|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #73
Exegesis Digest Fri, 24 Sep 1999
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 21:32:20 -0400
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #72
I here observe what appears to be echoes of previous discussions on this
list, except now involving the two Bill's.
Bill Tallman wrote:
> >>>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. As I recall, when the word "deconstruction" was broached within the context Bill critiques it here, I responded in one of my very first posts:
> >gentlemen, be careful with deconstruction. You both correctly define its
> >ideal end: to lead away from destruction, but like the famous "talking
> >cure" of the therapeutic couch, it can lead to nowheresville, the vicious,
> >navel-gazing polemic of the narcissist.
No one responded, perhaps because I didn't pursue my deconstruction in line
with what was already being discussed on the list, i.e., science, primal
numbers, mechanisms, and this, framed within the implicit requirement for
substantive, not ephemeral, or even ruminative, contributions--although I
did enter under the aegis of Cornelius, not unlike Bill Sheeran.
Deconstructing something that is at least more complicated than a Lego set
would demand a rather longer wait before "reconstruction," as Bill suggests
above, could even be attempted. The fact that this post-modern and highly
specialized word has developed a life of its own on Exegesis, and is
included in the same paragraph as "destruction" frightens me, Bill. Your
creating this correspondence "presumably because astrology existed in the
time of Modern philosophy," as you note above, is inscrutable to me since
most subjects that I have ever seen on this list post-date astrology--with
the exception of the free will and fate debate--ably and passionately
commandeered by Candy, but that too seems to have been shunted aside.
But in this instance, Bill Sheeran responded to Bill Tallman's
thoughtful presumptiveness so:
> >>I think it is very important to take a hard look at what we think
> >>astrology is, given the fact that we have a pre-modern subject wearing
> >>modern clothes. Demonstrating the validity of astrology is impossible
> >>if we don't take all the layers of clothing off the emperor (maybe
> >>that should be empress). ..which reminds me so much of this post: "It is more like the screen on a computer, each window opened being a layer added onto another layer, technically speaking. Multitasking on a computer is close to what I'm trying to describe, for in multitasking, many operations are conducted at once, some related, some not, some to the same end as others, some with different ends, virtually simultaneously and equally valuable, or covalent. In linguistics, this is polylogous discourse, multi-phonic, no one voice having privilege over another." Six of one, half-dozen of the other, isn't it? Then, Bill Sheeran ends on this note:
> >And astrology will eventually expand the horizons of science, although
> >as that process unfolds, the subject will be hijacked and assimilated
> >under an assumed name. Again, uncannily similar to this post and one of Andre's: "I fully appreciate that this is the trap set for the demystification of the anti-rational: its utter co-optation by either the scientism that abhors and fears it, or by that lay spiritualism which is so ready to ambush anything science cannot define and appropriate for and to itself." It all just seems so familiar which is why I felt I could just jump in and pick up where I left off (which was quite a while ago). Is a zipper stuck somewhere, or is it my bra clasp? Onwards, gentlemen--a cigar for both of you as you continue your manly discussion in the den, and one for Dennis, whose posts invariably empty my printer's ink cartridge. As for me, the dishes are done and I come to join you in the den. Warm Regards, Cynthia
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 01:28:58 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #72
Hello Bill Sheeran,
> >>Why is there no solid
> >>primary evidence for the theoretical soundness of astrology?
> >Because no one knows what to look for. Or perhaps we are all looking
> >in the wrong direction.
This is quite probably the truth, by and large.
One of the problems is that we have engaged in astrological revisionism to the extent that the older practices have been largely lost, and so there is no dependable clinical history from which to draw. Another problem is that, because astrology was strongly co-opted by the Roman Church when the Arabs brought it with them, it's really difficult to know what, if anything, we've no chance of discovering. We know, for instance, of Claudius Ptolemy because the RC didn't manage to suppress the Almagest, and we know of other writers for various similar reasons, but we cannot say that we have any idea about the completeness of our knowledge in these regards.
In general, then, not only is there a dearth of clinical data, there isn't enough historical work still available to really understand how they (the Greeks astrologers and their predecessors) viewed the astrological reality in their day. We believe we can interpolate from the works of the philosophers and commentators of the time and extrapolate valid insights therefrom, but we really don't know for certain.
The truth of the matter is, however, that astrology actually does have a cohesive and internally consistent theoretical structure! Unfortunately, we seem to be at a loss to comprehend how that structure could be valid in terms we can understand. The result is, of course, that it is very easy to conclude that the structure is therefore invalid and deserving only to be ignored or cast aside. How can we understand "elements", "modes", "humours", "rulerships", etc., etc.? To the modern mind, they make no discernable sense at all, unless they are taken allegorically; in that case, it devolves into a polite battle between different schools of mythical interpretation, yielding nothing of worth, I suggest.
In any case, if there is any validity at all to the work of Alan Leo, then this is what we have and where we must start to look, I think. I can imagine a process of gathering all these concepts and ordering them in the manner in which they appear to have been generally applied, and then looking in other cultures for similar and/or analogous concepts. The sought result would be a more complete compendium of how they were defined and used, with an eye to noting both commonalities and significant differences. This would certainly lead us well beyond the bounds of astrology proper, and would serve to elucidate how astrology was embedded in the fundamental cosmology common to all cultures and usages. Yes, we know some amount of this already, but we need to learn much more, I think, before we can begin the task of seeking the way we understand (or still don't understand) these things in modern times.
We probably need to acknowledge that this area is properly recognized as modern Western metaphysics, including such things as the Tarot, Qabala, etc, all of which have been conveniently placed under the rubric of mystical religious mythology. This is, of course, the arena in which it is proper to smile and be tolerant of everyone's right to their own private internal reality, even though we *know* those people are looney tunes (or the equivalent). In consequence, this area is frought with traps and pitfalls, so care should be taken to engage in proper scholarship, etc. Nevertheless, I suggest that this is what should be done.
> >>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.
> >Perceived truths have a habit of solidifying into highly resilient
> >dogmas. Today's heresy is tomorrow's truth and the future's doctrine.
> >When the central dogmas in a culture emerge in coincidence with the
> >preclusion of a discipline or activity such as astrology, one should
> >possibly question the value of attempting to validate astrology in
> >terms of those dogmas. Tools such as reasoning and logic are not
> >dogmas, but rules as to what it takes for something to be considered
> >real are.
You're right, of course. I was decrying the deliberate manipulation of these processes by those who can do so, in the interests of those whose agenda are worth the cost of doing so. Perceived truths are where we start here, I think. The whole idea, so it was said, was to pursue the truth, whatever that was; instead, what we continue to get is the convenient (sufficiently subtle) distortion of what was/is found such that suits the agenda of the powerful (follow the money...). Authoritarianism is a primary modality in accomplishing this sort of thing.
> >From my point of view, I agree we should refrain from escorting our Lady the Queen of Sciences to the Temples of Scientism.... well, the gods are tolerant these days, I mean, what god would risk being sued by another god.... but the whole idea seems somewhat tacky, don'tcha know < grin >
No, tools are not dogma, but they are all too often misused and abused in the creation of such, sadly....
> >>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.
> >I would argue that modern astrological determinism (in the west) is a
> >perspective which has been highly influenced by the prevailing notion
> >of mechanistic determinism which flourished in the 17th-19th
> >centuries. What modern astrology advertises needs to be revised in
> >light of a more expanded perception of order and process, one which
> >includes the presence of the indeterminate.
I guess I didn't make it clear that I was citing an argument made by others... sorry. The prevailing notion of mechanisitic determinism appears to be an historical reality, although it's not clear to me where that notion was most firmly grounded. That classical mechanics was and is still taught as the primary approach in physics is probably the cause of that notion, I suspect. It was always clear that the working physicists never had any illusions about the nature of the universe: classical mechanics is, by definition, deterministic to the extent that it treats continuous phenomena; it was always obvious that the universe was not predictably cooperative in those regards, and that it continued to have this nasty habit of turning up discontinuities, etc. So, while classical mechanics is deterministic, the universe itself is, and always has been, obviously not.
One of the more accessable examples of this is the ongoing collection of anomolistic findings. Sometimes they were simply ignored, sometimes noted as unexplained, sometimes regarded as the result of operational error, etc. Those were explanations, or the lack thereof, however; but it was always clear that these, among other things, were the signs that the universe did not completely fit within the classical framework. It was most probably in the universities and colleges where the notion of a more universal concept of determinism was put forth. From there to the lay public......
> >>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.
> >Post modern sensibility has not been imposed by a group of
> >philosophers. Instead, the philosophers are attempting to make sense
> >of an identifiable shift in western culture, one which showed itself
> >in the arts, architecture, literature and so on long before it emerged
> >in either science or philosophy. It is, to use another buzz word, an
> >emergent property of humanity's cognitive capacity. Western cultural
> >perspectives have not been deconstructed - they've fallen apart under
> >the weight of their own inertial mass. It's very hard to maintain the
> >extension of enlightenment ideals into the present in an unadulterated
> >form when the world has shrunk to the extent that it has courtesy of
> >air travel and the communications revolution. The selection pressure
> >for an evolutionary leap in how we perceive things is massive at the
> >present time. Astrology is a culturally grounded phenomenon. It is
> >clearly going to evolve just like everything else, or go extinct if it
> >is no longer of any value.
Aha. A much more informative exposition on PostModernism. What you are saying, if I understand aright, is that Modernism is the extension of Enlightenment ideals into the 20th century. I take it that this means the basic reigning technocracy of our times is seen to have its basis in the notion that God is properly seen in His Earthly Manifestation, and that Science is thus the proper form of worship (thinks he has his Enlightenment conceptual ducks in the proper row here...). If this is indeed what you are saying, I must say that it does sound quite reasonable. The problem, I think, is that it is not adequately descriptive.
Although a lot of commercial art is exemplary of "form follows function" and as such, imposes a rather mechanistic idealism on the human reality, there is the ongoing rejection of such, complete with angst and cynicism. It would appear that this would inhibit the continuation of Enlightenment Idealism, which I would think is a more appropriate expression of Victorian Romanticism. Modern Philosophy would thus seem to have to address the death of Enlightenment (Manifest Destiny, etc), and thus preside over the continual decay of vertically structured constructs of cultural perception. I have been long remiss in remaining up to date in these matters, so I'm at a loss to know what it is that philosophers see that is different in these regards.
> >>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.
> >I think it is very important to take a hard look at what we think
> >astrology is, given the fact that we have a pre-modern subject wearing
> >modern clothes. Demonstrating the validity of astrology is impossible
> >if we don't take all the layers of clothing off the emperor (maybe
> >that should be empress). It's not that astrology has no clothes - it's
> >that she is weighed down by them. If that process is called
> >deconstruction, then I'm all for deconstruction. The essence of
> >astrology lies underneath its surface appearance. We clothe it in the
> >latest fashion. I don't have a problem with that per se, but if we
> >don't have any sense of what the body looks like, the clothes will be
> >ill fitting. And the clothes which the Greeks used, or the Babylonians
> >or whoever are equally ill fitting today, whatever about their
> >appropriateness in the past.
Again, I'm citing the opinion of others. The notion of Astrology as the Empress with No Clothes is interesting.. < grin > . The problem is, as you say, that all those clothes are current, in order to give some sort of perceivable form to what remains from what went before. Most of the garb that dates to last century is pretty much peasant wear, a sack cloth tunic sans belt. All the pretty raiment is of this century and is still strongly subscribed and therefore in style.
So you are saying in another way what I've been saying. Let's reverse this process of trying to bring something we don't understand into conformity with what is currently perceived to be appropriate. If we find the present state of the astrological condition to be unsatisfactory, then I submit we must accept that it is our current definitions that make it so. We really don't know all that much about what the Greeks or Babylonians regarded as appropriate garb for astrology, I think.
> >>Then there is the issue of "free will", which is said to be threatened by
> >>the validity of astrology.
> >Free will is not threatened by the validity of astrology. It is
> >however contrary to the tenets of hardcore astrological determinism,
> >itself quite a rare belief system in the past (prior to mechanistic
> >thinking). Perhaps the Stoics came closest, and their Roman fans.
Of course "free will" is not threatened by astrology, presuming, that is, that astrology is valid. One of the perquisites of "free will" is the choice to peer into the future to the extent possible, in order to gain "ramp up time" for what comes next. One of the ways, if there is anything to astrology, is the use of astrology itself.
Now, about absolute determinism: we have to remember that the given in all this is that we've no way of knowing what the mechanisms of the future are in any completely convincing sense. We are all aware that there really appears to be no such thing as a deterministic future; all too often the unexpected and the catastrophic arrives instantaneously, apparently violating the notion that no change takes place in zero time! Well, if the change *had* had a temporal component, we would not have been quite so blind-sided, would we... < grin > So we all know that the likelihood of determinism actually having any significant existence is rather vanishingly small... but we certainly wouldn't mind a useful bit of it at times, would we?
> >From that point of view, it seems more reasonable to wish for rather than reject the notion of a deterministic means of forecasting. The point of contention is, of course, that we want to have the option to *control* what is determined, and not have that taken out of our hands. So while we would find a deterministic forcaster quite convenient, we would retain the ability to modify what is forecast as we please. If it were in any way apparent that we could actually control the workings of a deterministic astrology, I doubt whether there would be any discernable hue and cry in these regards.
> >>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.
> >It gets very interesting when philosophy (the study of what we can't
> >know) interfaces with science (the study of what we don't know).
> >Philosophical speculation on the logic and methodology used in the
> >grand project of science (and its limitations) is a most illuminating
> >subject for study. The most interesting areas for contemplation are
> >those where such limitations become highly problematical.
A fascinating definition of philosophy, I think. I'll have to think about that some. What defines what we *can't* know?
> >>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.
> >I'm by no means anti-science or anti-maths, but I think that both are
> >based on unfounded or a priori assumptions. However, this
> >philosophical truth is largely ignored within science and maths
> >without leading to too many negative consequences (yet).
Ummm.... are you saying that science and mathematics are based on unfounded and/or a priori assumptions? I think I'd disagree here. That any construct assumes a context is a given, and science and mathematics are so constrained. The question is whether those contextual underpinnings are valid. If they are not, that fact is demonstrated at some point and changes are made. That's part of the process. That is one of the ways in which progress in understanding is made...process of elimination (rather inelegant terminology..). It's labor intensive and can certainly take its toll on those involved who make the mistake of arrogating a position as a personal asset; the position takes the arrogator along for the crash, don'tcha know < grin > . But those things are exemplary of human frailty and not of the unsoundness of the process.
The fact is, I think, that we will find Science (and Mathematics) will always exhibit the facility to turn towards the light, driven by succeeding generations bent on righting the last mis-steps of their predecessors. When the negative consequences become sufficiently onerous, there will inevitably be the gang of Young Turks out to make their own name by solving the problems. The practicing scientists and mathematicians have their hands full just doing their own work, and the larger movements of their field are probably perceived as being mostly irrelevant; things always come out in the wash, or everyone finds out that stains remain to be addressed!
> >>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.
> >I agree completely. In order to ask questions in a constructive and
> >creative way, one needs to be able to think. But most people aren't
> >taught to think at school (it's too subversive). Instead they are
> >taught how to learn, which is a different matter altogether. Thinking
> >is subversive, which is why intellectuals are always first up against
> >the wall in periods of revolutionary fervour.
You have no idea how profoundly gratified I am to know that someone else perceives that the ability to think is an unacceptably rare commodity.
The short version of my whole argument on this list is that there needs to be some thinking done about all this, and I don't mean learning all the apparently applicable ideas and concepts of others and then trying to see how to make palatable stew of those ingredients. The latter is an honorable and necessary endeavor and it is called research.... note *re*search... in order to keep plowing the field for more yield. What I'm talking about is simply accepting things as they are, or appear to be, and then applying what one supposes to be true in general to the process of allowing those things to identify themselves in their own right. This must always be assumed to require something entirely new, hithertofore unknown, so that the willingness to entertain whatever presents itself is kept active; often this something is either not recognized or does not present itself, but it must be accepted, nevertheless. The reason for this is that we always have to have a means to find how what we have supposed to be true has changed, whether it was a misperception to begin with or a difference resulting from some unmonitored process, etc. Etc, etc, ad naus.
If we can do this with astrology, perhaps we can find our way back to what it was as it was originally seen, and we can bring it forward to our time without the eviscerating effects of suppression and egreqious revision. It would then acquire its own clothes, such that would serve to identify it for what it was and (hopefully) still is.
> >>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.
> >Agreed. I also think that if astrologers interfaced with the
> >appropriate disciplines (especially cognitive science) that it can
> >contribute much to alleviating the areas which remain fog bound for
> >science, which is handicapped by a blindness to its own limitations.
This is certainly true, I think. Clearly, a significant aspect of astrology is the human experience thereof, which is squarely within the purview of the cognitive sciences, I presume. I would again make the point, however, that it should not limit itself thus; so far, we have not discovered anything that has objective existence that can be shown to be beyond the proper purview of science itself, and I still maintain that the astrological effect is a physical phenomenon.
> >>I intend in the near future to acquire a complete array of the work of [snip]
> >>excellent data is available to me.
> >You will find Schmidt's work very stimulating, especially his thoughts
> >on conceptualising astrology. They are somewhat idiosyncratic, but
> >worthy of attention.
I'll let you know what I discover!
> >>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.
> >I would argue that order and clarity are also default states that
> >inevitably lead to death too. If a system is to evolve, it needs to be
> >open to the indeterminate. Unpredictability is a fundamental and
> >necessary aspect of life. whether it be the decay of radioactive
> >material (one can't predict when the next beta particle will be
> >released), or the random mutation events which according to
> >conventional genetics contribute to the process of biological
> >evolution by ensuring diversity, etc.
I think we agree here. I suspect we aren't on the same page with our nomenclature. Let me put it another way: somewhere in the arena of complexity is a realm of negative entropy, the conditions and placement of which is always changing as the forces of order and chaos mandate. Life struggles to stay within that realm. Absolute indeterminacy is chaos and absolute opacity is order: both are default states and are fatal. Cohesiveness is the quality of temporal and spacial boundedness, which confers identity and continuity. Clarity is the quality that makes possible evolution and change without unacceptable lossiness.
And I'm quite willing to stipulate that all of the above may be unacceptably idiosyncratic....
> >>As above so below does not mean that there are things above that mankind was
> >>never meant to know.
> >It's not a question of whether or not we are *meant* to know things.
> >The issue is whether or not there are limits to what we can know. As
> >J.B.S.Haldane said (I think it was him) "Life is not only stranger
> >than we know; it is also stranger than we can know".
I think I always thought it was Haldane and then ran across the attribution to T.H. Huxley, and was going to check it out and never did. So I'm confused too... < grin > Yes, I understand the allusion, but there is also the religious constriction that too much knowledge makes for an ungovernable parish/congregation....populace? All or none of the above?
This follows along with the dicta that all good little boys and girls should learn what the teachers want them to know and then skip off into life with all opinions learnt by rote, in an attempt to guarantee against the inconvenience of having to *think* about something!!! Actually, it's having to suffer the perception on the part of others that one has not already thought about the subject at hand and therefore has no ready opinion that is so onerous. The usual practice is to keep one's opinions carefully wrapped against corruption, yet handy and practiced enough to be useful in a moments notice.
And none of those opinions question any of the matters that lie beyond those things that mankind was meant to know, handily enough....
> >>We *can* understand (eventually) the entire functional
> >>complexity of the brain and how it is the manifestation of (itself
> >>manifests?) the mind, ..... snip
> >This of course is a subject of intense debate among cognitive
Oh, I can imagine!!!! I think they fear unnecessarily that their ox is subject to being gored. It has turned out, so I'm given to understand, that the findings of clinical psychology have been largely verified by neuroscience, so I would suggest they have less to fear than they might think.
> >>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 <
> >An issue here is whether or not one can fully separate the physical
> >from the non-physical. Some (both physicists and metaphysicists) would
> >argue that the physical emanates from the non-physical. *If* the
> >physical is a secondary state of the non-physical, it would suggest
> >that a full understanding of physics and astrology necessitates
> >engaging with the non-physical. This doesn't mean we all have to
> >become mystics, but it does raise the question of the significance of
> >human consciousness (i.e. the astrologer) in what we call astrology.
Oh dear... well, this *is* the core issue, isn't it. My statement assumes that today's magic is tomorrow's science. What is now called physics deals with what last century would certainly have been termed the realm of the spirit, I think. So I'm somewhat loath to make those kinds of distinctions without careful qualification. This subject alone would constitute not only an entire thread, but it's own list as well, if we were not careful, I think. But, you are right in raising this issue, because it lies at the center of the Matter of Astrology. Does it belong to the realm of the spirit and therefore within the purview of religion? Or not?
> >>Philosophy will guide, but science will demonstrate, the reality of
> >>astrology, regardless of the opinions or whims of any one of us.
> >And astrology will eventually expand the horizons of science, although
> >as that process unfolds, the subject will be hijacked and assimilated
> >under an assumed name.
An argument I have made passionately time and time again. If astrologer's snooze, they will looze!!! Yet I distinctly hear a continuous drone of snoring.....
A delightful exchange, sir!!!
> >Which is it: under certain conditions, or always?
> >Is this a case of an expansive assumption?
> >I seem to recall spotting this discrepancy when I read the book, Bill. I
> >suspect we can only guess at the answer to your first question. However it
> >is worth noting that in the first quote Seymour is referring to a
> >mathematical `proof' apparently produced by Bell, so the finding here is
> >theoretical. In the second quote Seymour refers (perhaps) to conclusions
> >drawn from experimentation to test the theory, so his finding here is
> >interpretive. Perhaps, therefore, the dichotomy reflects two somewhat
> >different periods of history of physics. Perhaps the former is an earlier,
> >cautious, formulation. Most authoritative commentators that I have read
> >support the latter, universal, case.
Well, Bell's Theorem is surprisingly accessable, and shows that the odds for symmetry remain 5 to 4, as I recall, regardless of any manipulation. That this was confirmed experimentally probably doesn't change the significance of the whole business. The theory itself seems unassailable, but the significance of it is still unclear. It certainly seems to put certain basic assumptions into question, but not necessarily, I think.
This is why I look somewhat askance at this sort of assumptive interpretation activity. It presumes a knowledge of the mechanisms involved, and that has turned around and bitten the presumer more times than those people are comfortable recalling, yet they have to say something, I suppose.
There are several decent web sites that are dedicated to Bell's Theorem, as I recall. Don't have any URLs, but a search engine should provide them.
> >As regards your second question, the answer seems to be yes. Presuming you
> >mean logic extrapolated while assuming such extrapolation is valid. The
> >grounds that warrant this assumption have never been clear to me.
I hope you guys continue your exchanges. I enjoy them and hope that the silent gallery of lurkers out there do as well.
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 09:09:05 GMT
From: Bill Sheeran
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #72
> >Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 13:24:11 +1200
> >From: Janice & Dennis
> >To: Exegesis
> >Subject: solar system chaos
> >Message-ID: Hi Dennis and all ye who lurk, Some comments on your recent posts, Dennis.
> >Although the system is one which can be described as
> >deterministic, in that we know the equations that describe its motion,
> >nevertheless there are limits to the length of time in which we can, with
> >certainty, predict what it will do. This limit has been called the
> >predictability horizon. Is there a predictability horizon that is relevant
> >to astrology?" (p104-109)
> >This final question looks like a red herring. There may well be such a
> >thing in principle but it is not ascertainable in practice. However chaos
> >does seem to be the appropriate gremlin to blame for prediction failure, due
> >to the complexity of human culture, not to mention the complexity of the
> >human psyche, despite the apparently tiny amount of chaos evident in the
> >cycles of the solar system. Although I take the point that a "predictability horizon" maybe impossible to ascertain with any degree of spcificity, I find it a useful concept, if only to emphasise how the notion of predictability needs to be qualified. For example, the relationship between predictability statements and knowledge of contextual factors, or the "scale dependent" aspect of prediction. This latter concerns the question of where one draws the line (horizon) in predictive work. As a simplistic example, while one might possibly be able to predict the likelihood of a car crash based on an assessment of planetary aspects and some contextual understanding, one will not be able to predict whether a seat belt was being worn, what colour trousers the driver was wearing, etc. In other words, there is a reductio ad absurdum issue which needs to be addressed when considering astrology's predictive power. To my mind, this is a question of scale.
The solar system is to all intents and purposes as orderly a system as
one can get. It does exhibit chaotic behaviour. This maybe over a very
long time frame (as is the case for Pluto), or evident in the chaotic
tumbling of asteroids as they move around their orbits. And maybe it
is even relevant for asteroids, comets, and debris from space
missions, etc. However, I do find it striking that astrology still
seems attached to the mantra of as above, so below. It is ironic that
we try to map order onto the chaotic world of change by reference to
one of the most orderly aspects of our experience. As below so above
would seem to be more appropriate.
> >Above, the logic provided by Lighthill and Seymour give us good reason to
> >conclude that expectations of correct astrological or any other type of
> >prediction of human affairs are unrealistic enough to be best seen as faith. Which suggests that we need to reformulate what we mean by prediction. For example, shifting from an emphasis on identifying end state events towards extrapolations of system behaviour based on an understanding of system dynamics, coupled with the astrological "dimension". The function of chaos theory is to facilitate prediction of non-linear systemic behaviour.
The use of non-linear theory in elaborating the complex ordering
processes at work in traffic flows, flu epidemics, and so on would not
be occupying the minds of mathematicians and scientists if it was of
no value in helping them pursue order. One of the more interesting
developments in the field has been the recognition that it is possible
to exploit the understanding of non-linear dynamics to "control"
chaotic behaviour. My feeling is that this might throw up some
valuable insights in relation to making choices when the astrological
pressure gets a bit challenging in coincidence with contexts which are
already "far from equilibrium". Stabilisation as opposed to
bifurcation (this latter not necessarily being a "bad thing").
> >As to the earlier section of Seymour's theory, above, it seems to go
> >substantially further than any other thus far in outlining causal links
> >between planets and people in scientific terms. Resonance between the
> >bodies of the solar system produces harmonic geomagnetic effects,
> >establishing a mechanistic channel for the action of the number archetypes.
> >Cosmos-generated harmonic resonance in biological systems has been
> >documented in various species, but not enough to constitute compelling
> >evidence of any deterministic link other than to Sun, Moon & Earth.
> >Modulation by other planets remains sufficiently subtle an apparent
> >influence as to not yet provide substantial support to astrologers. I'm not a great fan of the mechanical modelling of astrology, even though I accept that it is not effort wasted exploring that aspect, and it has its place in the overall scheme. In other words I don't see it as having an all encompassing explanatory power. However, if there are non-linear considerations involved in that model, then theoretically there is room for small causes (i.e. planetary gravitational effects) having disproportionately large effects. A sensitive dependence on initial conditions when the system is far enough from equilibrium.
On to the next message........................
> >Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 09:18:15 +1200
> >From: Janice & Dennis
> >To: Exegesis
> >Subject: feedback on Ex4/68
> > Dennis wrote, in response to my ruminations on astrology as having a divinatory aspect
> >To some extent we divine cosmic trends when we interpret a horoscope, I
> >agree, but seems to me there are archetypal features of an event that can be
> >analysed as latent potential (as Rudhyar kept emphasising). Mere divination
> >also fails to include context and other elements of the general scheme, the
> >philosophic structure of the horoscope as microcosm, the use as model of the
> >psyche, so I feel it is too reductionist to be suitable as a label for
> >astrology. Yes, I agree with this, and don't mean to suggest that astrology is only divination. On the other hand, it does still carry connotations which reflect the human need for "authorisation" - is this a good time to do such and such? Am I aligned appropriately with the quality of time? Do the planetary patterns *augur* well, etc. Augury is not so much to do with finding out what is going to happen next, but is rather designed to ask questions about the appropriateness of proposed actions, or to ascertain (if one is wise) what the options are in a given situation. This is most obvious with regard to the I Ching, where the answers of the oracle are not along the lines of "you will have a car crash". Instead, the oracle responds that "it favours the wise man to cross the water", or whatever. Again, there is an large element of subjective interpretation involved.
> >Bill then refers "to the point Geoffrey Cornelius keeps making about the
> >primary schism in astrology - that between the astrology of signs
> >(divination) and the astrology of causes (Aristotle/Ptolemy)." Well, much
> >ado about nothing? So what if some see the planets as signs and some see
> >them as causes? All we need do is explain that the planetary archetypes
> >seem to be activated by the planetary cycles synchronously as they seem to
> >cause effects in life on Earth. The perception of the planets as signs of
> >the archetypes seems reasonable, as does the apparently causative influence
> >dramatised by synchronicity. Rather than adopt the traditional (primitive)
> >attitude that a polarity must force an either/or choice upon people, why
> >don't astrologers copy physicists and adopt the complementary (both/and)
> >approach? I couldn't agree more with this last sentence. The reason why I mention this complementary polarity is because I'm interested in astrological theory, and feel that efforts to model astrology will have to be able to encompass all its facets. I do feel that there are aspects of astrology which are plain weird. Like watching transits to the charts of dead people coincide with their re-emergence into the public domain, the temporal dissociation between chart and the impinging of a problem in the mind of someone who subsequently seeks the service of an horary astrologer. It is the astrologer who decides the time of the chart (when they choose to take the question as a horary). And then there is the area of non-horoscopic astrology (planetary cycles, great conjunctions, astro-meteorology, and so on) - astrology as a continuous process as opposed to astrology being associated with a fixed instant in time.
I reckon that astrologers interested in conceptual modelling will have to expand their imagination a bit, and break free from an strict adherence to mechanistic thinking or Jungian models. I'm just as interested in looking at the divinatory aspect of science as I am of astrology. If the birth chart acts as a focusing device for astrological divination, what does the rapt contemplation of a blackboard covered in mathematical formula induce in the perceiver?
For me, what is called divination is an aspect of human psychic potential, and is highly non-rational. It fascinates me that scientific breakthroughs usually have less to do with reason or experiment, and more to do with imaginal or non-rational flashes of insight. These are often triggered by trivial external events when the researcher is not actually thinking at all about their problem. I know this isn't divination, but it's coming from the same part of the field. I read a quote recently (unfortunately somewhere in cyberspace) where a scientist from the 1950s said that the key to British scientific success was the 3 Bs - bath, bed and buses. Archimedes would have related to that, not to mention the guy on the Clapham omnibus (who was that?).
> >Bill later moved into an interesting new territory:
> >"What is very interesting in this regard is that another bifurcation
> >(in mathematics) happened in 1892 with the publication of Henri
> >Poincare's Celestial Mechanics. This was the first text to mention
> >what has now become the mathematics of chaos. So once again, a crucial
> >development in mathematics (just as with Newton) is linked to the
> >contemplation of celestial motions. Astute astrologers will recognise
> >1892 as the year of the first Pluto/Neptune conjunction since 1398 (or
> >around then). The rebirth of chaos."
> >Dale Huckeby has been working along a similar line of enquiry, so I was
> >hoping he would disengage lurk mode and comment on this. The 1892
> >correlation seems impressive, but the lack of one for 1398 rather spoils the
> >effect, as no doubt you are aware. Wasn't the Renaissance beginning then? I haven't as yet been able to find striking correlations for 1398-99, but I don't think one has to be too exact about such things. After all, Poincare's work was carried out during the years prior to the publication of his three volumes on celestial mechanics. And yes, the Renaissance really gathered momentum in the 15th century, in the same way that the post Pluto/Neptune conjuncton progress of the 20th century gathered speed in it's wake. Previous PL/NE conjunctions are intriguing - 905 Arabic flowering?, 410 sack of Rome, 82 BCE ?, 575BCE, beginning of philosophy and speculations about the nature of the cosmos (Thales).
It's interesting that Newton was born with a PL/NE opposition, and Kepler with a PL/NE square (Galileo had a sextile).
> >Bill asks: "What form will astrology take in the current era, when
> >culturally there is now an unprecedented openness to ambiguity,
> >unpredictability and the breakdown of the subject-object divide
> >(inter-penetration with context)? The conscious embracing of chaos in a
> >way brings us full circle to the days when chaos was dominant, rather
> >than our understanding of order. It induced fear and was denied or
> >battled against. Today, we don't suffer the same existential
> >anxieties, and we do possess a wealth of knowledge and understanding
> >to shore up the desire for existential security. We feel secure enough
> >to actually look at chaos in the face."
> >As to your initial question here, Bill, it is evident that market forces
> >have provided the answer. The humanistic approach pioneered by Rudhyar has
> >proven too sophisticated for most punters to master, and a postmodern
> >approach in which astrologer and client tell each other stories has
> >prevailed. The intriguing thing is that no embarrassment at their
> >inadequacy is felt by those performing in this manner, indeed the telling of
> >stories is regarded as permissible and normal in most of the helping
> >professions. Freud and Jung provide the perfect excuse. But that's just a Pluto in Leo generational thing, in my opinion (self obsession). Astrology is not solely concerned with individual human affairs. The reason astrology is so flakey is that the air element is out of fashion. The negative face of astrology in the post modern world is that it's lost any sense of its own centre, and is hell bent on charging in all directions. Which is another reason why I'm interested in getting a handle on its divinatory aspect. The gradual exclusion of this facet has been on-going in the west since the Hellenistic Greek period. As far as I am aware, Ptolemy has nothing to say about horary. Most of the major Renaissance critics from within the ranks of astrologers attack this aspect. There's also a strong unconscious mechanistic sub-text to the way astrology is perceived today which reflects 20th century education. In my opinion, it is the divinatory aspect of astrology which will prove to be of most interest to cognitive science in the future. Physical explanations (or rather efforts at them) will be seen in retrospect as quite quaint.
One of the central planks of post modern philosophy is simply the
reinstatement of the subject object interpenetration. I find that
quite hard to argue with. The extrapolation of this evident (to me)
"truth" to an out and out relativism is just another example of
western dualistic thinking, prompted by a fear of lack of clarity.
> >As regards chaos, we all embrace it in reaction to a previously excessive
> >regimented order in society. There is widespread pan-generational tacit
> >agreement that it provides liberation from social constraints and more
> >choices and opportunities to use individual free-will to proceed down new
> >paths. There is still a regimented order in most western societies. The freedom is illusory. Social constraints are just less visible. For example, people are generally oblivious to the power of TV as propaganda medium which is not only the opiate of the people, but also is fantastic at manufacturing consent. Not to mention the wage slavery to which people are also oblivious (30 years hard labour to put a roof over your head). Mother and father both having to work to maintain a family. No one has any time to be a truly independent soul. Bureaucracy is rampant, no one's allowed to act on initiative unless they're prepared to get strangled by red tape. Everyone has to lock their doors and insure themselves against life. Greed, a constraining ball and chain if ever there was one, has been made a cardinal virtue. Non materialistic explorations are for wimps. Yes, there's a lot more choice, and I suppose there are also more opportunities. There's also a lot more confusion, and a sense of direction is both hard to find and easily lost. The extent of choice and opportunity presents a fog.
> >This reduction of repression now normally involves people being more
> >intuitively and instinctively motivated by the astrological archetypes
> >(rather than consciously via learning astrology or using the advice of a
> >competent astrologer). People will only transcend this cosmic-marionette
> >phase if the current free-market social darwinism is replaced by an economic
> >system that gives them time and security enough to allow personal
> >evolutionary development, via learning how to decode their inner selves and
> >gain consequent self-understanding, as Rudhyar envisaged. Exactly. But should that come to pass, it will subvert the power of those who sit in authority (governments, military, etc.). It doesn't do to have too many people capable of thinking, never mind evolved self aware people thinking. I personally see my activities as an astrologer as subtely subversive in that respect. We are ironically fortunate to be living in an era when astrology is ridiculed or vilified for being disempowering (fatalistic), so the fact that it actually empowers others remains an occult aspect of it's public image. This is of course double edged, but there have been times in the past when the position of astrologer was rife with hazards. Unfortunately though, the astrologer's fear of thinking (mirroring the general trend in society) does tend to counteract the likelihood of its eventual reinstatement.
> >Bill concludes.. "This new sense of order in all its complexity, which has
> >been percolating through in many fields of endeavour during the best part of
> >this century, has important implications for astrology in the next century.
> >It's hard work bringing them into focus though!"
> >True, it's not hard to see why most astrologers avoid trying. There are
> >suitable vehicles for such progress however, such as the archetypes of
> >nature, and further documentation of trans-disciplinary commonalities will
> >be fruitful. Yes, this is essential.
> >The focus for any new sense of order, Bill, ought really to be
> >the globalising of culture, most prevalent - dominant now - this past
> >decade. Models of order that have gained consensual adherence in various
> >fields earlier this century will only be relevant to the extent that they
> >manage to re-emerge in this broader context. Which is basically the drift of postmodernism if you pull away the circus which dances through it and look at its skeleton.
All the best,
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 06:35:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: Dale Huckeby
Subject: Neptune/Pluto [V4 #72]
Bill Sheeran wrote:
> >>"What is very interesting in this regard is that another bifurcation
> >>(in mathematics) happened in 1892 with the publication of Henri
> >>Poincare's Celestial Mechanics. This was the first text to mention
> >>what has now become the mathematics of chaos. So once again, a crucial
> >>development in mathematics (just as with Newton) is linked to the
> >>contemplation of celestial motions. Astute astrologers will recognise
> >>1892 as the year of the first Pluto/Neptune conjunction since 1398 (or
> >>around then). The rebirth of chaos."
Dennis Frank responded:
> >Dale Huckeby has been working along a similar line of enquiry, so I was
> >hoping he would disengage lurk mode and comment on this. The 1892
> >correlation seems impressive, but the lack of one for 1398 rather spoils
> >the effect, as no doubt you are aware. Wasn't the Renaissance beginning
> >then? Check out the dates for the first translations of key
> >Arabic/Classical mathematical texts. Didn't Aristotle, previously
> >unknown to Europe, supplant Plato suddenly as a result of this? But if
> >this didn't happen till after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 it will
> >be no help to your theory.
I have a far better sense of Uranus/Neptune than Neptune/Pluto. At the moment I see the latter cycle more clearly in terms of the more or less distinct eras it marks off - early antiquity (c. 576-83 BC), late antiquity (83 BC-411 AD, the dark ages (411-904), and the feudal period (904-1398) - than in terms of the details of the transition periods, which I think are probably thirty to sixty years long. Only the most recent cycle, 1398 to 1892, fails to correspond to a recognized historical period, although it does correspond to our sense that in the twentieth century, more decisively than during the scientific, industrial and demographic revolutions, we've left familar landmarks behind and embarked on alien seas. If a 500 year social cycle did end about a hundred years ago, it makes sense that our accomplishments and complexes during the last 100 years should be so bizarre and unprecedented, as it would be the first part of a new cycle.
Thus, although I suspect Poincare is probably relevant, I don't have a clear sense of _how_. However, one of Thomas Kuhn's historical insights might help. Comparing science and technology he notes, "Historians tend frequently to conflate the two enterprises . . . The methodological innovations of the seventeenth century are thus seen as the source of a useful as well as sound science. Explicitly or implicitly, science is portrayed as having played a steadily increasing socioeconomic role ever since. In fact, however . . . technology flourished without significant substantive input from the sciences until about one hundred years ago. The emergence of science as a prime mover in socioeconomic development was not a gradual but a sudden phenomenon, first significantly foreshadowed in the organic-chemical dye industry of the 1870s, continued in the electric power industry from the 1890s, and rapidly accelerated since the 1920s. To treat these developments as the emergent consequences of the Scientific Revolution is to miss one of the radical historical transformations constitutive of the contemporary scene."
That "radical historical transformation" might well _be_ the N/P transition, or an important part of it. Both it and Poincare's insight need to be understood in terms of deeper underlying social trends or changes, and these developments have to be seen to be similar to those which have occurred during earlier U/N periods, as Dennis points out, before we have anything tangible. Only then would we have a meaningful sense of what a N/P transition is predictably _like_.
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 08:46:57 -0700 (PDT)
From: Dale Huckeby
Subject: Neptune/Pluto [V4 #72]
ps. I forgot to give the citation info this morning on my Kuhn quote. It's from "The Relations between History and the History of Science", which is in a collection of Kuhn's writings titled _The Essential Tension: Selected Writings on Scientific Tradition and Change_ (1977, University of Chicago Press).
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