Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #1

From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: paradigm shift, holistic context, reincarnation

Exegesis Digest Tue, 04 Jan 2000

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999 14:02:23 +1300
From: Janice & Dennis
To: Exegesis
Subject: paradigm shift, holistic context, reincarnation

Will astrologers be dragged kicking and screaming into the new millennium? I have a hunch that the protection and security they derive from their niche in the (lunatic fringe) cultural backwater may not continue too much longer. Social trends seem to be channelling a current of change in their direction, tugging the niche toward the mainstream. The pattern of convergence evident in the paradigm shift may even become a vortex. What then?

To explain what a paradigm is I provided an appendix in my book which included 18 quotes, mainly from Kuhn. The notion is now widely, if loosely, understood. An extensive multi-disciplinary understanding arose in the mid-'80s due to the comprehensive description provided by Fritjof Capra in 1982 ("The Turning Point") and Ken Wilber's influential "The Holographic Paradigm", published the same year. Typical as an illustration of this is the capsule summary below, provided by social scientist and adviser to the British government James Robertson in 1985 ("The Future of Work", p191/2).

He outlines alternative visions of the post-industrial future: the HE (hyper-expansionist) alternative is business as usual, in which capitalism, big science and technocrats complete the consumption of natural resources and eliminate nature, and the SHE alternative (sane, humane, ecological) in which a symbiotic relation between humanity and nature is developed.

"A paradigm shift is the change that takes place from time to time in a basic belief or assumption (or in a constellation of basic beliefs or assumptions) underlying our perceptions and actions. It can be seen as the cultural equivalent of an evolutionary leap. The concept of a paradigm shift arose from studies of the history of science. It was given currency by T. S. Kuhn in his book, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". Kuhn concluded that the successive transition front one paradigm to another via revolution is the actual developmental pattern of mature science ... When an individual or group first produces a synthesis able to attract most of the next generation's practitioners, the older schools gradually disappear. In part, their disappearance is caused by their members' conversion to the new paradigm. But there are always some men who cling to one or another of the old views, and they are simply read out of the profession which thereafter ignores their work."

"The prevailing paradigm provides the agenda for all the ongoing activities of routine practitioners of science. As the paradigm shift occurs, those activities change their direction in accordance with the new paradigm. In very much the same way as Kuhn described for science, prevailing paradigms provide the context for routine activity in non-scientific affairs, and shifts take place from one paradigm to another. For example, human beings can see themselves as outside nature, whence they can observe it, dominate it and exploit it; or, by contrast, they can feel themselves to be an integral part of nature. One aspect of the change of direction to the SHE future will be a shift from the first of these two paradigms to the second, i.e. from a scientific and economic view of nature to an ecological and spiritual view. Again, the dominant paradigm in economic affairs may be one of maximising and expansion; or it may be one of sufficiency and balance. A shift from the first to the second of these two paradigms will also be part of the transition to the SHE future."

It needs to be understood that paradigms bind the individual to the collective. Adherence to a common belief system is the most evident psychological manifestation produced by the action of the paradigm. The religious implication is obvious (religio = to bind). That people are bound by the group mind is a boundary issue. Saturn. Their sense of reality is defined by the community belief system. So what happens when someone's personal subjective reality absorbs understandings about the nature of collective reality that are discordant with the group belief?

Much has been made in the past couple of decades of the `religion of scientism', particularly by Rob Hand. Science traditionally binds people into conformity, so the paradigm shift only comes when the mismatch between conventional group reality and new understandings of a more comprehensive reality provokes multiple individual dissent. Boundary issues are activated, heresies condemned by the defenders of the citadel, rebels ejected from the community. Saturn and Uranus are the archetypes most evidently activated in the individual psyche by nonconformity and transgression of the bounds. Dramatic cases of scientific careers ruined, advocates of new paradigms marginalised by mass denial, revolutionary discoverers of new knowledge driven to suicide, pillars of the establishment resorting too fraud to defend the status quo, all abound in the history of science.

What is lacking is a theoretical perspective to explain all this. We know that demonising someone involves projection, typically from, if not of, one's shadow. But Jung's explanation applies to the individual, and interpersonal relations. I believe that the holistic relation of a member to a group is fundamentally deeper, and a more profound and substantial organic connection. The astrologer has ready-made framework for interpreting this collective relationship: it was first outlined by Dane Rudhyar in 1942 in "The Pulse of Life". In this book Rudhyar explained the signs of the zodiac as archetypal stages of societal process, as progress. This framework implicitly relates an individual to a society of which s/he is a member. We should be more explicit and recognise that an individual has holistic relations with any number of enclosing larger wholes, in which s/he is a part. The zodiacal archetype provides a model which may illuminate the main features of such relations.

Rather than go into the details of that now, I simply want to document the paradigmatic significance of holistic context. The new paradigm depicts cosmos as holarchy, to emphasise the holistic relations between parts and any wholes they belong to. The astrological framework traditionally recognises cosmos, galaxy, solar system, and Earth, as combined in the horoscope. Modern astrological interpretation includes a societal framework, the social houses (above the horizon) primarily in relation to the Midheaven, courtesy of Rudhyar. Meaning is ascertained by relating the individual to the total holistic context.

The fundamental part played by holistic context in the paradigm shift is illustrated in the quoted section below from an article by two professors of philosophy entitled "Intertheoretic reduction: a neuroscientist's field guide". When previously separate theories, located in apparently separate domains of knowledge, are reduced to a single more comprehensive theory, the multi-disciplinary convergence of the new paradigm is given academic form.

"This reduction of chemistry to physics is notable for the further reason that it is not yet complete, and probably never will be. < snip > Accordingly, it is not true that all chemical knowledge has been successfully reconstructed in quantum-mechanical terms. Only the basics have, and then only in approximation. But our experience here firmly suggests that quantum physics has indeed managed to grasp the underlying elements of chemical reality. We thus expect that any particular part of chemistry can be approximately reconstructed in quantum-mechanical terms, when and if the specific need arises."

"The preceding examples make it evident that intertheoretic reduction is at bottom a relation between two distinct conceptual frameworks for describing the phenomena, rather than a relation between two distinct domains of phenomena. The whole point of a reduction, after all, is to show that what we thought to be two domains is actually one domain, though it may have been described in two (or more) different vocabularies. Perhaps the most famous reduction of all is Einstein's twentieth-century reduction of Newton's three laws of motion by the quite different mechanics of the Special Theory of Relativity (STR). STR subsumed Newton's laws in the following sense. If we make the (false) assumption that all bodies move with velocities much less than the velocity of light, then STR entails a set of laws for the motion of such bodies, a set that is experimentally indistinguishable from Newton's old set. It is thus no mystery that those old Newtonian laws seemed to be true, given the relatively parochial human experience they were asked to account for."

"But while those special-case STR laws may be experimentally indistinguishable from Newton's laws, they are logically and semantically quite different from Newton's laws: they ascribe a significantly different family of features to the world. Specifically, in every situation where Newton ascribed an intrinsic property to a body (e.g. mass, or length, or momentum, and so forth), STR ascribes a relation, a two-place property (e.g. x has a mass-relative-to-an-inertial-frame-F, and so on), because its portrait of the universe and what it contains (a unitary four-dimensional space-time continuum with four-dimensional world-lines) is profoundly different from Newton's."

"Here we have an example where the special-case resources and deductive consequences of the new and more general theory are not identical, but merely similar, to the old and more narrow theory it purports to reduce. That is to say, the special-case reconstruction achieved within the new theory parallels the old theory with sufficient systematicity to explain why the old theory worked as well as it did in a certain domain, and to demonstrate that the old theory could be displaced by the new without predictive or explanatory loss within the old theory's domain; and yet the new reconstruction is not perfectly isomorphic to the old theory. The old theory turns out not just to be narrow, but to be false in certain important respects. Space and time are not distinct, as Newton assumed, and there simply are no intrinsic properties such as mass and length that are invariant over all inertial frames."

"The trend of this example leads us toward cases where the new and more general theory does not sustain the portrait of reality painted by the old theory at all, even as a limiting special case or even in its roughest outlines. ... examples of theoretical entities that have been eliminated from serious science include caloric fluid, the rotating crystal spheres of Ptolemaic astronomy, the four humours of medieval medicine, the vital spirit of pre-modern biology, and the luminiferous aether of pre-Einsteinian mechanics. In all these cases, the newer theory did not have the resources necessary to reconstruct the furniture of the older theory or the laws that supposedly governed its behaviour; but the newer theory was so clearly superior to the old as to displace it regardless." [PM & PS Churchland, p68/9, "Nature's Imagination", ed. John Cornwell, 1995]

So the trend in the 21st century is likely to be towards more comprehensive descriptions of collective reality that bridge different disciplines. This was anticipated by Smuts in the 1920s (holism) and Von Bertalanffy in the 1960s (general systems theory), but a collection of rather vague general principles is not enough to do more than provide a metaphysical basis for integrating astrology with the multi-disciplinary convergence being provided by the new paradigm. We are still at the stage of tentative identification of common ground, plus the fore-shadowing of conceptual relations that may apply.

It seems noteworthy that relativity requires properties of things to be relational, not inherent. For astrologers this would mean that meanings relate to a frame of reference. The inherent qualities of astrological archetypes would not be recognised by this view, but their manifestations would, because each archetype takes (apparent) form in some frame of reference. Commonly used frames of reference therefore provide us with sources of objective meaning, although users will vary in their ability to decode what they contain. Some will even be completely unable to differentiate between meanings emerging in the holomovement and meanings emerging from within that they inadvertently then project onto the frames of reference in the horoscope. One need only attend an astrology conference to be overwhelmed by the cascading diverse marvellous illustrations of this tendency that pile into a veritable tower of Babel. Astrobabble!

It is also noteworthy that space and time are deemed not separate in relativity. By the reduction of a primal duality of consciousness to a more fundamental unity, they constitute a continuum, an holistic context.

I thought it was rather unkind to describe Ptolemy's cosmic spheres as crystal. I don't recall him using that description. My understanding is that he and the other ancients all imagined the spheres. Presumably this was originally by extrapolation from the sky looking like a dome, although Earth was known to be a sphere rotating on its axis by classical times. Anyway these spheres were conceived as a model of heaven, much as modern scientific theories are models.

"Sublunar is now an archaic term, widely used in medieval astrology. It is derived from the Ptolemaic planetary model, and referred to that sphere which was contiguous with the sphere of the Moon. It therefore included the spheres of the four elements, the Earth itself, and Hell. In a general usage, it referred to all earthly things, which were subject to mutation, unlike the superlunar, which was supposed to be incorruptible." [p13, "The Nostradamus Code", D. Ovason, 1997]

The ether and vital spirit were ruled out of bounds prematurely, I suspect. A considerable reincarnational paradigm is constellating these days, not just in the new-age movement. Meticulous documentation of near-death experiences is accumulating, and serious compilations are looming as authoritative. Rudhyar correlated the fire element with spirit, but I'm inclined to see it as mere energy. However I have been unable to make profound sense out of the Sun's house position in a birth-chart without adopting a reincarnational perspective. I go so far as to identify the natal Sun with the spirit. I also suspect 12th house planets endow one with karmic lessons that may indeed have a reincarnational basis.

One of the oldest bodies of literature in the world, the Vedas, "dates from at least 4000 years ago, about the time that the first Babylonian Empire emerged in Mesopotamia. Running through this ancient literature is the concept of reincarnation." Rather amusingly, the media describes it as a new-age fad. From the Bhagavad Gita: `As a man leaves an old garment and puts on one that is new, the Spirit leaves his mortal body and then puts on one that is new'. "Hindus and Buddhists believe that every individual is, in reality, an eternal being (each a fragment of the One) which, over many thousands, or many millions of years returns, again and again, to take on another body. All humanity, they teach, is caught within this cycle of birth and death.. Successive lives are better or worse, pleasant or unpleasant, depending on the quality of karma (meaning `action') which might be faced. This karma arises from past actions; it denotes the amount of good or bad which might have accumulated in past lives: it determines whether, in a new life, a person faces retribution or reward."

The correlation of karma with action is interesting. Action is quantified in physics as energy multiplied by time. As we carry out our actions, in time, perhaps we cause ripples that spread through the holistic context of the cosmos. Elemental fire may be the medium, and if Rudhyar was right to equate fire with spirit perhaps it is in this sense. Such a spirit medium may somehow be conveying our ripples to a cosmic central processor which ensures we get visited by appropriate down-stream consequences.

The Hermetica originated in Egypt during its Greek period about 2000 years ago. In the 10th book, "`The Key', Hermes explains what occurs when the soul leaves the body: `The irreverent soul, however, stays in its own essence, punishing itself, seeking an earthly body to enter - a human body, to be sure. For no other body contains a human soul, it is not allowed for a human soul to fall down into the body of an unreasoning animal'." I seem to recall Edgar Cayce, or rather the entity he was channelling, was quite emphatic on this point also. Quite a fundamental doctrinal divergence here - Hindus (and Buddhists?) apparently believe nasty people are likely to reincarnate as animals (maybe cockroaches if they have been really naughty). [Quotes from "Ancient Traces", M Baigent, 1998 p223/4]

We can be more definite in regard to the ether, inasmuch as the consensus in modern theoretical physics is that space is teeming with particles popping in and out of existence all the time, plus continuously awash with radiation. The reason they refuse to admit that this is ether is reluctance to admit to collective error. To err is human, and no self-respecting scientist wants to be seen as anything less than god-like.

I think I had better conclude with a summary in case the theme has seemed too subtle. Meaning in the new paradigm will be referenced explicitly to the holistic context, our total environment. It will then be localised, on a collective basis, using traditional frames of reference. The holarchy of nature will therefore be described in detail by reference to the main sub-wholes of the cosmos that are of anthropocentric relevance. These sub-wholes that are the main features of generic human perception are qualitatively unique, and are correlated with traditional frames of reference (such as in the horoscope). The individual has an organic connection to the holarchy, mediated by cyclic changes within more local sub-wholes (galaxy, solar system, home planet). Astrology employs the horoscope to decode the details of this evolutionary development.

Perhaps, since we are on the verge of the millennium, I ought to extend this conclusion with some extrapolation of cultural trends and comment on implications for the paradigm shift. Western civilisation is still in a reaction phase to a prior period of excessive uniformity. The pendulum will swing back slowly from the current excessive personal deviance, to where free-will is recognised as an inherent capacity of the individual within the inherent constraints of an emerging global social order. Obviously it is early days for this yet, but I expect cosmology to become overtly organicist in the 21st century. It became so for environmentalists, new-agers, and other avante-garde dissenters from western orthodoxy in recent decades, and an east/west convergence has been in process. Traditional ethnic cosmology around the globe seems almost totally organicist, and the political empowering of tribes that has been evident this decade lends further impetus to the trend.

The current catharsis produced by global warming can expected to produce a trans-national political consensus that makes global population stability a priority before too long. We can expect a symbiotic relation between humanity and nature to begin to seem inevitable (which the emerging paradigm will codify as it becomes more comprehensive), becoming a globally-consensual aspiration via the collective transformative process imposed upon nation states and governments by the transit of Pluto through Capricorn. The transit of Neptune through Pisces is likely to infuse a synthesis of traditional spiritual beliefs in the global melting pot. After the period of catharsis the planet will become more hospitable to survivors, so I expect the return to Gaian spirituality will become even more popular. This would be, in effect, a return to our prehistoric roots.

An enriched, organic, vitalist cosmology is thus the likely consequence of the paradigm shift. But any seeming reduction to emotional banality will not satisfy the intellectuals, who will extend the emerging paradigm in theoretical complexity to explore the spatio-temporal dimensions of the holarchy in more detail, whilst concurrently reducing the paradigm in the direction of simplicity on a multi-disciplinary basis. We can expect a more concentrated investigative focus on qualitative variations in local space/time, with the development of a contemporary philosophical/theoretical framework of astrology becoming inevitable.

In terms of individual psychology, general mental health is very likely to improve after the catharsis, as the home planet becomes more habitable and people deepen their understanding of their connection to it. Globalism will result in the reduction of sectarian divides, the current resurgence of tribalism being merely a passing phase due to the transit of Pluto through Sagittarius. So the most fertile arena for the intellect in the 21st century will be collective psychodynamics, group psychology in the context of a globalising society, with a focus on the generic factors that motivate social cohesion and increase the quality of life in a community.

So, given that the degrees of freedom of an individual are innate, we can expect a slow return to communal coherence and conformity. But this will not be the rigid conformity of yore, when humans were moulded, stamped, and pressed into the form of cogs in social machines, reduced to economic slavery and moral frigidity. A balance is likely to be produced in a globally pluralist cultural environment, in which innate chaotic tendencies of the psyche may motivate freedom of choice and expression within looser constraints produced by a consensual transnational, pan-tribal morality. The orchestra in the psyche will be allowed its freedom to improvise, people can play their loony tunes as usual (as exemplified by astrologers in the astromedia), but such individual deviance will seem increasingly disreputable in a cultural milieu of newly-emerging global common sense.

Dennis Frank


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