Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #8

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Whistling, and other matters.

From: "Francis G. Kostella"
Subject: Address Change

Exegesis Digest Wed, 16 Feb 2000

Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 20:50:22 -0800
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: Exegesis
Subject: Whistling, and other matters.

Dennis said:

 > All this is fair enough, if rather beside the point since the same can be
 > said of any scientific modelling. Is Bill advocating the Popperian
 > criterion of falsifiability? Plenty of writers have commented in recent
 > decades on how the theory of evolution has been retained despite not being
 > falsifiable.

Perhaps not as immaterial as one might think. I would point out that scientific modelling is a rigorous application of what we all do anyway, most of the time. The difference between down and dirty and the scientific process is that of intent and purpose. For us, we work within the constraints of available data and window of opportunity, assuming from experience that we will have to improvise in any case when new data arrives at the moment of action: battle plans nearly always cease to be valid when combat begins. For science, the purpose is to provide as robust information as possible, given the state of things at the moment. The intent is supplied by the user of the information, who would like it to be as trustworthy as possible.

So the difference is not one of kind, but of degree. The strictures of science are used by each of us, but only as time and data permit. It's probable that we could make a comparison between the wisdom acquired through experience and the scientific knowledge that survives that sort of testing; the terms and usages are different but the results are much the same: tested and dependable knowledge.

We all certainly pay attention to the process of falsification in real life, but we do so on a case by case basis, using the parameters and values that derive from each situation. I suggest that we differentiate the activities of science and real life inappropriately, and that in doing so, we lose a valuable level of insight into what is really going on in our lives.

 > I had described Kepler as that rare astrologer who is interested in what is
 > really going on. That is why he functioned as pioneer scientist despite
 > being employed as astrologer royal. I think Bill is suggesting that
 > some/many are inclined to fall into the trap of assuming that reality can be
 > defined. Very true for most of those indoctrinated with the old paradigm.
 > I suspect that pluralism has so afflicted the younger generations that few
 > of them would even dream of trying. My perception of the best postmodern
 > take on this issue is that there are a range of persuasive and seemingly
 > appropriate descriptions around, with an encouraging degree of overlap &
 > concurrence. As for the relative extent of pan-cultural portability, it's
 > early days yet. The trickle-down of wisdom is even slower than that of
 > dollars.

"Experts" fall into this trap with numbing regularity, I suggest. This indicates that there is a demand for their product and indeed there is; instant answers for a reasonable price is what western civilization assumes is the product of professional knowledge. Fewer people than we might imagine realize that expanded knowledge raises more questions than answers, I submit. Of those few, some are presumably philosophers of the 'new paradigm'. The rest do the best they can with what they have at hand, one supposes, and recognizes that the reality of life is process rather than a journey toward some imagined state (of perfection?).

Only those people who can accept this view will find pan-cultural portability useful, and they will be a tiny minority. What we are talking about is so far beyond the realm of most people's experience that they would find our concerns ludicrous, and that "sad truth" tells the truth with which we must also deal: the world's population simply cannot use what is not immediately applicable, by and large. They either acquire what they lack or they do without, and very few are able to invent what they need at this level within the constraints of time and opportunity that describe their lives. So they turn to those who are supposed to supply that need and they expect the product assembled, tuned and ready for use; knowledge 'kits' and directions for assembly and operation are discarded and ignored, for they haven't the time, the inclination or the ability to find them valuable.

Hence, religion is the common source, whether it be based on the spiritual tradition of a person or people, or the practice of a craft that is found dependably capable of supplying what is wanted. And we who engage this material here are regularly called upon to be the priests and prophets they wish to visit. Do we tell them there are no answers, that they must seek their own, knowing that what they find will be of use only to them and probably only for a short time at that? Do we simply avoid being put in that position? Of what use to the public at large is any of this? How do we answer the charge that we are simply abdicating the active search for what we seek by defining it as nonexistent?

 > "We do the best we can to achieve maximum precision in our understanding,
 > but we are well advised to realize that the more extreme the precision we
 > develop, the more vulnerable it is to being invalidated by the changes
 > occuring in the process of interest. It is the "ball park estimate" that
 > provides the compass whereby we can validate the direction of our more
 > subtle efforts." I quite agree. That why I believe that metaphysical
 > reasoning will be more productive in pursuing the aims of Exegesis.

Yes, that's a rather powerful argument in this regard. I suggest we are well advised to make our metaphysics as accessable to the common man as we can, because what we use now is what we will have to offer others when they ask.

 > "How do we account for the apparent reality of the power of certain Zodiacal
 > positions? How do we explain the specific essence of certain Zodiacal
 > degrees?" Ah, to the point, indeed! [snip]
 > Certain zodiacal positions may assume apparent power due to the effective
 > advocacy of theoreticians, or competent astrologers, who function
 > effectively
 > as propagandists. A psychological mechanism is at work here, linking
 > individual and collective. Signs in the heavens are transitory or fixed.
 > Those fixed, once enough people copy the originator and repeat the
 > interpretation to generate a consensus, eventually also become fixed also in
 > the ruling paradigm of society. The question most relevant to this mailing
 > list is whether the signs mean anything real.

The short answer, then, is that it is not necessary to explain what does not exist. Somehow this sounds like the sort of answers I've heard from a certain type of scientist.

 > By suggesting that there is a reality out there, in the postmodern world, I
 > may seem to be stepping onto a lilypad. Chortles of derision may accompany
 > my frothy subsidence into the cosmic soup, huh? Well, I don't expect to get
 > my feet wet. Cosmos, out there as well as in here, can indeed provide us
 > with real information. The problem lies only in the extent to which we can
 > agree on what is real. Sophistry? Almost, but not quite. We can agree
 > with Hipparchus, and define the zodiac with respect to the vernal equinox of
 > the northern hemisphere, anchoring its structure on the 4 corners of the
 > world. We can recycle the traditional logic that provides it with a further
 > substructure derived from the solunar relationship cycle, and recycle the
 > traditional metaphysical matrix of elements and modes that gives it 12 equal
 > archetypal phases. Pan-cultural export of this notion has always been a
 > matter of taste and limited only by religious conformity.

I get the impression that the current assumption is that any extant astrological tradition must by definition be invalid. If this is so, I'd be interested in discovering the logic applicable here.

Would it not be more effective to seek to discover why that tradition exists? I must admit I don't see how something that has lasted as long as the astrological tradition can be entirely without any real basis.

 > As far as individual degrees are concerned, in theory this seemed best done
 > by harmonic analysis, when I was learning astrology. But nobody followed
 > through on Addey's work. The Jones/Rudhyar mediumistic approach may be
 > feasible, but lack of subsequent consensus is not encouraging.

Perhaps. I suspect that no further work has been done following Addey because no one has seen how to proceed. It might be that this is no longer necessarily so, in which case it might be something worth discussing here. The mediumistic approach seems to have yielded something useful, and I suggest we are better advised to seek to understand why this is so; the Sabian symbols don't agree with any of the earlier work, at least any of which I am aware, so there's no compelling reason to expect that any subsequent consensus will agree either. None of these appear to have any discernable connection to a geometry of harmonics.

 > Bill wrote "The universe is far more complex *in essence* than any one or
 > combination thereof archetypes we might create. Perhaps its best that we
 > remain so constrained, but that is a matter of opinion, of course. Thanks
 > for the info, Dennis. My nit-picking may be regarded as gratuitous, but
 > then we each have to make these decisions for ourselves..."
 > This is indeed the obvious weakness of the metaphysical description I have
 > been advocating. How to explain the multiplicity of life with a simplicity
 > of notions? The best answer runs along the line of logic advocated by
 > complexity theorists in their attempt to explain how forms arise in nature
 > in boundary regions. Order emerges from chaos in apparent complexity, but
 > it seems the process can be modelled quite accurately these days with simple
 > equations. Perhaps we can use this by analogy to explain how social
 > archetypes emerge from natural archetypes, but I doubt it. I think
 > morphogenetic fields are a better explanation.

Indeed. This is why I have suggested that we may well already have answers to some of our questions at hand, but so far fail to recognize them.

 > If my advocacy of elements of a contemporary theory of astrology seems too
 > much like whistling in the dark, I'm not surprised. It has seemed like that
 > to me at times. Like I said once before, I got tired of looking at the
 > vacuum and waiting around for someone else to fill it. I thought progress
 > would finally happen in 1988 when globe-trotting Rob Hand proclaimed the new
 > gospel, "Astrology as a Revolutionary Science" (I still have the tape
 > somewhere). I sat there thinking, "Yeah, great, now let's do it!". But the
 > Saturn/Uranus conjunction wasn't sufficient to dislodge the concrete in
 > their heads. I honour the intent of Exegesis, and would happily go away and
 > do other things if others began to provide constructive contributions.
 > Building a new intellectual and philosophical edifice with a
 > multidisciplinary interface is still required. Discussing peripheral issues
 > just continues the traditional avoidance that astrologers are known for.

You're right, someone has to do the work if it is to get done. Drum beating eventually tires the ear until it is ignored: apparently this is Hand's specialty, as I've been given to understand by those who know him.

Obviously you have made a substantive contribution, Dennis, and the extent to which you have made portions of it available here are inherently worthwhile, regardless of any other contribution, or lack thereof. I would suggest that no effort on anyone else's part relieves you of your purpose for being involved here.

The building of such an edifice is assuredly still required, but an edifice requires material from which it can be constructed, and we still don't have any material that would meet any appropriate criteria in this regard. In fact, we don't have any material at all unless we can accept some part of the tradition, because we have as yet been unable to substantiate any of the new approaches as being an acceptable replacement.

I think we are still at the data gathering stage, and will be until what we have has been systematically explored. Hence, Project Hindsight. Incidentally, for those who don't know, Hand is no longer involved in PH, and the project has been removed from the ARHAT umbrella and made part of another foundation created by Schmidt, et al.

Astrology, as we know it, consists of the application of a traditional craft, the basis of which is for all intents and purposes unknown. We practice it because we get useful results and so are disposed to continue to do so, by and large. The issue is that we don't know why what we do works, and this is generally unacceptable in an era when we are used to having this kind of knowledge in any acceptable profession. At the core of this issue is the apparent fact that there is also very little generally accepted essence of that tradition; as a result of all this, we appear to be unable to see how to proceed.

We cannot simply throw it all out and start over, because if we did, we would have nothing but an idea that in itself is not generally accepted, that is, that astrology itself has any objectively valid existence. We have, then, to choose to address what we have in the tradition, or effectively turn and walk away. As far as I can see, this is the state of the astrological situation.

I would really be interested in discovering what efforts, other than those of PH, in this regard are being made. Perhaps someone out there amongst the couple hundred subscribers to this list can answer this question.




Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 23:08:30 -0500
From: "Francis G. Kostella"
To: exegesis
Subject: Address Change

My new email address is:


and my old address will remain active for another week.

The Exegesis web site will be closed some time in the next week. I will post the new web URL as soon as it is available.

I'm not sure this ISP will be sufficient for my purposes, but will have to do for now....that is, I may be changing ISPs again, and soon.

--fran (your happy moderator)


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