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Platonic contra Aristotelian astrologies?

 
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lihin



Joined: 14 Dec 2009
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Location: Mount Kailash

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject: Platonic contra Aristotelian astrologies? Reply with quote

Good morning,

To start may i suggest an attempt to restrict this thread to Aristotelian and Platonic philosophies as underpinnings of astrologies, explicitly leaving out other schools, for example the important Stoic one? My impression to date is, if one does not exercise some self-discipline, the threads tend to unravel.

In Professor Harold Henry Joachim's English translation of Aristotle's On Generation and Corruption, Book I, Chapter 2, one finds:

Quote:
"Lack of experience diminishes our power of taking a comprehensive view of the admitted facts. Hence those who dwell in intimate association with nature and its phenomena grow more and more able to formulate, as the foundations of their theories, principles such as to admit of a wide and coherent development: while those whom devotion to abstract discussions has rendered unobservant of the facts are too ready to dogmatize on the basis of a few observations. The rival treatments of the subject now before us will serve to illustrate how great is the difference between a ‘scientific’ and a ‘dialectical’ method of inquiry. For, whereas the Platonists argue that there must be atomic magnitudes ‘because otherwise “The Triangle” will be more than one’, Democritus would appear to have been convinced by arguments appropriate to the subject, i.e. drawn from the science of nature."


In my ears this sounds rather familiar in an astrological context. Even quite modern astrologies seem to have many adherents of (Neo-)Platonism, for example the late Mr John Addey. The Aristotelian perspectives appear less frequently represented. For example, the phrase "those whom devotion to abstract discussions has rendered unobservant of the facts are too ready to dogmatize on the basis of a few observations" reminds me of many astrological books that base methods on a few deliberately selected, positively skewed examples, called 'anecdotal evidence'.

Best regards,

lihin
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Geoffrey



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Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How then would you define the Aristotelian principles in the works of, say, Klaudios Ptolemaios, who gave no examples or evidence at all for the astrological principles he expounded, and yet he is considered Aristotelian?

Geoffrey
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Mark
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Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lihin wrote:
Quote:
To start may i suggest an attempt to restrict this thread to Aristotelian and Platonic philosophies as underpinnings of astrologies, explicitly leaving out other schools, for example the important Stoic one? My impression to date is, if one does not exercise some self-discipline, the threads tend to unravel.


The problem is that ancient philosophy didn't fit into the neat hermetically sealed boxes you want to fit it into. For example, middle Platonism demonstrates Stoic influence. Astrologers were certainly even more eclectic. Thus the desire for intellectual purity is a misunderstanding of how actually people thought in the ancient world.

While Ptolemy shows an Aristotlean influence in his systematic approach and his organisation of signs and planets into qualities there are also clear Platonic and Stoic influences in the Tetrabiblos.

To quote Campion:
Quote:
The theoretical cosmic psychologies proposed by Plato, Aristotle and Zeno found their practical application in the work of Claudius Ptolemy, the last of the great astronomers of the classical world (Jones, 2010)


I recommend this article by Nicholas Campion:

Astronomy and Psyche in the Classical World: Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Ptolemy by Nicholas Campion, Ph.D. Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol 9, 2179-2186.

http://journalofcosmology.com/AncientAstronomy118.html

Mark
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lihin



Joined: 14 Dec 2009
Posts: 470
Location: Mount Kailash

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:34 pm    Post subject: Tetrabiblos Reply with quote

Good evening,

A pertinent question, Mr Geoffrey. Methinks Klaudios Ptolomaios did not intend the Tetrabiblos to be read stand-alone but as a supplement or complement to his Almagest. Nevertheless, many readers (including me Smile ) have sorely missed examples and their lack has led to many conflicting opinions being presented as 'Ptolemy's true astrological doctrine'.

Based on the Tetrabiblos alone, Ptolemy strikes me as an author with some Aristotelian philosophic underpinnings rather than Aristotelian through-and-through. In particular, Ptolemy's style is seldom 'dialectical', although a dialectic discourse seems to me the gist of Aristotle's way of communicating. Through the process of having ones mind attentively participate in the intricate chains of dialectic discourse, one 'tastes' Aristotle's philo-Sophia. This is valid as well for Plato's dialogues. Efforts to reduce Plato's and Aristotle's works to 'philosophic systems' miss something essential. Aristotle's approach was overall, methinks, more non-dualistic than that of Plato, his teacher.

Fortunately for us, there were enough people aware of the value to such works to preserve many of them by hand for some 2,000 years, in spite of occasional destruction and suppression by religious authorities. This patient work of safeguarding and copying is too, in my humble opinion, philo-Sophia.

Best regards,

lihin
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Geoffrey



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Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One legacy of Aristotle is that we separate and classify human knowledge into different disciplines, such as biology, ethics and astronomy. If Tetrabiblos is a discourse upon the discipline of astrology in the Aristolelian manner, it should not need the underpinning of another discipline for it to be understood. Almagest/astronomy is about the movements of the stars, Tetrabiblos/astrology is about the meaning of the stars.

If Tetrabiblos is not fully Aristotelian, and so compromised as a philosophical system in that it does not follow a recognised system of reasoning logic, what was it about Tetrabiblos that made it worth the patient hours spent repeatedly copying it out over the millennia?

Geoffrey
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lihin



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Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:27 pm    Post subject: 'Heathen' ancient Greek philosophy filtered Reply with quote

Good evening,

Thanks to Mr Mark for the link to an article by Nicholas Campion, Ph.D. that i have meanwhile read. To me it is, although interesting, over-generalised with a tendency to avoid even mention of the severe underlying incompatibilities between ancient Greek Heathen philosophies and Abrahamic monotheistic theologies. Symptomatic of efforts to gloss over such incompatibilities is the use of the generic word 'God' in this paper and elsewhere. It would be interesting to learn which ancient Greek word(s) were translated in this way in the paper.

A specific astrological illustration of the incompatibility might be called 'astrological diversity of religions', examples quoted from Klaudios Ptolomaios' Tetrabiblos, Book II, Section 3, translated by Professor Frank Robbins, bold emphasis added:

Quote:
"3. Of the Familiarities between Countries and the Triplicities and Stars.
...
Of the second quarter, which embraces the southern part of greater Asia, the other parts, including India, Ariana, Gedrosia, 28 Parthia, Media, Persia, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, which are situated in the south-east of the whole inhabited world, are, as we might presume, familiar to the south-eastern triangle, Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, and are governed by Venus and Saturn in oriental aspects. Therefore one would find that the natures of their inhabitants conform with the temperaments governed by such rulers; for they revere the star of Venus under the name of Isis, 29 and that of Saturn as Mithras Helios. Most of them, too, divine future events; and among them there exists the practice of consecrating the genital organs because of the aspect of the aforesaid stars, which is by nature generative. Further, they are ardent, concupiscent, and inclined to the pleasures of love; though the influence of Venus they are dancers and leapers and fond of adornment, and through that of Saturn luxurious livers. They carry out their relations with women 30 openly and not in secret, because of the planets' oriental aspect, but hold in detestation such relations with males.
...
Of the third quarter, which includes the northern part of Greater Asia, the other parts, embracing Hyrcania, Armenia, Matiana, Bactriana, Casperia, 67 Serica, Sauromatica, Oxiana, Sogdiana, and the regions in the north-east of the inhabited world, 34 are in familiarity with the north-eastern triangle, Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, and are, as might be expected, governed by Saturn and Jupiter in oriental aspect. Therefore the inhabitants of these lands worship Jupiter and Saturn, ... The remaining parts of this quarter, which lie close to the centre of the inhabited world, Bithynia, Phrygia, Colchica, Syria, Commagenę, Cappadocia, Lydia, Lycia, Cilicia, and Pamphylia, 35 since they are situated in the south-west of the quarter, have in addition familiarity with the south-western quarter, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, and their co‑rulers are Mars, Venus, and Mercury; therefore those who live in these countries generally worship Venus as the mother of the gods, calling her by various local names, and Mars as Adonis, 36 to whom again they give other names, and they celebrate in their honour certain mysteries accompanied by lamentations."


These might be rather surprising passages for some readers. In his introduction to his translation, Professor Robbins mentioned that a prior translator, Mr J. M. Ashmand, deliberately left out some 'offensive' text. Obviously, to the educated Heathen mind, the very notion of uniform supra-regional (viz. geographic regions) religion would have appeared to be a simple absurdity.

Referring to Mr Geoffrey's latest post, astronomy and astrology, Almagest and Tetrabiblos, seem to me two sides of one coin.

Best regards,

lihin
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Geoffrey



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Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:51 pm    Post subject: Re: 'Heathen' ancient Greek philosophy filtered Reply with quote

lihin wrote:
Almagest (astronomy) and Tetrabiblos, (astrology) seem to me two sides of one coin.


The vast majority of astronomers would vehemently disagree - and the fact that the surface of Venus is hot enough to melt lead and Mars is colder than the Antarctic South Pole is of no concern whatever to the vast majority of astrologers...

Mars was deemed to be hot because it is red. Is this an Aristotelian perspective? Or a Platonic perspective?

Geoffrey
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lihin



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Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:28 am    Post subject: Perceptible to unaided human senses Reply with quote

Good morning,

Many ancients astrologically delineated planets mythologically, some, ex. gr. Ptolemy, based on observable physical attributes like colour and on observed correlations, all in respect of unaided human senses. Of course modern astronomy includes much data derived from sources imperceptible to unaided human senses. Whilst discussing this, it may be worthwhile to mention that, in terms of consumption of natural resources, modern technical perception is far more demanding than ancient methods.

Aside from sense limitations, methinks the entire 'scientific' approach to seek to understand celestial bodies by their natural manifestations more 'Aristotelian' than 'Platonic'.

Until the 18th century astronomy was in a way subservient to astrology, providing the latter with data for interpretation. It seems that the 'servants' revolted against the 'masters' and took over their properties, powers and authorities. As one can glean from numerous 'popular' books by astronomers, these are far from immune to avid yearning for meaning.

Best regards,

lihin
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Geoffrey



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Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let us develop the theme of Mars the red planet. The Aristotelian approach might be to use the syllogism:

Objects which are heated to a very high temperature glow red in the dark. The planet Mars glows red in the dark. Therefore, Mars is a very hot planet.

Well, we now know that this logical statement falls down because Mars does not 'glow' at all, it is seen in the reflected light of the sun. The idea that planets are actually seen in the reflected light of the sun was certainly around in Ptolemy's day and was pretty obvious when looking at the phases of the Moon. So, the Aristotelian approach to the hot, dry properties of Mars falls down pretty quickly. And today, we know for a fact that Mars is not hot (though it is dry) but astrologers continue to use the myth that Mars is hot - which is to completely discount the Aristotelian approach.

I use the word myth deliberately as this echo's Lithin's statement

Quote:
Many ancients astrologically delineated planets mythologically, some, ex. gr. Ptolemy, based on observable physical attributes like colour and on observed correlations, all in respect of unaided human senses.


Once we start accepting that the myth is more important than the reality, we immediately find ourselves within the realms of Plato's 'Theory of Forms', which posits that the non-material abstract concept is a higher form of reality than the material world known to us through our senses.

I would propose that even in Ptolemy's day, the redness of Mars was being used as an alegory to point to the myth of Mars the fiery, red, warlike planet and this was actually a Platonic perspective. And continuing in the manner of modern day propositional logic, I propose that Prolemy's Tetrabiblos as a whole should be viewed in a Platonic perspective - certainly as used today by modern astrologers.

Geoffrey
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lihin



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Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:54 pm    Post subject: Four elements - four aggregate states? Reply with quote

Good afternoon,

Even if some scientific paradigms of some philosopher-scientists like Aristotle have been and will be replaced - science is falsifiable -, does this necessary invalidate their entire philosophies?

Contemporary science recognises four aggregate states of matter:

- plasma
- gaseous
- liquid
- solid.

Do these not resemble the four Aristotelian elements Fire, Air, Water, Earth?

Professor Percy Seymour, whose work apparently is oft ignored by his fellow astro-physicists and by astrologers, relies considerably on certain attributes of the plasma state in his theories.

A methinks significant item we have not yet discussed is the place of astrologies in the framework of the often violent controversies surrounding the Reformation and the Contra-Reformation amongst Christian Europeans. For example, Sig. Placido di Titi's writings (see parallel thread) are explicitly permeated with Contra-Reformational theological ideas. For example, he rejected not only Platonic philosophy but any geometrically deduced system of astrological house division.

The Austrian librarian and historian of astrology, Herr Wilhelm Knappich, 1880 - 1970, published a very useful paper Placido de Titi's Leben und Lehre (Life and Teaching) in 1935 that includes much about these matters.

Best regards,

lihin
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