form the galaxy, and the nautilus? Or is it merely revealed in the like shapes? Preference of choice between these options is driven by personal taste, I guess. To me the latter option just seems limp-wristed and unconvincing.
Bill also wrote "we do have the fundamental problem of not having in focus a contemporary set of paradigmatic guidelines. This makes effective reasoning difficult. On the other hand, astrology draws strongly (in my opinion) on our non-rational faculties in a way that is more overt than their use in science. I think this should be fully acknowledged. The act of interpreting a set of symbolic patterns in astrology is different from interpreting the digital readouts of instruments. One striking feature of astrology is the extent to which, unlike science, it is not a universal language. Not only are there different cultural expressions of astrology (across both temporal and geographical borders), but within a given culture (especially in the west) there is a huge and growing diversity of techniques. And all astrologers think their techniques work. While this observation is often used to make criticisms, whether from sceptics, or from astrologer to astrologer, it may be suggesting that the usual processes of rational exclusion (e.g. arguing that the tropical and sidereal zodiacs can't both be valid) might lead to one missing the point. It may simply be a culturally determined error to try to apply Aristotelian logic to astrology."
Fair enough. So why not conclude that astrology as generally practised is an art, not a science? I did, long ago. This has nothing to do with the mechanism, synchronicity, `as above, so below'. Reasoning in the arena of metaphysics seems closer to science, even if the construction of new paradigms is the product of artistry. So "the fundamental problem of not having in focus a contemporary set of paradigmatic guidelines" may only be a problem if you want your new paradigm to be testable, huh, as Bill T & Andre do? And what if astrology actually is potentially a relatively universal language? I mean, if we agree on keywords that accurately convey the essence of the archetypes with the same (or very similar) meanings in different cultures. This seems likely to be readily achievable with most planetary archetypes, even if the signs and houses are impossible to export trans-culturally still.
Bill further comments that all this "leaves us with the spectre of relativism to deal with. But that is increasingly becoming a general problem within the arena of post-modern philosophical discourse, and will be teased out over the years (a process from which astrology can only benefit)." Agreed. I have been endeavouring to point out that relativity is the issue when considering meanings derived from frames of reference in the local cosmos and horoscope, the subjective/objective issue, fate/freewill.
> >In 4/58 Bill Sheeran made a number of points which I had also made in this
> >list previously, but I will address another that I may disagree with. A
> >research scientist in which field, Bill? Glad you decided to participate
> >here "Sorry about the repetition, and thanks for the welcome. My scientific research field was biochemistry and microbiology (in the context of preventing diseases in intensive aquaculture operations)."
Hey Bill, no apology necessary! I appreciated you making those points. I was noting the extent of agreement. I feel that it is necessary for me to do this, as astrologers are so congenitally idiosyncratic that like-mindedness is taken for granted or ignored. Since I have always been a non-conformist, never using methods, meanings and presumptions that most astrologers think are an integral part of astrology, and since I remain confident that my way is more realistic than theirs, I feel obliged to document an alternative consensus where possible. I have always assumed that others on the leading edge of civilisation also want to discover real astrology, so try to emphasise areas of agreement to help gel the emerging paradigm.
So how do you see your scientific expertise applying to the subject matter of this list, Bill? No specific relevance? Do you then come here as a generalist, like me? The world sure needs lots more generalists (still).
Incidentally, I am aware that post-modern fashion requires people to deny such old-fashioned notions as reality, excellence, being correct. I choose to differ. Interpreting relativism as meaning that everyone's description of reality is equally valid, no matter how thick the author, just leads to terminal vacuity. Might as well revert to watching television.
The '60s revulsion against a sterile elitism was necessary, but it's a goddam huge pendulum with lots of inertia, and it has kept going in the direction of pluralism long after the '80s bland-out required it to begin a swing back toward expertise and (dare I say it?) rectitude.
"There has to be a better word than mechanism to describe morphogenetic fields and the holomovement." Perhaps there is, but it has not occurred to me. OK, a challenge to all current (and imminent) contributors here: find and report this better word, please!
Thanks for all your detailed feedback on Cornelius, Hindsight & Schmidt, Bill. It was all most interesting and reassuring and I will adopt your recommendations re preconceptions and further reading.
Candy wrote (Ex4/63): "I don't know if you have ever studied the 'enneagram'. It is a system of nine-fold personality typology derived from the Sufi tradition, popularised by Gurdjieff/Ouspensky and more recently embraced by various Jesuit groups. It recognises 3 fundamental ways of 'knowing' -- head, heart and gut."
Do you have any particular intuition about this, Candy? Any correlation with astrological categories, I mean. I have sometimes, in the past decade or so since they started showing up, checked these books out briefly in bookstores, but never found one that seemed to feature anything substantial. I therefore assumed the concept was just more new-age artifice. Being a Sufi tradition is news to me, so maybe the substance is there to be discovered.
There are two points of interest here: the first, why 9? The second; I know with my feelings, my intuition, and my memory. Experientially, I am aware that these are different sources of knowledge. Do they correlate directly with head/heart/gut? Memory indeed seems to correlate with head, feeling with gut, but I'm not so sure about intuition and heart.
"Astrology's earliest roots lie in the practise of divination", wrote Candy, but I wonder if any surviving evidence seems to bear this out. They certainly lie in the observation of synchronicity: `as above, so below'. Those earliest cuneiform tablets, predicting consequences of planetary positions for local kings in Mesopotamia, imply prior deduction from prior observations. Noting a major political event, and learning from the concurrent planetary correlations, seems to have happened first.
Candy: "what we are doing with NA is, more often than not, in the absence of an absolutely correct birth time, equivalent to a 'divinatory' reading". I think this point is valid, but not sure to what extent. What makes me uneasy about agreeing fully is the quite unpalatable implication that the real birth time is irrelevant. I thought your rationale for horary was altogether pretty good, Candy, even though I don't use it. The points about context I emphatically agree with. It felt rather off-the-wall at the time in '91, when I gave a chapter of my book the heading "Context", but the heavyweight quotes I had compiled made such a telling point about meaning that I knew it was fully justified.
I was a late-comer to the I Ching, but have been using it about a decade. I made the transition from sympathetic sceptic to impressed sceptic to awe-inspired advocate. But I believe the verdicts only inspire awe due to my particular method of interpretation: I use a cross-section of interpretive sources. Any one author seems to have a grip of only part of the elephant. I currently own 12 sources, carefully selected, of which I normally use only the best 4 (sometimes 6). Wilhelm is one I don't use, Jung notwithstanding. This right-brain method, accessing the underlying whole meaning by using likely-sounding parts from each source like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, can also be used to refine the interpretive language of astrology.
"Horary, and any divinatory techniques like the tarot and the I Ching, suggest that by becoming aware of the quality of a moment, we can change the quality of the next moment, simply through the conscious act of awareness. One moment is qualitatively different to the next and therefore nothing stays the same. I think this is also the case with empowering therapies, such as Rogerian 'client-centred' type therapies, narrative therapy, and perhaps even astrology at its potentially POMO person-centered best. What these approaches suggest to me is that the 'self' is not a static entity, a belief which I think traditional astrology has tended to reinforce. Rather, the 'self' is in *process* of development and unfoldment. And perhaps there is no such thing as an 'essential' self. Perhaps we are many selves."
How about the self as a team of dancers? Integration of component drives of the psyche, a la Rudhyar, optimises co-ordination and performance. Dancers initially following a different drummer eventually get in tune/harmony/rhythm with the others.
Finally, I just happened on a reference to the human biological clock in a library book that goes some way to answering Bill Tallman's request for verification. "Human beings deprived of clocks, sunlight, and all other indications of time, says sleep-psychologist Richard Coleman, would shift to a twenty-five hour day." Source: "Mathsemantics", Edward MacNeal, 1994, p197. The author proceeds to quote Coleman: "Since our natural day length gravitates to 25 hours, it is much easier to stay up later than to go to bed earlier. In general, our 25-hour clock can be reset about 2 hours each day, allowing humans to live comfortably on a 23 to 27 hour day."
Remember that the main point for our purposes is not so much that we can reset our entrainment from environmental cues each day, but that we are apparently entrained by the lunar day rather than the diurnal cycle. This seems substantial evidence that the Moon plays an influential part in our biological development, and gives us a rationale for assuming that the number of lunations per solar year has fundamental developmental significance. The 12 equal subdivisions of the year therefore provide us with a common substratum of qualitative time.
Too bad they don't perform the division accurately or consistently!
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 66
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