|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #70
Exegesis Digest Mon, 13 Sep 1999
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999 18:54:49 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
I've been largely silent for some weeks now for several reasons. One of those was to see what would happen to the discussion on this list if I were to lurk for a while; I'm happy to see that there continues to be contributions from Dennis Frank and Bill Sheeran, and that these are substantive. How long this will last, if it has not already slowed to a halt, remains to be seen. I suspect it will eventually die away because there are no other contributors to make it worthwhile to continue, as has apparently happened several times here in the past.
Another reason was that it became obvious that my point of view was held by only one or two contributors, and that it was considered irrelevant and unnecessary by most others. I had previously supposed that I had not argued my case clearly enough, but it now appears that this is not so; it was, in the main, rejected. So I've taken the time to consider these matters, with the intent to discern whether it was appropriate for me to continue in this venue: the point is whether I have anything to offer any other discussions without settling for the position of the critic, indeed, even the naysayer. I don't know.
Of several observations I would offer, the first is that any uncritical dependence at all on the opinions of others, especially those expressed in books, is a good way to give over any requirement for establishing one's own point of view. The practice of doing this has a name: and it is Authoritarianism. Solid scholarship requires that all sources be related to primary evidence, and that these sources undergo extensive critical review as a part of scholarly research. If this is not done, then all that results is the propagation of myth, which does not serve to further serious exploration.
The reason I point this out is that there is almost *no* primary evidence popularly extant in the field of astrological theory or practice. Anything said either for or against astrology in any way is almost certain to be based simply on opinion, which leaves the scholarly side of any investigation of astrology pretty much high and dry. One of the claims against astrology is based on this paucity of material: there is no real evidence to support it, therefore it has no real basis for existence. Such a claim assumes that one can prove a negative, which cannot be done. All one can say is that there is no extant evidence, and I would suggest that the next step would be to wonder why this is so. Why is there no solid primary evidence for the theoretical soundness of astrology?
It certainly is not hard to answer this, for the history of suppression of astrological practice in the last couple of millennium is well known. One can then ask if solid primary evidence is deliberately hidden, or if it indeed does not exist (has never existed). Given the continuing rather rabid compulsion against astrology, one suspects that *something* exists, or existed. If this is so, I think the chances are pretty good that primary evidence does exist, but is not extant for whatever reason. To me, this suggests the possibility that this evidence can somehow be made available, and that serious scholarship based on that evidence could go forth. That would position gratuitous opinion where it belongs: in the realm of... well, gratuitous opinion, as opposed to useful material for the consideration of astrology.
But the practice of Authoritarianism is by far not limited to discussions of astrology; it is, in fact, one of the most rampant and debilitating that exist, or so I think.
For example, let us consider some of the popular buzz-words currently in use. "Determinism" is a good one. The OED defines it as the recognition of the existence of external force. A good antithesis might be Solipsism, which does not recognize the existence of external force. The point of interest that seems to be evident in the discussions recently made here is precisely the matter of external force. I would suggest that a reasonable man acknowledges that there are indeed forces external to him/herself, but that this fact does not mandate the non-existence of internal forces as well. Hence, these "isms" are simply expressions of extremes, of pure archetypes of being, etc.
Unfortunately, Determinism became the descriptive term for a fairly extreme position held by classical physicists, who said that, given a point of departure all else could be predicted by calculation (if such were possible). What this actually addressed was the assumption that there existed an absolute frame of reference in the universe, presumably enforced by some undetected attribute of the universe (the aether, flogistan, whatever...). Classical (Newtonian) physics reigned supreme for two centuries, from the end of the 17th to the end of the 19th, and in this time physics provided a cornucopia of advancement in understanding of our universe and ourselves. It still remains valid on the scale of the human modular, although it now rests on relativity and quantum mechanics below that level.
Much was made of the fact that classical physics lost its supreme position beginning with the Michelson-Morley experiment and ending with the decisive defeat by means of nuclear weaponry of Japan in W2. It is exactly *what* was made of that process that is my bone of contention here. The assumption that a generalized and popularized view of a scientific hypothesis might actually have valid applicability to the human species, especially its culture, would leave me scratching my head if I weren't aware of how that came to be. Suddenly, "Determinism" has become this monster that threatens to eat us all if it is not compulsively repelled and repudiated! The reason for this is that now "Determinism" seems to be the name of a philosophical point of view that human beings are robots, preprogrammed to live their lives, without any opportunity for self guidance.
To me, it looks like the use of the word in the context of science gave it credibility, and when it lost its supreme position in that context, it became the scapegoat for man's well known propensity for "going with the flow (inevitably downhill)", whether it be for his/her own benefit or not. The context of the word in the world of astrology is obvious; there is a school of thought that astrology actually is valid and therefore the horoscope reveals in some manner those external forces within which context we have our existence. A rejection of "Determinism" on the grounds that science has toppled classical physics from its supreme position is now used to support the contention that astrology cannot possibly do what it advertises, because to do so would be an example of "Determinism", which Science has now "proven" not to exist.
Does anyone else see anything wrong with all this?
Another such buzz word is Post Modernism, the venue of Post Modern philosophy. Almost all that has been put forth as relevant here is that there exists a need to "deconstruct"..... well, it would seem that the need applies to anything that existed during the period of Modern philosophy, whatever that is. Or so it appears to me, and I think I see like views from some of the others on this list.
There are *always* people from some field or other that assert exceptional insight into matters of present interest, and it is generally thought that their best course of action is to write a (series of) book(s). I cannot tell you how thankful I personally am that this is the case; there are *all* those fascinating viewpoints that are not mine out there for me to sample! In some sense, these form primary material as critical commentaries on those matters, at least to the extent they deal directly with those matters themselves. Then there are the commentators and analysts of these works, presumably intended to vet them academically in a scholarly fashion... but that would be a dangerous assumption, I think.
What we get instead is a continuing series of generalizations of these insights until "schools of philosophy" are developed to formalize this process. Eventually, the school of philosophy threatens to replace the reality it is advertised to represent, people stop thinking for themselves because someone else (who is "much" smarter and more educated and therefore qualified) has already done the work. The concept of herds of sheep come to mind.....
The fact that this is so is tragically apparent as exemplified in the history of mankind, and it is the way that power accrues to those who would assert it and arrogate it. It seems to be a statement of the human condition, sadly enough.
Now, we are adjured to "deconstruct" astrology, presumably because astrology existed in the time of Modern philosophy, with no intention to "reconstruct" astrology afterwards. This spells "destruction" and wanton destruction at that, as far as I am concerned.
Then there is the issue of "free will", which is said to be threatened by the validity of astrology. I note that there is no discernible definition of what "free will" might be, and so out of deference to the potential discussion of the subject, I will not offer unilateral commentary. Suffice it to say that in my view, the lack of any definition suggests that the issue is so poorly understood that any discussion of it lacks useful worth.
So much for this first observation.
The second I would offer is this: Philosophy, among other things, was traditionally the field in which what we "don't" know was addressed. This has changed; that function has now been awarded to science, and as a result, the nature of philosophy itself has undergone a rather deep change. This does not mean, however, that philosophy no longer serves that function at all, but that it serves when science cannot. In the areas of interest where science has not found application, philosophy still serves to formulate hypotheoretical structures for the purpose of guiding further investigative action. A very potent weapon in the arsenal of philosophy is logic, which has been extremely well developed in recent times. It is logic that allows the work of philosophical investigation to interface with science, for logic and mathematics have common roots; as logic serves philosophy, so mathematics serves science.
But that is not all that philosophy embraces, of course. All areas of the human experience are valid areas of philosophical inquiry. The basic idea is to see how these areas are ordered to comprise the entire human experience itself, that is, how they are related themselves and what is created by that (those) relationship(s). What has changed is the appropriateness of unfounded assumptions, I think. This tends to eliminate large segments of cultural and social reality; in the west, this tends to include religion in its institutionalized forms. In general, then, it is even more incumbent on philosophy than it was in the days of Socrates to *ask questions*. It is important, vitally important, to recognize that asking questions is not the same thing as engaging in skeptical rejection.
So philosophy and science have evolved an almost symbiotic relationship, I think, and if this is not understood, a great deal of energy and time can be wasted, as well as tragic consequences wrought. What does this mean to astrology? The answer should be obvious.
I submit that there will never be any progress in the situation of astrology until enough astrologers can understand and accept this specific point of view. Science cannot by itself either support or detract from astrology, nor can philosophy. It is people who do those things, and they do so all too often through the misuse and abuse of these two intellectual tools. Astrology is the home ground of astrologers, and it is theirs to defend; I would suggest that those tools are just as available to astrologers as anyone else.
So much for that point.
I intend in the near future to acquire a complete array of the work of Project Hindsight, as it seems to me that it is the only viable work being done at the moment. As Bill Sheeran noted, Schmidt certainly does not lack for credentials. I have followed their work on the periphery, not having the opportunity to effectively decide whether I wanted to be actively involved. At first, scholarly translations were being done from various cultural venues, and they were being made available for a small fee for testing. I don't know whether that is still the case, but it now appears that one of those venues has yielded a successful astrological structure. In any case, I will certainly acquire all that is to be had in that regard, with the intention of applying it myself on some number of cases where excellent data is available to me.
I've no idea when this will all come about, much less when I might have results to share; the sloth factor that arises in retirement is at once a dark trap and a healing balm after the vicissitudes of work are past. Nevertheless, I hope something will be forthcoming to share.
That "fuzzy logic" appears to remarkably effective does not indicate that "fuzzy thinking" is effective as well.
Order has collapsed, and now chaos as well, and we are left with complexity, so it seems. This does not mean that we should uncritically accepted indeterminacy and opacity as fundamentals in our life. Complexity is a dynamic process, between the realms of order and chaos, in which both cohesiveness and renewal is sought, where life is lived as close to the edges of chaos (source of renewal) as can be found adequately sound in support of robustness. The struggle of life is for a consistency in that dynamic medium.... a state of being "piece-wise continuous", perhaps. Indeterminacy and opacity are the default states that inevitably lead to death; life struggles for cohesiveness and clarity in that context.
As above so below does not mean that there are things above that mankind was never meant to know. We *can* understand (eventually) the entire functional complexity of the brain and how it is the manifestation of (itself manifests?) the mind, and that does not mandate that the soul will cease to exist. We *can* accept and pursue an understanding of the reality of astrology without fearing that it will take us over and we will sacrifice said soul on the altar of a valid and effective >>physically based < astrology.
Philosophy will guide, but science will demonstrate, the reality of astrology, regardless of the opinions or whims of any one of us.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 70
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