|Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #55
Exegesis Digest Thu, 14 Sep 2000
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 20:03:40 -0600
From: Juan Revilla
Subject: definitions of astrology
> Juan's view, if I interpret it correctly, is the pragmatic one of defining
> astrology as what most astrologers do. Perhaps including what most
> astrologers believe. I'm reluctant to be that pragmatic, since never
> in the history of the human race has it been demonstrated consistently
> that the truth is reliably identified with what most people believe, or do.
The problem is one of defining the object of inquiry because what astrologers do clearly contradicts the notion of Astrology being about a direct relationships between celestial events and people. This can be easily shown and I have given some reasons here. I have written a lot on this matter in the past months on the ACT list and the material is found in my website here: http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/posts/theory.html
By "what astrologers do" I mean the nature of their tools and how the have been using them for centuries. So you are right that my view is pragmatic, but is certainly not based on what astrologers believe. On the other hand I do not accept any type of logic or argument that dismisses the empirical validation of astrological tools clearly contradicting the notion of a direct relationship of people with the sky, simply because they do not conform with my a priori notions of what is valid or "true".
I feel some contradiction in your phrase < truth is [NOT] reliably identified with what most people believe, or do > . I can understand how a belief or an idea can be "not true", but I don't understand how what someone does could be either "true" or "false", especially when the nature of what he or she does is not properly understood or has not been investigated.
I maintain that in astrology --or rather, in the historical/sociological entity called "horoscopic Astrology" (Lorenzo Smerillo, with whom I agree on his historical perspective, can or has furnished a definition of it)-- what people do does not conform with what they think or believe. The reason is that most astrologers --and non astrologers-- unfortunately do not understand the mechanics of the tools they use. I am convinced that historians of science understand what astrology is or is not much, much better than most astrologers.
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 19:28:44 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re Exegesis Digest V5 #53
> Bill Tallman wrote:
> Re V4#45, I think we basically agree, except for the direct
> experience part.
> Good, Bill. I'd like to know why you don't agree with that bit, so I hope
> you will explain your different view.
I think that the direct experience of the astrological effect is an integral part of the development of the study and practice of astrology. I think that has always been true.
Consider: is it reasonable to expect that the lore of astrology was developed by the sort of rigorous methodology we observe today in science? The answer is clear that it was not. In fact, the rigorous methodology itself was developed to exclude as far as possible the effects of unintentional bias in any regard, the very sort of bias that arises from unrecognized or poorly understood factors, such as we can easily describe any direct experience of the astrological effect, whatever that might be. Therefore we must conclude that such experience had to have played a role in the development of astrology, at least to the extent that it actually exists.
And that is, I think, the real question: does the effect actually exist? If it does, then we must expect we are influenced thereby, whether we will or no; indeed, I think its reasonable to expect that those who are knowledgeable of astrology might well be more sensitive as a result of the awareness that knowledge makes possible. It is highly unlikely that the astrologer could be expected to be immune to such an effect if it does exist.
The situation at present seems to me to be about the existence of the effect itself, such that a direct experience of it is a controversial matter. It is safe to exclude such ideas from the "practice of astrology", because it makes it easier to comfortably define; it thereby excludes a loose-end in the theory that is tied to a Pandora's box of other issues of which "modern astrologers" would seem to be anxious to divest themselves. The direct experience of the astrological effect is at best not very different in kind from the issues of ESP, psychism, fortune-telling, etc., etc., etc..
It is the avoidance of those issues, I think, that drives the rejection of the direct experience of the astrological effect by modern astrologers as a legitimate part of the definition of astrology itself.
> Bill also commented on another recent thread:
> One of the most commonly misunderstood concepts in any discussion of [snip]
> seems to be a continual repudiation of any position at all, on anyone's
> It coincided with a number of planets transiting Virgo. People will always
> focus on differences during these periods. Astrologers would only prove
> themselves exceptions to the rule if motivations other than critical (or
> nit-picking) prevailed. Common ground is normally more accessible or
> evident during transits of Scorpio and Aquarius.
The problem far exceeds the scope of these configurations, I think. The Virgo analyst must be expected to understand that differences and similarities must always define each other, and that the emphasis of one and the expense of the other leads to a failure of clarity and an unacceptable loss of accuracy, not to mention precision.....
> One of the more intractable aspects of these, indeed, any, discussions is
> that of generating a consensus of definitions. In a general sense it could
> be observed that the process of generating that consensus is the intended
> aim of the discussion itself; in a practical sense, what works most
> effectively is to establish what agreements can be made at the beginning
> and use them as a basis to proceed to further mutual understanding.
> Yes, but Exegesis has been structured as a discussion forum. Only if
> moderator and participants agreed to establish a `task force' to formalize
> agreements could we reasonably expect contributors to administer appropriate
> self-discipline in order to produce the desired results.
Of course. A discussion forum is, however, a quite legitimate venue to which these ideas should be brought. Indeed, a fruitful discussion might proceed concerning what might be or should be done with these ideas, with the recognition that another forum might be more effective for actual execution thereof.
> Unfortunately, the individual purposes of discussions are generally
> disguised agendas to air one's own views using the discussion format as a
> sounding board, and the considerations of the views of others are seen as
> an interference in that process.
> The difference between a team and a discussion group is created by their
> different purposes. A discussion group mainly functions to raise
> consciousness; people are motivated to comment and inform others of their
> views. Information, entertainment, communicating, teaching, and learning
> characterise the group process. No preference for agreement over
> disagreement is expressly required by the format. A team is vastly
> different; it functions to get specific agreed desired results. In a game,
> these are usually to win, have fun, get exercise, build team spirit, etc. A
> team will normally have a leader and a coach. It has a plan, and when
> operating successfully all members pull together. It is no accident that
> the team format captured the entire capitalist economy in the past decade!
A discussion group is presumably for the process of discussion, or the sharing of ideas and information, or so I believe. The idea that consciousness can be raised when the process involves some number of participants using the format to hear the sound of their own voices doesn't seem to fill the bill, somehow. The nexus of the issue is whether or not the participants are actually listening to each other, or are hearing each other as threats to one's own position. To the extent that this list approximates the former and eschews the latter, we do well... which is why I'm still here, or here again, as the case may be.
> What happens is that the parties involved rather immediately engage in [snip]
> points of agreement of meaning and purpose are not observed.
> Precisely. [Immediately as that word entered my mind, selected as the next
> word/sentence for me to type. Someone on the television in the next room
> uttered that identical word/sentence! Such a synchronicity always cues me
> to check the astroclock: Venus exact on the Descendant in Libra! A signal
> of pleasure in harmonious personal relations, via diplomacy and negotiation.
> The subject matter of any use of language reflects the social process in the
> moment, in which the astrological archetypes are embedded, emerging in
> manifestation. The issues of precision in group process are reflected in
> both Mercury and Sun transiting the mundane 6th in Virgo, the potential
> innovative trend and changing paradigm is reflected in the 11th house Uranus
> in Aquarius. Such synchronicities illuminate how real astrology works.]
I would observe that you've described quite nicely a direct experience of astrology in some manner. As an astrologer (philosopher?) you recognize the significance of non-causally related contemporaneous phenomena, giving it the label of sychronicity. Whether or not this has any valid significance in its own right, the fact that you recognized an astrological phenomena as it happened argues a direct sensitivity thereto, however that may be.
> What is astrology? Well, obviously one can conceive it in a number of ways
> and from a number of points of view, most of which can easily wind up being
> mutually exclusive at some point. And it seems that these discussions
> rather unerringly identify those points straight away, and hold to them
> tenaciously. It appears to me that there is an underlying reason for the
> consistency of this phenomenon, and that should be identified if these
> discussions are to become anything more than proforma platforms of opinion.
> Agreed. What is it?
Well, we all understand the processes involved; to name it baldly implies the legitimacy of guilt and blame, unfortunately. I think we can simply say it's another manifestation of the state of the human condition, such that competition arises from an uncertainty of mutually attainable value; better to err on the side of self defense and live to argue another day than to risk giving it all away and establish a position that might prove less than amenable somewhere down the line. Hence, competition rather than cooperation, and differences rather than similarities.
> This is made even more unfortunate by the obvious presence of intelligence
> and diligence on the part of those who contribute here. Well, that does
> not, as it happens, include me: I must confess that I'm astounded to learn
> that I have a "thought disorder", which disqualifies me in these
> regards....... < lol!!! >
> Huh? Guess I missed that bit. Don't worry, tidy minds produce more than
> ordered thoughts just as tidy gardens produce weeds. All microcosms of
> nature contain elements of chaos...
Yep, I figured that you did. It happened on my busman's holiday and I'm fairly certain you were not present. I appreciate your thoughts, however.... < grin >
> I suggest that the inability to come to any level of agreement about a
> working definition of astrology rests solidly on the use of a particular
> definition as part of one's professional identity. < snip >
> Not really. More that there is no incentive to come to agreement.
> Therefore practitioners never try to do so. Also, I am unconvinced that
> professional astrologers even go so far as to express a definition of
> astrology since I have not noticed any evidence of such. Some, who become
> authors, may venture capsule descriptions in their books that could perhaps
> be extracted from context and considered as contenders for such evidence.
> All that would be lacking is agreement by the author that the descriptions
> are suitable as definitions.
Modern astrologers reserve the right to define astrology as they wish for several reasons: 1) They cannot defend an established position because one does not exist. 2) That one does not exist keeps open the opportunity to advertise that one has discovered some aspect thereof and then proceed to publish/lecture/teach after such an assertion, assuming that the assertion was well received. It's a career potential most astrologers might prefer to retain, I think. 3) The opportunity for fortuitous self redefinition is always an asset to be kept in reserve if it exists, and the lack of a definition for astrology makes it possible for one to reinvent one's astrological persona as necessary.
> I suggest that there be discussions about the manifold possibilities of
> definition of astrology. Such discussion would need to have some points of
> agreement to even get off the ground, of course, and I suspect one of those
> might be the common recognition that astrology can comfortably encompass
> some number of domains and ranges of definition, and do so without risking
> an internal explosion that would consign it to oblivion.
> A sizable bush, but I'd be happy to join others in beating around it. It's
> unlikely to explode in flames, since Yahweh has abandoned the habit in
> recent millennia.
Oh, well.... yeah, he ran out of divine lighter fluid and left the planet to get a refill. He's been sighted in various convenience stores and laundromats, but that's just rumor.... lol!!
> Patrice Guinard wrote:
> Astrology is not what astrologers do, but something that lies beyond
> There now, you see how big this bush is? I'm tempted to share the
> sentiment, but the pragmatist in me forbids it. To do so would be to
> defeat, in advance, any effort of public education. Juan's view, if I
> interpret it correctly, is the pragmatic one of defining astrology as what
> most astrologers do. Perhaps including what most astrologers believe. I'm
> reluctant to be that pragmatic, since never in the history of the human race
> has it been demonstrated consistently that the truth is reliably identified
> with what most people believe, or do. However the starting point for any
> endeavour to define astrology must be the understanding of the subject held
> collectively in the public mind. This is probably most readily identified
> by consulting the dictionary.
My turn: Precisely!!!!!!!
There are three truths: what we agree happened, what we privately think happened, and what actually did happen. Well...... something like that, I suppose. The value of truth is that we are satisfied with it and at peace with our environment in its regard. The environment, for us, is almost entirely other people, and that means at least the attempt to forge useful agreements.
Whether the truth is ever perceived is not as important as the process of everybody (or most bodies) getting on the same page in the matter. That can mean that the matter needs to be argued, requiring an inspection of differences, etc.. It can also mean that the matter needs action, requiring some cohesion lest all energy and effort dissipate in dissonance and disappear in low grade heat!!
We've had lot's of heat and perhaps its time to at least begin to forge a common platform upon which we can all stand, such that we can move forward with opportunities for investigation that have only recently become available. What are they? Let's get together and go look!!!
> Patrice seems to be indicating a preference for the underlying reality that
> astrology purports to address, and I share that priority. However we don't
> know what it is, and have merely our respective partial descriptions of it
> that differ from each other. I think improving upon the traditional
> definition would be more productive.
Well said!! How do we go about making those improvements? It's time to stop arguing and start making some real plans for action, I think.
> You know, Patrice and Dennis, there is real value in the recognition that [snip]
> Perhaps reality consists of all these views together?
> Close. The way I see it is that reality is best seen via a synthesis of
> apparently relevant views. That approach is essentially modern, or
> postmodern perhaps, in counterpoint to the use of dictionary and accepted
> understanding. It should be used as soon as improvement of the old meaning
> seems sufficiently effected.
How does one forge a synthesis? How does one test the result? Are these antigonal activities?
Juan Revilla said:
> From: Patrice Guinard
> Astrology is not what astrologers do, but something that lies beyond them...
> OK. So our objects of inquiry and interest are different.
> If what astrologers have been doing for thousands of years... [snip]
> .. contradicts clearly the idea I have of what astrology is, let's ignore
> it, too bad for the astrologers. It means that astrologers, since before
> the time of Ptolemy, have gone astray.
Juan seems to regard astrology as only a practice. What other 'ology can be said to be only a practice? I'd like some frame of reference within which I can understand this.
> Juan, you are constrained by the narrowness of your view of astrology.
> So is everybody.
Nope, not me, sir. I don't know what astrology is, but I'd sure like to find out. So I'm open to any supportable idea.
> Opinions about the worth of arguments does not constitute a discussion.
Why not? I'm telling you that you're in a small box here, Juan. I'm telling you that you've arbitrarily rejected any possibility of considering a rather substantial part of the lore of astrology itself by having done so.
> We are basing ourselves on different definitions of what constitutes
> astrology and what doesn't. To define astrology in terms of
> < a mechanism > by which certain terrestrial phenomena are made subject to influence by
> certain celestial configurations is to narrow the scope of astrology very
> extensively, dismissing most of the non-physical, acausal, analogical,
> cultural, symbolic constructs with which all astrologers work everyday.
I did not make that statement. As a definition it makes no sense whatever. That you understand what I wrote thus calls me to question my ability to make clear and accessible statements.
I gave your cite as the *fundamental theorem* of astrology. I'll amend that and assert that it is the *fundamental assumption* of astrology. In no way does that constitute a definition. In that regard, I have confined myself to the literal definition of the word.... the study of the stars. We can fudge that and say that astrology is the study of the celestial sphere, and I suppose we should, else we exclude the planets (planetos in Greek), as that would be planetology... whatever else we conclude, it is a study of (some aspect of) the heavenly bodies.
Perhaps you should make certain you know what I wrote before you criticize it.
> I suggest that the nature of the tools astrologers use and the way they are
> used must be the basis for a definition of what astrology is, instead of
> very subjective a priori prejudices or assumptions, such as pretending to
> explain astrology in physical terms and dismissing what astrologers do that
> contradicts this assumption.
You condemn astrology to remain limited to current practice, whatever that is defined to be. How sad for astrology! Are you declaring that modern astrologers know everything about astrology that is worth knowing and so are qualified to define it by their practice? Who, then, would you suggest is qualified to define current practice? Yourself? If so, then you certainly are much more knowledgeable of astrology than I.
I'm still asking questions.
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 13:12:16 EDT
Subject: a definition of astrology?
It's "something i do." Not good enough?
Rather than agreeing on the definition BEFORE thinking much about it, then issueing from that papal recommendations of "how to discuss" the newly redefined topic, could we not discuss first -- then find to our mutual and delighted surprise that we have come to agree? [If that is the case!]
I personally believe that astrology is an experience as definable as sexuality. That is to say, it is here and has vivid unexpected effects, but we can neither account for it or explain it away.
If this seems silly, you may be correct. On the other hand, i consider all of Platonic idealism silly.
Jane Axtell < A HREF="http://members.aol.com/candamea/" > Galactic Everything < /A >
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