|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #101
Exegesis Digest Tue, 21 Dec 1999
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 23:12:50 GMT
From: Bill Sheeran
To: exegesis Cc: robt
Subject: digest #97: Prediction is the essence of astrology
Rob Tillett wrote:
> It seems to me that the whole of astrology *is* about prediction,
> whether the prediction of character from the symbolic structures of
> the birth chart, or the outcomes of future progressions and transits,
> or elections, or horary divinations based on the concept that the
> whole of the universe may be found in a grain of sand (or the whole
> of meaning be found in a moment). I agree, Rob, that one can't take prediction out of astrology. The work I do on a client's chart before he or she arrives - in a sense anticipating what type of person is going to walk through the door - is predictive work. As is the interpretation of a child's horoscope. This is before one even starts to think about the dynamic side of astrology.
> As one of the world's busiest working astrologers, I must also say
> that I (and my colleagues) make predictions on a daily basis, most of
> which are spot on, according to our feedback. If some practitioners
> are unable to make accurate predictions using astrology, let them
> look to their own abilities and cease damning the essence of the art. This is where it gets a bit foggy. I could say the same as yourself (though I'm probably not as busy). I get good feedback about circumstances unfolding as discussed in consultations. I also note that in the last 15 years I haven't had any feedback about predictions not working, except that I give to myself, largely in relation to mundane work. This observation prevents me from assuming that the feedback I get represents the full picture, unless one thinks the universe is clockwork, and that the astrologer is a machine.
However, I have no qualms whatsoever about presenting myself as a predictive astrologer. What interests me profoundly is the nature of astrology's predictive power. My own experience tells me that it certainly isn't reliable in terms of specifics. The credibility of astrological prediction depends on how one frames the definition of the phenomenon, which determines what kinds of predictive claims an astrologer will make.
It's on a list like this that such issues can be discussed. I'm particularly interested in exploring the "deep truth" of the unpredictable, which to my mind interpenetrates with the various manifestations of the predictable, from the scientific to the astrological. I don't see how one can become a good predictive astrologer in the absence of any understanding of the dynamics of the unpredictable.
For example, there are at least two dimensions involved (if we ignore the skill and cognition of the astrologer) - the nature of the event, and the timing element. As regards the former, at what point does the predictive power dissolve? OK, you get the car crash event, but did you get the fact that there was a passenger, or that the driver was wearing a red coat, to take the point into the realms of the absurd? In other words, predictive statements can be made within hierarchical field from the generic to the specific to the micro-specific. At some point, one reaches a predictive horizon beyond which 100% guess work sets in. And the same is effectively true for the timing factor. Where, in other words, does one draw the line (or predictability horizon, as I call it)? One can be successful at making a prediction one one level, but fall down on a more specific level.
So there is something to be discussed here, and it does entail
acknowledging unpredictability. In other words, applying the
archetypes or principles of Uranus and Neptune in particular to
astrology itself, rather than just wheeling them out for external use.
> On another point, insofar as astrology needs to justify itself in
> scientific terms, as seems to be the general thrust of many posts,
> can this be really possible, given the incompatibility of an
> atomistic, materialist paradigm of science with the wholistic and
> spiritual paradigm of astrological wisdom? There are deep truths
> which form the base of our astrological structure which are quite
> unable to be articulated in the skeptical, po-faced language of the
> alienated twentieth century intellectual. It isn't a question of justifying astrology in scientific terms. It's about developing the art of astrology by acknowledging that whatever cosmic principles astrology is revealing, they emerge through and within a worldly context. Above is not separate from below, so lets look at below too. In order to understand astrological phenomena (including prediction), one has to take a good look at the worldly context which modulates its expression. And science is the primary form in our culture which attempts to understand and model that context. A financial astrologer has to understand the contextual dynamics of the world of finance. Astrology does not cause fluctuations in the stockmarket. It is a variable in the overall process.
Contrary to traditional scientific perspectives, the subject is not separate from the object, and astrology is not separate from the astrologer or the context onto which astrology is being mapped. So again, it makes sense to at least take a look at cutting edge developments in the study of cognition and consciousness (regarding, for example, the perception of qualitative time), and concepts from science and mathematics which reveal current ideas about predictability in complex systems, such as those onto which astrology is mapped.
Apart from the fact that this would lead to a greater success rate for astrological prediction, it would also help to develop a philosophical sensibility among astrologers, and probably contribute useful insights for the modelling of astrological theory.
The objectivist materialistic reductionist paradigm of science is fading as part of the general drift of postmodern thinking, and is being supplanted with an holistic paradigm which acknowledges subjectivity, and the need to include a qualitative perspective to counterbalance the quantitative. Astrology, on the other hand, has hardly made it out of the pre-modern era, and it shows. It is certainly time for some re-imagining of the old astrological paradigm. In the current era, astrology is bringing up the rear when it comes to self re-appraisal. The deconstruction and reconstruction of art, music, literature, architecture, science and so on has been underway for most of this century.
In most cases, what is being recognised is the restricting impact of a dogma of stability or order which has its roots in the first patriachal stirrings in Mesopotamia. It was the consistent refining of this dogma through the use of reason, and in the 17th century onwards experimentation, which eventually excluded one of the founder members of the club - astrology. The pursuit of order is the pursuit of predictability.
The course taken was to exclude (or at least mistrust) the unpredictable, the unknowable, the natural, the dark (occult), the left, the feminine, the qualitative, and so on. Astrologers repugnance at the word "unpredictable" is merely reflecting a cultural bias which is shared with traditional science. However, it is plain and evident that life can be very unpredictable. Why do astrologers ignore that truth? I have yet to see a book on unpredictability for astrologers (though I am trying to write one). The irony is that such a book would make a huge difference to understanding the nature of astrology's predictive power.
Astrology, mathematics and science share the same roots in our cultural cognitive landscape. They are all concerned with mapping order in time and space, whether of a quantitative or qualitative nature. In my opinion, it is an error to fall into the objectivist, materialistic, reductionist trap of maintaining an artificial divide between these three disciplines. This merely indulges a cultural fetish for specialisation, or blandly succumbs to the Cartesian fallacy about the separation of psyche from matter, or subject from object.
Contemporary mathematics in particular is at the forefront of revisioning our perception of order in reality, and is doing so in a way that embraces the inevitability of the unpredictable. It makes sense to me to look at what our estranged cousins are coming up with, as in the long run, we're all at the same game.
All the best,
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1999 01:09:09 -0800
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #98
Mark Shulgasser said:
> In response to those on this list who have recently dismissed the
> idea of prediction as somehow irrelevant or even impossible:
> The history and literature of oracles (and the two cannot be separated)
> almost entirely to teach the foolishness of believing in prediction. [snip]
> I'm responsible for that quote, but my purpose was not to reject
> all of prediction, or prediction with a certain attitude --
> my point was that there is no clear distinction between the two
> poles of "prediction" and "understanding". The poles that astrology,
> and even science, hover between. And yet, "understanding" brings
> greater freedom, thus freeing the subject from the predicted,
> conceived of as an inevitability.
If I understand your point, you are suggesting that science's reason for engaging in prediction is to increase understanding. This is correct: if you can predict the behavior of the object of interest, you possess some understanding thereof. In the larger sense, this is probably a philosophical truth of some sort, and I support it, whatever the case.
But there is another linkage in which these are reversed, and I suggest that it is demonstrably the more important of the two: we seek to understand so that we *can* predict the behavior of (the object of interest). The ability to predict that which lies in the potential future is probably the fundamental aim of intelligence, for that ability is h. sap's primary survival ability/tool.
The idea that we wish to free the prediction from inevitability is not at all obvious to me, and I would submit that this is exactly what we do not want to happen. We *want* our predictions to hold that sort of force, so that we can depend upon them. The point is that we can figure a way to modify the cause in order to change the consequences, and we can do so most dependably when our predictions have the force of inevitability.
I do, however, (I think...) understand that your statement reaches for much the same sort of point: what we understand, we can manipulate, or so we would hope. My contention here is that we need to be very clear about what we are saying, because this subject can so easily be made virtually intractable by accidental obfuscation resulting from a lack of rigor in thought, etc.
I would, however, observe that your original statement was far more unequivocal: you said that it was foolish to believe in prediction. Period.
> There is "prediction" provided (and sought for) without the
> component of "understanding" which partakes of superstition,
> and has always been condemned by the Spiritualists who insist that
> astrology must partake of spiritual as well as scientifically objective
> values. It is basically (or partially) on that ethical component that
> astrology is forced out of science. No?
Superstition is the bugaboo that academia, and hard science in particular, likes to wield much as the dragon is used in the Chinese New Year's parade: it is intended to ward off "evil (read: not scientifically understood and therefore irrelevant) ideas". It is the bludgeon that "book" scientists use to denigrate and (hopefully) destroy any sort of view that does not recognize the supremacy of science... well, actually does not recognize the supremacy of the scientist as the (only) font of all knowledge and wisdom. The proper attitude of science and scientists with regard any and all of these subjects is that, at the moment, science stands mute. But that doesn't play well in the Temples of Scientism.... < grin >
Now, having said that, perhaps I can suggest that we can lay that aside, and if we can do that, perhaps we can do the same for the Spiritualists as well.
> I hate putting on the old turban, or ticking off successful predictions
> like a scientist proving his hypothesis.
> Predictions fall off a reading like chips off a sculpture in progress.
> Having all my planets on the west I tend to see things this way. Like
> a prediction is an intervention I'd rather not make.
Hmmm... well, the latest in "reading" technology usually recommends that a large vacuum system be connected and wired to automatically turn on when the reading begins. This alleviates the effluvia of unintentional predictions and serves to whisk them all away, leaving the scene of the session nice and sanitary. It is also recommended that the client be supplied with a prophilatic devise (an ear mask?) to suppliment the vacuum system in this particular matter. (For those who understand such things: "Powermatic" rules!!!)
Prediction is not something that should ever be done lightly, I think. Off-hand comments about the likelihood of this or that coming to pass in some manner is a practice that very many astrologers take up, including (in my earliest days) myself, of course. I was fortunate enough to have occasion to learn better without having a client bear the cost of my having done so, but others have not been so fortunate; horror stories about clients committing suicide because of some off the cuff prediction continue to circulate, and I suspect they do so because they are based on (a) documented case(s).
With that caveat in mind, we are, I think, forced to admit that our practice is (to put it succinctly) not at all understood, either by ourselves or anyone else. We predict because a) we find that we can, and b) we decide that we can be of benefit to the client by doing so. There are a lot of practitioners that simply do so because they can, having had some of their work validated (presumably), but with no thought for the welfare of the client. The attitude that it's the client's responsibility to know what and what not to ask about, is very unprofessional: astrology does not tender a product that is universally understood, such that any client can be expected to be able to assume the status of informed buyer. It is this attitude, I suggest, which continues to undermine any potential respectability that astrology might acquire. So let's not do this sort of thing, I suggest.
Nevertheless, appropriate prediction is now and has always been the primary purpose of astrology. In this regard, any statements about the nature of the client that may be construed to inform or influence future behavior is probably the most common form of prediction, I submit, and perhaps these are the kind that should be most closely watched.
On a general note, does anyone have anything to offer concerning predictions that do not specifically apply to a (living) client, such as might be proffered regarding a corporation, or a specific process not directly under human control, etc.? That would really be interesting.
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1999 14:16:00 +1300
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: Exegesis 4/94,95,96,97,98,99
In 4/94 Patrice wrote "Dennis, do you really know Babylonian or Assyrian horoscopes for a country ? Apart of this, a collective "impress" is so, because it is first a simultaneous individual "impress" on all."
No, not for a country. Foundation horoscopes for various cities have survived, and coronations. They seem more visually symbolic than mathematical (I've only seen 2 or 3 reproductions).
Patrice here asserts a collective "impress" (in a moment, presumably), in response to my critique of his technical term "psychic-astral", which seemed to me to link heavenly configurations with the individual psyche, thus excluding society by implication. This advocacy of a collective correlation effect is therefore interesting, and removes my objection. The obvious explanation is that it would occur via the collective unconscious (and this is consistent with Jung's, Rudhyar's, and my own model).
"the purpose of astrology is the "impressionals" inside of us. (Not "as above, as below", but AS INSIDE, AS OUTSIDE, and even AS INSIDE, AS INSIDE, to feel like Paracelsus). Because astrological Understanding is definitely other thing than cultural sciences' INTERPRETATION. < snip > To return to impressionals, I have still 50 pages on them and on this prodigious philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (May I recommend also a book here : the "Collected papers", the main philosophical "book", never written in American philosophy - my "opinion"). So, Dennis, be patient. The Jungian concepts are for astrology of none utility : for my "impressionals", see rather the "small perceptions" of Leibniz."
Ok, I will be patient and hope for Patrice to explain this some more. Sorry I am ignorant of Leibnitz's concept, and am only familiar with Peirce via a recent tentative foray into semiotics. As I have said already, I see no essential difference between above/below and without/within.
"Saying that the "astral has no influence on the physical" seems either a blunder or an explicit signal from Patrice that he does not recognise that archetypal qualities of time emerge in nature." [me] ... "The "astral influences" on the physical nature (tides and all you want) are not astrology : BUT PHYSICS !" [Patrice]
Perhaps Patrice misunderstood me, or else we disagree on this fundamental point. If you don't recognise that the astral influence affects physical systems in nature, you cannot theorise that the astrological archetypes emerge in the moment, regardless who or what happens to be there. Your last sentence above makes no literal sense, Patrice, because physics is merely the conventional discipline used for studying the physical universe. I'm studying time, and I can do that both in physics and (better) in astrology.
In 4/95 Bill Tallman responded to Bill Sheeran ... "I suspect that there is more to astrology than the dimension of time. < snip > It is interesting to note that Rudhyar, who was a strong proponent of the notion of cycles as being fundamental (hence, time as the primary property), also championed Marc Jones work on the Zodiac degrees. Rudhyar was unable to provide a useful rationale for this apparent dichotomy, electing instead to label it a matter of spiritual and allegorical significance. The degree as a representative of the ratio of revolution to rotation sounds reasonable, but does not put forth any hint of an explanation for the significance of certain degrees themselves. < snip > Clearly, the rationale leaves gaping holes such that it falls apart at a touch: it leaves us to believe that some indeterminate source provides the archetypes assigned to each degree. Furthermore, the visions of Elsie Wheeler (the source of the Sabian Symbols) do not correspond to the older assignments. Finally, any rationale devised to support the degree symbols do not address the fixed stars."
Indeed "some indeterminate source" is pretty much how I figured it. But is it so much of a problem? I later found the concept of the holomovement sufficed. All one needs to do is theorise that the archetypes emerge in the process of manifestation of natural forms. Apart from that I agree with Bill, and was disgusted when I found all those who provided degree meanings disagreed with each other (with the partial exception of Jones & Rudhyar). An Australian woman is the latest. Don't know about efforts prior to Jones. Do you have any details on such, Bill?
The weakness of my rationale lies in the extent to which the existence of such archetypes remains theoretical. One might have expected, if the theory was valid, that different interpreters of the degree meanings would at least have a discernible similarity in the meaning they ascribe to each degree. No such underlying evidence of an archetype has been apparent to me whenever I have gone looking for it. Bill quite rightly notes that the supposed fixed star meanings remain an apparently separate interpretive framework for particular degrees.
The earlier point, that there is more to astrology than the dimension of time, seems reasonable. Patrice, like Rudhyar, seems to recognise a qualitative dimension to local space. I suppose I agree, but regard it as secondary, or derivative from time. Apart from that there is the realm of potential, beyond time.
I commented on Andre's reference to the northern seasonal tradition for interpreting the zodiac: "Ptolemy used that logic and Rudhyar, in "The Pulse of Life", produced quite a persuasive elaboration of it half a century back." Bill Tallman obliging provided the relevant quote from "Rudhyar: "The Pulse of Life", Shambala Publications, Inc., Berkeley, CA, 1970, p21." Yes, I have that edition also. But did you know the first edition appeared in 1942? So, by half a century, I really meant 57 years. [Sorry; give someone a few planets in Virgo and they get to be a congenital nitpicker doncha know! :)] Anyway, true, the caveat was there in the quote, and perhaps the inertia of residual northern programming operates, as I think Andre also said. But the metaphysical logic in the zodiacal archetype is so strong a rationale that you don't need any seasonal correlations anyway. When the Sun, Moon & planets enter Aries fresh energy becomes evident and fresh starts tend to be precipitated regardless of what hemisphere you're in, because the cardinal fire archetype re-emerges.
"Well, phase-locking presumes a common reference point, as far as I understand the idea. What happens when the common reference point is lost (is not able to provide the reference for whatever reason)? I would expect that this would necessitate a reset, as it does in other examples of phase-lock phenomena."
Ok, point taken. I guess I had assumed this could not happen - that it gets embedded somehow.
"On another subject of discussion with Dennis: synchronicity ... He suggests I require a physical grounding for useful explanations, and it's true that I do. The reason I do is because, as near as I can tell, the only place that issues can be nailed down firmly enough to build upon is when they can be identified objectively such that there is sufficient reason for a general acceptance thereof. This is part of the unstated assumption of science, I suggest, and probably the reason why (especially physicists) say that if it doesn't exist physically it simply doesn't exist."
Ok, but I sense we are in the process of transcending physics. This refers to the paradigm shift, in which I locate myself within an emerging multi-disciplinary consensus, albeit `only' metaphysical. The need for grounding remains, but one must keep one's own personal bias in perspective, when relating to the group mind. This requires self-discipline for all of us, of course. Paradigmatic considerations need not be essentially earthy. Aquarius, fixed-air, is more to the point. Beware tacit assumptions that may not be valid: knowledge that can be "identified objectively"? How is this process performed? I thought physicists had proven it is impossible.
"But the principal has its virtues, I think. We exist and have an effect on the physical level and that, in general, is where we experience and do our growth. Anything that can be imagined is ours to explore, but a measure of usefulness in any regard is how it affects our lives, individually and collectively. We do not, in spite of any and all contentions to the contrary, live entirely in our heads. There is excellent reason to suggest that the interior reality produced by the brain is and has always been intended to reflect the external reality within which we live, and the primary purpose of the ability is to address the temporal dimension of the future: for what should we prepare in order to maximize our chances of survival?"
Indeed, quite so, and this is all profound.
"We would like to think that we are far enough away from that level of concern that we can declare ourselves free therefrom, but the lessons of life continue to demonstrate just how close we are to the jungle and the forces of nature which put the focus right back on animal survival. We are, in fact, physical animals, however else we might define ourselves and we are not well advised to lose sight of this fact. What understanding we might gain is ultimately most relevant there, I think."
I fully support this cautionary perspective. Body/mind interface issues are the cutting edge of the advance of science. Grounding knowledge in the physical is essential in respect of our bodies mediating our interaction with our surroundings, and hence our understanding of environment and cosmic context.
"I responded with hyperbole to Dennis' acknowledgment that astrology isn't just about people, and I did so to make a point. The dominion of psychological astrology is so complete that we are as yet unable to free ourselves from the assumptions thereof, and until we do, we are not likely to get a real handle on the essence of astrology itself. But I've said this until I've difficulty seeing how to refrain from being repetitive. I suppose I'm suggesting that we start thinking of astrology as application independent in our discussions, so that we are forced to rid ourselves of the tacit assumptions of psychological astrology."
Well I started in 1984, and produced my first theoretical articles along this line the following year. Those of us who routinely examine event charts have always been constrained to transcend the perspective of astropsychology. The need for a theoretical framework that integrated mundane and natal in a broader scheme was evident to me when I was learning astrology. Tacit recognition by astrologers that the planets were interpreted as archetypes seemed the fruitful basis upon which to proceed, provided one dissented from the position adopted by the Jungian astrologers and deemed the archetypes to emerge in nature, not merely in the collective unconscious. Fortuitously, I later discovered that Jung was not a Jungian. [Shades of the letter from Karl Marx, preserved for posterity, in which he states "I am not a Marxist."!] I have already provided the quotes in which Jung located the number archetypes in nature.
In 4/96 Andre quoted an interesting paper: "Chaos and its concepts are beginning to be applied to psychology by researchers from cognitive, developmental and clinical psychology. This paper seeks to provide an overview of this work and evaluate the application of chaos to psychology. < snip > existing applications of chaos in psychology and possible implications are examined. Finally, problems of applying chaos are evaluated and conclusions drawn regarding the usefulness of chaos in psychology". Then he comments.. "Although it might seem to some that the 'application to psychology' has little relevance here, Susan Ayers' treatment embraces freewill vs determinism, the mind-body problem, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology to name just a few topics mentioned in this forum. The generality of chaos beyond just the 'natural sciences' is discussed, including the problems of applying it to human behaviour. This discussion is rather pertinent to a small number of contributions made earlier this year by Dennis, Bill Sheeran, and myself."
It does indeed sound most relevant, and I hope I can access it in the local ivory tower. The most obvious potential utility of complexity theory is as metaphor, I guess, suggesting how order is wedded to chaos in nature. Patterns emerging in the holomovement may combine regions of simplicity (apparent order) with regions of complexity (apparent chaos). So the resonant ordered solar system (macrocosm) conceals its chaotic component, but us (microcosm) good little boys & girls do as we are told, perform our required social function in the consumption of nature as dictated by market forces, yet, exercising our degrees of freedom, we sometimes choose to deviate, or even flip out at random.
Andre writes "I have often pondered the relationship between experimental outcomes and the time they are done". When I was doing experiments in general science at school, I was sometimes puzzled that they did not go according to plan. Of course, complaining to the teacher just got me told that I had to do it properly. Since I had, I was reduced to ineffectual protest. It left me with an irritated sense of something funny going on. Fortunately, I was top of the top class in most subjects including science, so the anomalies were no real impediment. But you can imagine how relieved I felt later, when reading "Supernature", to find that scientific experiments had actually verified that water has different chemical properties depending on time of day, month, etc.
Since everyone has been taught that no such thing happens, collusion in ignoring these findings has proved nigh on universal.
Paradigms require people to reject reality in the case of any disconformity. Adhesion to the operating program is all.
"In effect, our perception and hence our 'reality' - including our perception of time, and our memory, or present, remembered and future events - is structured by the time-cycles of the planets." So it would seem. What I have been suggesting is that the solar system, viewed as a many-handed clock, drives us in our development much as it drives the planets round their orbits. It coordinates all of its parts in unison, wheels within wheels, different cogs changing gear ratios between sub-systems and producing different local cycles and processes in different levels of the holarchy. Just another metaphor.
Then Mark Shulgasser wrote: "Surely any clearcut distinction between "prediction" and (if you must) "nebulous psycho-spiritual aphoristic advice or arcane truths" crumbles beneath the principle of "character is destiny" and its implications. At best the two (knowledge of specific outcomes or knowledge of causal factors) are opposite poles of the unified phenomenon that is astrological, or for that matter scientific, or any kind of explanation. The idea that there is a component of astrology (including horary, and even tarot, I Ching, etc) that is purely predictive, is simply superstitional, and pertains to outcomes which are remarkable precisely because of their rarity. The history and literature of oracles (and the two cannot be separated) exists almost entirely to teach the foolishness of believing in prediction."
To which Rob Tillett responded thus... "The principal reason for the growth and development of astrology (and indeed any science) arises in an effort to make the world more meaningful and enable some useful planning through an understanding of the present (and the past) and the forecasting of likely trends for the future. It seems to me that the whole of astrology *is* about prediction, whether the prediction of character from the symbolic structures of the birth chart, or the outcomes of future progressions and transits, or elections, or horary divinations based on the concept that the whole of the universe may be found in a grain of sand (or the whole of meaning be found in a moment). As one of the world's busiest working astrologers, I must also say that I (and my colleagues) make predictions on a daily basis, most of which are spot on, according to our feedback. If some practitioners are unable to make accurate predictions using astrology, let them look to their own abilities and cease damning the essence of the art. On another point, insofar as astrology needs to justify itself in scientific terms, as seems to be the general thrust of many posts, can this be really possible, given the incompatibility of an atomistic, materialist paradigm of science with the wholistic and spiritual paradigm of astrological wisdom? There are deep truths which form the base of our astrological structure which are quite unable to be articulated in the skeptical, po-faced language of the alienated twentieth century intellectual."
Mark responded "my purpose was not to reject all of prediction, or prediction with a certain attitude -- my point was that there is no clear distinction between the two poles of "prediction" and "understanding". The poles that astrology, and even science, hover between. And yet, "understanding" brings greater freedom, thus freeing the subject from the predicted, conceived of as an inevitability. There is "prediction" provided (and sought for) without the component of "understanding" which partakes of superstition, and has always been condemned by the Spiritualists who insist that astrology must partake of spiritual as well as scientifically objective values. It is basically (or partially) on that ethical component that astrology is forced out of science. No? I hate putting on the old turban, or ticking off successful predictions like a scientist proving his hypothesis. Predictions fall off a reading like chips off a sculpture in progress."
Before commenting I will add, to the expanding context, Bill Tallman: "Mr. Tillet has put himself on the line here, having made a very specific statement of presumed fact. Having done so, perhaps it is appropriate to inquire whether he has clinical data to support his assertions. I would suggest that such data is potentially the most valuable artifact that (the practice of) astrology could possess. It is part of the tradition of well regarded disciplines of practice that clinical data is accrued as a matter of course. Records of professional activity are the professional's most valuable asset, and this is nowhere as critical as in the case of astrology. Perhaps Mr. Tillet would make his data available to astrological research?"
And this just arrived from Andre Donnell... "I think there may be some misunderstanding. As I understand it, those contributors to this list who have commented on prediction, have not so much wished to deny it, as to debate the issues concerning it. These include its ethics, its nature, and its limitations. < snip > I am not aware of any recent posts, let alone "many" of them, that propose that "astrology needs to justify itself in scientific terms". Quite the contrary."
The confusion has arisen due to apparently different understandings of what is meant by the term `prediction'. I have reproduced the entire context above to facilitate analysis. Mark suggested any clearcut separation between hard and soft prediction is more apparent than real, and his reference to the old Alan Leo aphorism "character is destiny" seems quite appropriate. Mark went on to correctly note that specific ("pure") prediction produced superstition, a rarity of correct outcomes, and history testifying to the foolishness of belief in prediction. Reality has always proved most predictions wrong most of the time, which is why astrology remains socially marginalised.
Rob then correctly notes the social context that provides a normal need for
planning and "forecasting of likely trends" (soft prediction). He then
relates his personal experience of making frequent correct predictions,
noting the reality check of feedback that seems to provide objective
validation. However he does not specify whether these are merely soft
predictions, or perhaps include a few hard ones as well, from time to time.
> From my own experience, I find it easy to sympathise with his consequent attitude to astrologers who lack any predictive expertise, whilst being unable to share the gung-ho attitude. The problem here lies in the interface between personal and collective reality, the subjective/objective divide. Any prediction I believe I got right will seem a suspect claim to others. Bill Tallman assumes Rob's claim is based on hard predictions, and invites Rob to validate the claim, and I had to sympathise with Bill because that is how the claim initially impacted on me. If Rob does intend us to understand that his claim does embrace specific predictions that are verifiable, I trust he will confirm this. In which case I will challenge him to predict the winner of the U.S. presidential election in advance, here in Exegesis. If Rob remains gung-ho in response to this challenge, perhaps he'd like to have a go at the America's Cup, a more proximate target?
Mark's response pointed to the spiritual dimension of guidance, which as well as motivating many astrologers in our times, provided a minority strand in the historical tradition all the way back to Firmicus Maternus and Porphyry, if not further. He notes the rationale of soft prediction: ""understanding" brings greater freedom, thus freeing the subject from the predicted, conceived of as an inevitability." Some months ago I reproduced here the similar reasoning that St Thomas Aquinas used to make this type of astrology acceptable to the Catholic church hierarchy (see actual quote in Ex4/51).
I fully agree with Andre's description of our discussions of this subject, also in respect of the astroscience interface. I suspect that Rob's strategy of arriving here and immediately setting up a straw man in order to vigorously knock him down is a tad too traditional to be productive, given that traditionalists are conspicuous by their absence here. I quite understand that a busy professional astrologer would find it hard to get time to get fully briefed before making such a debut, but the Exegesis website archive is available (almost up to date), for his perusal at http://www3.pgh.net/~fgk/exegesis/exegesis_toc.html if Rob does want to become aware of the prior context of the discussion.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 101
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