|Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #12
Exegesis Digest Fri, 17 Mar 2000
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 18:21:24 -0800
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #9 and #10
> [Bill Tallman wrote:] 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.
> Not sure who "we" refers to here. If astrologers, I wonder at the
> suitability of the generalisation. Perhaps you could expand on this to
> clarify the point, Bill? I may well readily agree, but I'm finding it too
Ah yes, my penchant for obfuscation arose whilst I wasn't looking < grin > .
The point was that we do the same things in real life that scientists do in science. The difference is that in science those things are formalized and subjected to critical analysis, while common practice is disposed to define those things with traditional "folk wisdom" (if you will).
The processes we call reductionism in science are well regarded as prudent and wise ways of dealing with life when practiced by the common man. We routinely divide out matters and issues into manageable parts, and we call it "taking one step at a time", or some such. We routinely make down and dirty judgements, hopefully in a timely manner, and we call it our "best guess", based on what we know at the time, and on the rather well demonstrated proposition that a timely action often relieves one of the necessity to invest much greater effort and resources if one does not so act. It is tacitly understood that the object is to eventually put enough of these procedures together to create an adequate over-all understanding; we call this balancing the trees and the forest in our vision.
Science is practiced exactly the same way, if in a much more formal manner. To castigate science as being inadequate or irrelevant because we assume that the popular expression of that formalism demonstrates the contention is tatamount to accepting the word of gossip as gospel, I think. Reductionism is a powerful methodology, but it is not the whole of science. Reductionism does not address the traditional search for the holy grail of the unified field theory, although that tradition has been called other names and understood differently at different times. As I've said before, the critics of science really don't know what they are talking about, as far as I am concerned: science is a very messy process that constantly struggles to achieve some coherence, so that it can produce robust and useful understanding, and this mirrors real life extremely well.
My argument is that the common man can come to a more effective understanding of how we address our daily life if a real assessment of these similar processes is made. We practice reductionism daily, and no one is hung up on the idea that it is a deadly modality; all we observe is that it's a good way to know about trees and a poor way to view forests. Of course such an assessment is likely to generate more than just this insight, but that was the issue of interest in my comments.
> 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?
> I sympathised with the general drift of this passage, but you lost me in the
> final question. What are we defining as non-existent? To the first
> question, I have no hesitation in answering no. I give my clients answers,
> usually carefully qualified and conditional. That is to say, I outline the
> archetypal context, suggest likely options and comment on their respective
> merits, then give my advice on the best way to handle the circumstances.
We seem to be disposed to stipulate that astrology is simply an artifice that can exist with no basis in reality, useful for the purposes to which the astrologer puts it for reasons that are essentially unknowable. What we are saying is that astrology has no objective reason for existence, and therefore cannot be expected to have such an existence. In consequence, we are not compelled to address the question, even if asked to do so; we are saying that we are being asked to pose a question that can have no answer (what is astrology in its own right?), and so we are justified in the choice to ignore the issue entirely.
> 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.
> Hang on, I didn't mean to suggest that. I'm not sure what you thought I
> was suggesting does not exist. I guess it was the archetypal unique quality
> of each zodiacal degree. Well, I see this as a useful working hypothesis.
> It would be premature to doubt its existence merely because astrologers have
> not managed to develop a consensus on the meanings.
Sorry, I didn't intend to point a finger here. That answer follows from the previous argument, even though it was applicable as stated. The idea is that knee-jerk scepticism is as inappropriate for astrologers as it is for scientists. I suppose you can discern that I holler loudly about this sort of thing because I've had occasion to embarrass myself in this regard.
> [myself] 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.
> Actually, that's what I thought I had been doing, and I share your
> sentiment, whether it be hunch or bias. However I also share Dale Huckeby's
> scepticism of the habits, beliefs and practices of astrologers. I suppose
> the best answer to the final point is the power of myth.
I include the entire thread here deliberately.
I recall with much warmth watching Bill Moyers interview with Joseph Campbell just before the old man died. If there was ever an advocate of the power of myth, it was that man, I suppose; yet the sense that myth was universally responsible for the knowledge of mankind until modern times didn't show up in his luminous exposition of his ideas. The idea I got was that the mythification of traditional lore was a powerful force in the informing of the culture in which a society arises, but that there was no assertion that the myths themselves had no basis in fact.
The definition of history before modern times as being essentially mythical (allegorical and designed for purposes other than the transmission of historical knowledge) is one that is posited on a discernably shakier foundation than the advocates of the idea care to admit. Heroditus turns out to be anything but the "Father of Lies", especially when you consider how careful he was to stipulate the difference between what was his own observation and what was hearsay.
The assumption that our ancient understanding of our environment was limited solely to the myths that have survived from those times is plausible only as an initial estimate, based on first impression. That those myths informed the cultures that created them and those from which they descended is a rather compellingly supported argument. but the assumption that they were created out of whole cloth for the purpose of explaining the unknown and unknowable to the populace is not so supported. There is a distinct difference between what a thing is and what effect that thing may have; the myths powerfully describe the second but do not necessarily address the first.
We assume that our ancient understanding was limited to those myths because we have no evidence to the contrary, or so we have decided. This is a dangerous assumption to assert as truth. The presumption here is that 1) we adequately understand the evidence we perceive, and 2) that we perceive all the evidence that exists in these regards. This is a presumption that continues to cause embarrassment to those who hold it.
There is a traditional lore of astrology that is couched in mythical terms. This doesn't mean that no one ever understood the source of that lore. The evidence at hand suggests that the lore itself was questionable to those who were called upon to validate it as a means of knowledge transmission as far back as we have written records on the subject of astrology. This tends to imply that they knew the difference between the mythical lore used in transmission and the technical understanding that those who generated it actually possessed, even if they had no access to that understanding itself.
My purpose here has been to point out that we need to seek that technical understanding itself.
> tacit. You have to subscribe to the concept of standing waves on a circle,
> another big ask, and, I suspect, a rather curly one. Seen any lately?
Prince Louis de Broglie, amongst others, posited just such a matter which contributed to our understanding of the structure of an atom (he went on to postulate their existence in matter in general)
Superstring theory seems to be gaining ground in the search for a unification between quantum mechanics and relativity. Strings are conceived as one dimension loops that have the quality of producing just such standing wave patterns of vibration. (Superstrings are super symmetrical strings...)
Were I able to see these levels of reality, I suspect I could indeed view as many as I wished..... < grin >
> Addey seems to have tacitly assumed they get generated in the zodiac and
> diurnal cycle, both.....
As it appears that this is a general quality of manifestation, this is probably a plausible assumption. The question is how to proceed from there. We probably should be aware of the presence of these ideas in modern physics if we are to address this matter.
> 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.
> What are the appropriate criteria? Apart from that, I agree. I have tended
> to accept parts of the tradition, for several reasons. Firstly, pure
> pragmatism, in acknowledging the considerable consensus that has existed,
> and still does. Secondly, my intuition advises me that elements of the
> tradition ring true.
One criteria is the demonstration of historical acceptance and usage, as provided in the works of those who did so. Of course, we have to be able to support any such acceptance with a further demonstration of the validity of our understanding of it, and that is going to take a bit of work... has already done so, I'm given to understand...
On the matter of trusting intuition, I would again suggest that the only trustworthy intuition is that which is based on a sound foundation of understanding. The informed intuition of the trained worker is likely to have value, while the intuition of the uninformed work is as likely to be a shot in the dark. No amount of work or preparation in the arena of astrology is going to provide an astrologer with the relevant understanding here, because it simply does not now exist, I suspect. Indeed, it is the understanding that can support useful intuitive evaluation of technique that we seek!
I have no reason to question the efficacy of your intuitive capacities, Dennis, but none of us understand the basics of the astrological phenomena well enough to provide that intuitive capacity with enough information to produce meaningful results.
> fun to practise. Do continue to keep us posted, but disinterring myriad
> ancient techniques to add to the pile of irrelevant modern ones isn't going
> to advance us. Discovering some profound cosmic wisdom, principle or
> insight, that transforms our current understanding, is what will do it. PH
> has never given me any inkling that this likely.
The presumption of irrelevance has no foundation in fact, I assert. We don't know and won't know until we do the work. My understanding is that Schmidt is currently in the process of putting to press the results of his work in this regard. It will be interesting to read what he has to say, as he appears to be well qualified in all regards in this matter.
> I concur with this assessment, with, perhaps, the proviso that it not be
> interpreted as too limiting. Certain fundamentals seem worth retaining from
> the tradition, and the rest is disposable. We are free to redefine what we
> retain, and also to adopt any new elements that seem relevant and
> consistent. I notice use of the term "objectively", trailing its usual
> tacit fish-hooks. Given that the astrological tradition is just as
> thoroughly metaphysical as any modernised theory of astrology, how might
> either be deemed to be "objectively valid"? Rhetorical question, really.
> The question is how to attain relative objectivity in our arena!
We are indeed free to do all these things, but we are not free from the burden of demonstrating the validity of what we do *when and if* we offer it in the marketplace of ideas. At that point, all these niggling issues arise to be addressed, and if they are not, the demonstration cannot be made.
Objectivity is the quality of having independent existence, if you will. Without the quality of objectivity, any notion we might have can be presumed to exist solely within the environs of the interior landscape of the proposer, and it is fair to ask if that existence has any connection with a reality that might be useful to anyone else. Indeed, for any idea to have general value in the intellectual marketplace, it must be relevant to any given appropriate reality, and it can only do so to the extent that it has its own existence as an "object" in its own right. But all this is surely common and rudimentary understanding, is it not?
Metaphysicality is now taken to imply only virtual, not real, existence. That's probably not useful, however apparently plausible. It's too easy to assign that quality to anything that persists as a concept but cannot be compellingly demonstrated in real and material terms. Metaphysics, as a term, has now become a catchall for useless notions. That's too bad, because it eliminates metaphysics as a valuable discipline in its own right.
Astrology can be made objectively valid only to the extent that we can create reproducible results and show some sort of reason why we can do so. The first part is not as difficult as we seem to think it is, but the second is gonna be a challenge, I fear.
> I received a message from Robert Hand a few days ago in which he clarifies=
> a few
> points that have recently been made about him in this list. I asked if I c=
> ould send
> part of the message to the list and he readily agreed. It follows here:
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - begin quote [snip]
Interesting that Hand is aware of this list. Also interesting that he deems it unworthy of his time and efforts.
> I also wanted to mention here that my new ISP is not showing itself to be =
> of an improvement over the lackluster service I just quit. In fact, the ne=
> w service
> has been mostly unavailable during the recent Mercury retrograde. Very ann=
> I will likely make another move soon.
Awww... You are really not having any luck at all, Fran!!
There is a cornucopia of cyberservices out there, and I gotta think that there's one that will work for you. It may be that you need to separate your access ISP from your service ISP... I know, they all want money, but competition is only gonna get fiercer and that's going to drive the cost down. Wish I could be of help!
> I'm always reading with interest what Dennis and Bill post on the list,
> far most of value that what I can see elsewhere. Nevertheless it's a
> pity that there is no more participation and reactions from others. I
> know, for instance, that the new vision of Houses I've posted here in
> Christmas seems terribly strange, and that astrologers take in
> consideration only that they have already read and recognized, even
> if you are giving good reasons.
I agree and appreciate your interest, Patrice.
The eight house structure appears to have been used by some of the ancients in the way we now use the Houses, while the twelve house structure simply reflects the twelve Signs and was used by them to assign planetary strength in some fashion. Or so I understand from my own reading.
It seems clear to me that the eight house structure needs to be shaken out and put to the test. We might do well to discuss this here.
> the TWELVE (signs) remains problematic. There was a calendar of 12
> months before the existence of zodiac, and in Mesopotamia, some
> proto-zodiacs with 17, and after 14 constellations were existing before
> the 6th century B.C.
The twelve Signs were a convenient way of representing the tropical seasons, which more closely aligned them with terrestrial phenomena and concerns. It seems to work very well, and needn't have continuous correspondence to the constellations intercepted by the plain of the ecliptic.
> 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.
> - That is the question. It could be that the ancien material and rules
> are invalid. Then, the work is to find the logic underlying this
> material, which could lead us to a vision of astrology, compatible with
> modern thought.
That's the work that needs to be done in any case. We are well served to assume that the ancient material had its own validity, and then work to discern what that was then and how it may remain so today.
I think I'll do a post on Ptolemy, in order to make a contribution to that aspect of the discussion here.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 5 Issue 12
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