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Whence astrology?
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Paul
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Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can I just remind everyone to be respectful to one another even when disagreeing with their views. I've read a few heated remarks here lately, some of which have been edited.
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Paul
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Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:16 am    Post subject: Re: Whence astrology? Reply with quote

waybread wrote:

Obviously some doctors are more skilled than others; but they do have professional means to weed out the incompetents.
...
Because just anybody or his uncle can claim to be an astrologer with no knowledge whatsoever, the professionals range from highly credible and accurate people, to ignorant fraudsters.

Would you want a doctor to perform brain surgery on you if she hadn't passed her medical school, internship, residency, and qualifying board exams? Neither would I.
..

I find nothing demeaning in the possibility of testing astrology's truth claims. If they can stand up to analysis, well good for astrology. If they cannot stand up to analysis, we need to do some soul-searching.

What are we afraid of?


Hi Waybread

Can you explain your analogy a bit more here? I'm curious why having received training or passing some qualifying board exam suggests anything whatsoever about the truth claims of astrology or their testing?

Would you rather a qualified astrologer (as dictated by the passing of some exam I presume) work with you rather than a non-qualified one to the same extent that the consequences would be somehow comparable to neurosurgery?

For me, the point isn't "what are we afraid of" and more "why would we bother?". Really if scientists are interested in examining the claims of astrology then they should. That doesn't somehow mean that unless they do so that our claims should be automatically taken as suspect or as false. I think, for most astrologers, the feeling is that scientists are not going to offer a fair account of astrology and its claims so why waste time jumping through hoops for no reason? Not everyone even agrees that astrology can be tested using the scientific method. You said earlier that "Horary astrology should lend itself perfectly to objective, external testing. Either the missing cat is located or it is not.
"
- but whilst it may be open to statistical analysis, it won't be open to scientific testing using the scientific method. I cannot imagine being able to have repeated experiments on a given horary and having double blind trials with it for example.

My attitude, and I suspect many would more or less agree, is to let scientists do whatever investigation they wish. But it would seem silly if we told people to ignore what they see for themselves just because someone with a PhD didn't give you the seal of approval yet.
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Nixx



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Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spock wrote:
Readers, whether using crystal balls, tarot cards or astrological charts, are expert at picking up clues in ways they're not at all aware of themselves, nor is the client. If astrology works as obviously and unequivocally as we think it does, five competent astrologers studying a detailed history of a given person should be able to come up with the same rectified time. But this sort of thing just doesn't happen, and it would be sensational news in astrological circles if it did. Objective evaluation, and research conducted with the expectation that it will be objectively evaluated, can lead to an astrology that works obviously and can objectively be demonstrated to do so.


We know many if not most Astrologers schemas and notions are delusions, this is evident in the use of different Zodiacs and House systems. But what else do we know? The minimal testing which has occurred in this field was mainly conducted many years ago and, if memory serves, assessed the abilities of a handful of Astrologers who at the time were embracing Rudhyar, Tyl et al ‘modernist’ conceptions. This 'modern' astrology was subsequently seen as naive, simplistic, even abusive by the emerging Psychological and various Neo Traditional schools of thought. The merits or lack of these late 70’s / early 80's schemata’s, albeit at times profoundly different, have not to my knowledge been even minimally assessed. It may be were this to happen both are found wanting, and from a Chronobiological perspective would likely be as they entertain teleological causalities largely unrelated to stellar realities.

How this can be tacked is a problem in that as far as I know the leading lights of the Psychological and Neo Traditionalist movement have not expressed any interest in objective evaluation and currently most Psychologists regarded Horoscopy as superstitious nonsense with little interest in testing, or funding to be able to do so, the various claims. So it may be bypassing the bulk of Astrology circa 2013, or post 1980, and studying Naturalistic phenomena in the light of current Psychological knowledge is the only option available for the serious investigator.
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spock



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Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Whence astrology? Reply with quote

waybread wrote:
spock wrote:
[ If astrology works as obviously as most astrologers think it does, it should be easy to objectively demonstrate that it does. But it isn't, and this is a source of surprise and even consternation for many astrologers. There are lots of ways to unconsciously fudge. Readers, whether using crystal balls, tarot cards or astrological charts, are expert at picking up clues in ways they're not at all aware of themselves, nor is the client. If astrology works as obviously and unequivocally as we think it does, five competent astrologers studying a detailed history of a given person should be able to come up with the same rectified time. But this sort of thing just doesn't happen, and it would be sensational news in astrological circles if it did. Objective evaluation, and research conducted with the expectation that it will be objectively evaluated, can lead to an astrology that works obviously and can objectively be demonstrated to do so.

Spock, I agree with what you wrote. Criticisms of astrology's (in)accuracy have been going on for 2000 years. The "rebuttal" is often that it is such a complicated topic (which it is) that it is difficult for the non-masters to get it right.

Yes, that's the normal rebuttal, and it's valid but only up to a point. If astrology is really too complicated to be tested how could those complexities have been discovered in the first place? I see two answers. 1) We don't have to test everything at once. We can test what each factor contributes to the whole. If we insist that the elements of the whole can't be individually evaluated we're simultaneously admitting that astrology couldn't have been discovered based on observation. Since the chart taken as a whole, or the transits, progressions, whatever taken as a whole never repeats, observation of undivided wholes cannot tell us what works and what doesn't. But if we allow that, for instance, Saturn conjunct, square or opposite natal Venus has occurred a number of times in any individual life, and a vast number of times if we consider multiple lives, it's quite reasonable to expect careful, rigorous observation to tell us what if anything that transit regularly contributes to the whole. We can, of course, test astrology as a whole by testing astrologers under carefully controlled conditions, but so far such tests have had equivocal results. Again, if astrology works as obviously and as unequivocally as most astrologers seem to think, such tests should have astrologers obviously and unequivocally coming up with the right answers.

2) I think much of the complexity of astrology is an illusion. Ask yourself what's the result of the multiplicity of factors and techniques, of the slipperiness of symbolism, and of the delineator supplying the wording for both symbolism and event, such that he or she can hardly fail to make them fit together? The result is an astrology that can predict virtually any event for virtually any time for virtually any chart. It's analogous to an ephemeris maker whose calculations are so open-ended that for a given date he can account for Mars being in any of 21,600 degree-minute locations. Since Mars will in fact be in one of those places his predictions will always be "right", but not usefully so if he can't tell us where Mars won't be, which is to say if he can't tell us the only place Mars will be.

Modern astrology and its predecessors are exactly equivalent to that imaginary ephemeris maker's dilemma, which is if you predict everything at once you haven't actually predicted anything at all. But as long as the ephemeris maker is able to remain unaware that he could explain Mars being anywhere at all, or manage to not see the implications of that fact, he'll be able to maintain the illusion that "ephemeris making works for me". Prediction means not just saying what will happen but also what won't happen. It means narrowing the possibilities to one or a few, something astrology in its present form is very poor at doing.

Michel Foucault in "The Confession of the Flesh" (In Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews & Other Writings 1972-1977) writes:"From around 1825 to 1830 one finds the local and perfectly explicit appearance of definite strategies for fixing the workers in the first heavy industries at their work-places....so that you get a coherent, rational strategy, but one for which it is no longer possible to identify a person who conceived it." I wonder if it was ever possible, even in principle, to identify such a person. I suggest that such a strategy need not be conceived at all but rather evolves into being. Natural selection works on variation, and at some location(s) a combination of practices must have co-occurred with desirable benefits from the viewpoint of the industrialist. Humans being really good at mimicking, that model would have spread.

I think astrology's multiplicity of factors, slipperiness of symbolism, etc. is similarly a "strategy" that evolved into being, with no specific originator and no awareness of astrologers that it even exists. They learn this "strategy" by exposure to paradigms, example delineations, in which we learn how to do something by example without being aware of the underlying factors involved in doing it. But the upshot, which I expect statistical testing to continue to confirm, is that most of astrology's factors and methods are bogus. I include in that category signs, houses and rulerships, progressions and directions, return charts, and symbolism itself, pretty much everything outside of aspects and transits. (You can account for an amazing variety of phenomena with only a few factors.) And I expect statistical studies, to the extent that we refrain from trusting them only when they tell us what we want to hear, will confirm this.

Quote:
Statistics, interestingly, would have some useful applications. A given technique doesn't expect that A has to correlate with B 100% of the time. Rather, A has to correlate with B at some pre-specified level, above random chance. With a big sample of charts, we might think we found something solid if a correlation between some astrological variables and verifiable life experience or character traits obtained, say, 75% of the time.

The problem with astrology is that we don't think statistically. Something in a cookbook is supposed to work consistently. If I get a chart reading, I'd like to think it is completely accurate, not at the level of 75%.

I expect that a valid technique, properly understood, would have A correlating with B 100% of the time. People misunderstand how statistics works. It enables us to tease out the effect of a single factor in a multiple-factor situation. The Mars effect is a perfect example. Mars in a plus zone, which I think more accurate data will show to be Mars in hard-angle aspect to the birthplace, gives the person who has it a better than average chance of achieving eminence in sports if he happens to be an athlete, but not much better than average because it's obviously not the only factor that affects eminence. If it was an athlete who had it would be eminent, and an athlete who didn't wouldn't. Clearly there are other factors that affect eminence, but we don't even need to know what they are. As long as we base our study only on where Mars is the other factors can be assumed to vary randomly.

Hence if an athlete scores high enough on the other factors which influence eminence he might be eminent despite not having Mars in the appropriate location. And if an athlete scores extremely low in almost all the other factors that influence eminence he might not be eminent despite having Mars in the appropriate location. The difference between a random distribution and the Mars distribution for eminent athletes is simply an indication of how big (not very big) a factor Mars is in determining eminence.

But that doesn't mean the Mars effect is weak. It simply means it doesn't correspond to eminence per se. We get closer to the effect of Mars per se if we ask, what traits does that person have? That was the basis for the Gauquelins' follow-up series of studies, and roughly speaking the Mars effect person is better at getting going and keeping going, at pushing himself to maximum effort when he's exhausted and others are dropping by the wayside, at working harder than others. Gauquelin called it iron will, I've been calling it unlaziness, which I suspect means pretty much the same thing. While our understanding of that trait is still imprecise enough to be confused with, say, the conscientiousness of Saturn conjunct or trine Venus, it comes closer to being something we should expect to coincide almost every time with the appropriate Mars location. The phrase "appropriate Mars location" suggests there are two things that we need to know more about to get a tighter correspondence, the precise nature of the effect itself, and the precise location of Mars that predicts it. Both are approximations at this time.

Quote:
I'm not up on the literature about statistical tests of astrology, but I would think the number of variables to be examined simultaneously would be huge. (10 or 7 planets x 12 signs x 12 houses x 5 or 6 major aspects x .....) It's no good, further, saying Venus in Scorpio means X, if X can be trumped by some other chart factor, like the moon in Sagittarius.

We would certainly need some sort of protocol in which chart variables could be rank-ordered by importance; which is where I think advice from professional astrologers as to how they operate, would be valuable. Then perhaps a researcher could develop a model based on their methods as to how the process actually works-- for them.

There's no need to examine all these variables simultaneously. That's precisely what statistical analysis frees us from having to do, by randomizing all of the variables save one, and thus makes it possible to determine what that variable considered by itself contributes to the whole.

Quote:
There is something more at work here, which is the subjective process taking place in the mind of the astrologer.

My own belief is that someday psychologists will know a lot more about psi abilities, and how divination methods plug into them.

I'd say that subjective process is the learned cogntive process I've described above and elsewhere via which the astrologer convinces herself that astrology, whatever its level of development or lack of same, "works for me". I think psi abilities play little if any role in divination methods, astrological or otherwise. I'd say it comes down more to the games people play, or in our case the games astrologers play. Divination is the appearance of magic, but in reality I don't think magical effects exist. I do think there's a lot more to astrological consultation, psychological consultation, any kind of consultation involving a knowledge base, than the knowledge base itself, and that this "lot more" involves abilities — reading the situation, reading between the lines, reading the client's body language, picking up on various clues — that are subtle and difficult to see, and ordinarily invisible to the consultant herself. But I also think that improving the knowledge base itself, even though it's far from the sole determinant of the consultational outcome, makes the consultant more effective.
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Article: After Symbolism


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Myriam Hildotter



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Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spock said:

Quote:
If we insist that the elements of the whole can't be individually evaluated we're simultaneously admitting that astrology couldn't have been discovered based on observation.


Exactly! I agree that astrology could not have been discovered based on observation! That has been part of my point all along. I would imagine Varuna would agree with me on this. This is why I see applied astrology as a traditional science, not a modern one.

There are just things that make no sense if we believe astrology was "discovered" by observation of the natural world in the manner of modern science. For example, it is clear that the Ancients had extensive knowledge about the precession of the equinoxes. It is clear from all of the religious symbolism that marked the changing of the "Ages." There is plenty of it in the Judeo-Christian written tradition alone! If the Ancients were superstitious, primitive people, how could they measure (by observation) a 26,000 year cycle? How could they measure it in any case, without the technology that we have?

I am trying not to repeat myself, because it really does not do much good in any case, but as I said before, in the Ancient World, applied astrology was the lowest application of the high knowledge of cosmology. Astrology/Astronomy/Cosmology were studied to understand the workings of the world of the Divine and to be in harmony with the Law of the Divine.

One of the misconceptions about Ancient Astrology is that individual horoscope techniques were "discovered" around the time of the Chaldeans. In the Ancient World, astrology was used by Temples to time religious festivals and for ruling Monarchs in the governance of their kingdoms. There was little use for common people to have horoscopes read for them, because they were under the instruction of their families, their priests, and their rulers. Individual horoscopes were the democratization of this discipline.

I have read that this was the case in China. The Chinese zodiac we know of is the astrology for commoners. There was another astrology that was used by the monarchs and temples. I have heard that this was lost after the Communist takeover. I am sure that if it has been retained, the secrets are guarded in Temples, and they are not for the uninitiated.

I believe that cosmology/astrology is revealed knowledge from the Divine that has been passed on in a very broken form over the generations. While I do believe that observation has and does play a role in applied astrology, particularly in the late Iron Age. Observation, however, is secondary to the craft, not primary.

When I say that astrology is revealed knowledge, we must understand that not everything in astrology is of the order of Divine revealed knowledge. There are levels and levels to astrological knowledge.

High knowledge would be that Mars is the planetary representative for the Divine Aspect of Protection, Will (and Free Will), and the Conflict between Good and Evil. In his lower form, Mars is the ruler of conflict in general. Of similar high knowledge would be that Venus is the planetary representative for the Divine Aspect of Love, in all of its forms. (The association has gotten watered down in astrology to mean romantic or physical love, but really Venus represents all forms of love).

Also, of high knowledge would be that a square is an aspect of conflict, as it is the aspect associated with the number 4, which is the number of manifestation and conflict. In the study of metaphysics, numbers existed before there were things to be numbered. Mathematics is also/or can also be a spiritual discipline containing much in the way of deep metaphysical and spiritual Truth. Sadly, modern education has watered mathematics to utilitarian purposes as well.

Of a lower order of knowledge, we can say that Mars square Venus, would indicate tension between love and war. Lower still would be that Mars has an orb of 7 degrees with moiety of 3.5 degrees, or that we should not use degrees, but whole signs to measure the aspect.

The lowest form of this knowledge would be predicting that one's husband will be sent off to war based on this aspect. From this perspective measuring astrology from the ability of astrologers to predict, would be trying to prove higher forms of knowledge from lower applications of said knowledge. I am happy to measure individual techniques and the ability of astrologers from "testing;" however, one can not prove high knowledge from studying lower forms.

Interestingly enough, the higher the knowledge, the more agreement that there is among varied sources. There is little disagreement as to the meaning of Mars. The meaning of Venus (and Mercury, for that matter) has been greatly watered down over the ages; however, the essential meaning remains the same.

I would say a lot more, but I expect that this is a large piece to chew upon for those who have a different view of these things.
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spock



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Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(to continue)

Myriam Hildotter wrote:
A traditional science is one that starts from metaphysical principles. These metaphysical principles have been passed on to us through tradition. For these purposes, I am defining tradition as what has been passed down to us from our ancestors. The science part of traditional science is the application of the metaphysical principles to the physical world. Tradition itself tells us that the physical world is one of flux and change. One of the changes is our consolidation into matter through the gunas or Ages of time.

The problem with using metaphysical principles rather than empiricism as a starting point is that agreement with the former can only be arbitrary. Presumably two sets of eyes see the same thing when they look at the same object, but if we start with something other than observables anyone can say anything he or she wants to. There's no way to determine which utterances are right and which wrong.

Quote:
I think that astrology holds up *very* well as a traditional science; much, much better than as a modern science. Astrology *works* because the planets are physical representations of higher metaphysical principles. There may also be physical "causes" that we find, such as the Moon's influence over the tides and our hormones; however, these are co-existent with the metaphysical explanation, they do not replace that explanation.

Since it has never existed as a modern science there's not much basis for comparison. But if you consider other knowledges, including astronomy, with which astrology was inseparably linked for almost 2000 years, it looks better for modern science. We no longer believe that the earth is at the center of the cosmos. We no longer believe that the cosmos itself is as tiny and bounded as our distant precedessors had it. Unless you believe that the cosmos is tiny and bounded, with the earth at the center, I'm not sure how you could fail to acknowledge that modern astronomers are right and their ancient predecessors wrong, that modern astronomers know a lot more about the cosmos than they did. Yet traditionalists appear to believe that with astrology, a more subtle and difficult kind of knowledge than astronomy, our ancient predecessors knew more than we do. I don't see how that makes sense.

Quote:
As I said before, Platonic/Traditional thought is very much aware of the physical world as the place of flux and change. Actually, it is *more* aware of it than modern science is, which thinks that it can extrapolate information about the past using information obtained in the present. I do not know *why* this is so, even on its own terms.

I don't know that it's so, other than you just saying it is. Much of the information obtained in the present is of processes we have no reason to believe differed in the past. Was rain rainier or the sun sunnier in the past than in the present? Does water erode rock differently than it used to? But scientists don't in fact exclude information from the past. Historical references to "a year without a summer" are closely examined and compared to other findings, for instance deep soil samples or ice cores, to suss out past catastrophes. The difference is, they take the earlier writers' words as evidence that something happened, but they don't necessarily accept at face value those wroters' explanations of what happened.

Quote:
Modern science has learned, for example, that the Newtonian laws of physics only "work" at the size and speed that we experience the world in. Things get very strange at the size of galaxies and atoms or at the speed of light! The more modern science learns about the physical world, the more questions come up.

I'm not quite sure what your point is here. The less we know the less we realize how little we know. The more we know the more we're aware of how much we don't know. It didn't occur to Newton, or to any of his contemporaries, to explain motion near the speed of light. Therefore his theory did not need to take that into account. When it did occur to Einstein he found that Newton's theory didn't cover the full range of phenomena and was therefore wrong. Someday Einstein's theory of General Relativity will be found to be wrong. That doesn't mean science is lacking. It means it continually supplants earlier understandings with newer ones that have greater scope and accuracy.

Quote:
My main quibble with the modern scientific approach is one of priority! I would START with a proper education in Traditional metaphysics. Modern science has thrown out and dismissed the study of Traditional metaphysics, for no good reason other than what later philosophers have said! Just because one *starts* with an understanding of metaphysics does not mean that the education ends there. Then, by experimentation and trial and error, we see how these principles find application to the physical world.

I would start with what we think we know based on empirical evidence. I would supplement that with what our predecesors have believed, whether as a history or history of science course, but I wouldn't privilege what our predecessors have believed when modern knowledge, which has eventuated in artifacts and powers those ancient predecessors would have found miraculous, is so obviously vastly superior to what the ancients knew. I take seriously Newton's dictum, which actually descends from Bernard of Chartres: "If I have seen further it has been by standing on the shoulders of giants." I like to think sometimes that if I had started at the same point I might have had some of the same insights and reached the same conclusions as Grant Lewi, whose reasoning and general approach I find so congenial. However, I didn't have to start where he started and cover the same ground. I was able to start where he left off. This is the ratchet effect, by which homo sapiens has ascended to such amazing heights. More than any other species we're able to mimic what we see others doing perfectly enough that we don't slip back from and lose it, and are then able to use that as a jumping-off point from which to go even further.

Quote:
I will take a major point of contention between "Traditional" astrologers and "Modern" astrologers...the Outer Planets. I would hold that the Traditional rulerships of the planets to the signs are in the nature of metaphysical principle. This is something that has been passed down to us. We don't necessarily understand all of why these things are so, but Tradition is largely consistent on these matters. The meanings of the planetary principles are also a matter of solid Tradition. Interestingly enough, the Gauquelin research is largely consistent with the traditional meanings of the planetary principles, even if it is inconsistent with some of the techniques astrologers use. (By the way, that is one of the differences between a modern scientific approach in contrast to a traditional one....the data from the experiment does not *justify* the traditional understanding, but it is interesting, nonetheless).

That rulerships exist at all is what somebody thought up at some point. It might have seemed reasonable at the time, just as it seemed reasonable that the sun goes around the earth. That doesn't mean it's true, and I personally doubt that it is. The meanings we associate with Saturn, Jupiter et al have arguably evolved over time via a process of natural selection, hence it's not surprising that we recognize something of them in the Gauquelin results or in Vygotsky's descriptions of the changes the child goes through at age 7 or at the turn to age 3. But scattered words like conscientious and sober for Saturn, or expansive and "Jovial" for Jupiter, are one-dimensional and a pale reflection of the more three-dimensional descriptions that can be gotten from Gauquelin and especially Vygotsky. Nonetheless, those bits and pieces of meaning aren't irrelevant or trivial but show how astrological knowledge has evolved, and are arguably a jumping-off point for a more rigorous empirical astrology.

Quote:
With the "discovery" of the Outer Planets, there are two questions...do they rule anything and do they have meaning. In the Traditional/Platonic approach, no, they do not and can not rule any signs. Rulership of signs is a matter of metaphysical principle. The discovery of the Outer Planets means that the solar system is not an exact replica of the metaphysical Cosmos, but that is not a problem for Platonic thought the way it is for Aristotelian thought.

The discovery of the outer planets means there's stuff the ancients didn't know that we know, which I've already suggested above. But if rulership of signs is a metaphysical principle, I can only say that principle is flat wrong due to having been founded on inadequate means.

Quote:
Whether they have meaning is a separate question, and it is perfectly right and proper to use testing and research to determine this. In my own experience, and in my study of both modern and traditional astrology, I think that they reflect the lower psychic (and perhaps even demonic) realms. I think that if they are used, they are supplements to, not replacements for, a thorough study of the seven traditional planets!

That is an interesting question. I don't for instance assume that Pluto has an effect, even though it would be interesting if it did since it squares my Sun. Basically, since I think human periodicities that correspond to planetary periodicities are due to life having used planets as temporal templates around which to organize its constituent processes, the question for me is, what has evolution wrought? Which heavenly bodies has life been able to track, even if only at one point in each's orbit, and thus use as a basis for a biological clock? And I think you're right, we need to use testing and research to determine this, first by determining if an "effect" exists, by looking for matching rhythms, and eventually by determining the physical basis (the effect of blue wavelength sunlight on opsins in the eye, for instance) by which it exists.

Quote:
With respect to "new" techniques, I think that there is a very high burden of proof, though. As most modern people, including astrologers, have lost an understanding of Traditional metaphysics, I think that a new technique is on inherently shaky ground. I think that true empirical evidence is quite difficult to obtain in astrology, so we may discover a correlation, but it is tricky to determine whether it is a causal or a co-existent correlation. I think that something just appearing to "work" is not enough to adopt it.

I do not completely rule them out, I just find them highly suspect!

I would tend to put the same burden of proof on all techniques, new or old, although I might tend to make that burden slightly greater for capital "T" Traditional ideas since they're so often so apodictic. I agree it's nonobvious if something is causal or co-existent but I think there are ways to sort that out. The ratchet effect in human evolution concerns not only additions to our "storehouse of knowledge" but also improvements in our ways of knowing. Astrologers might with profit study Francis Bacon's four idols, which concern the various ways in which we fool ourselves. I don't think we quite appreciate how readily and how often that happens.
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Article: After Symbolism


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Myriam Hildotter



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Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spock, I do appreciate your views, but we are starting to get to the place I think that we both are just going to keep repeating ourselves.

There is one piece to what you said, though, that I would like to clarify:

Quote:
We no longer believe that the earth is at the center of the cosmos. We no longer believe that the cosmos itself is as tiny and bounded as our distant precedessors had it. Unless you believe that the cosmos is tiny and bounded, with the earth at the center, I'm not sure how you could fail to acknowledge that modern astronomers are right and their ancient predecessors wrong, that modern astronomers know a lot more about the cosmos than they did.


Neither did the Ancients, at least not until Aristotle. The Traditional Model of the Cosmos is NOT a model of the physical solar system. The "Earth" (or the sublunary plane) is not the physical planet we live on. The "Earth" is ALL of physical existence. Everything in our physical solar system AND every other solar system AND galaxies light years away are the "Earth" in the Traditional Model of the Cosmos.

The solar system LOOKS like the Cosmos, because it is a microcosm of the Cosmos, as are human beings. It is modern science that has shrunk the study of the Cosmos to the study of the "Earth" or the Sublunary Plane.

Now, Aristotle would agree the entire physical solar system (and manifest Universe) was part of the "Earth" or the Sublunary Plane. Aristotle was NOT a substantialist; although his teachings got the substantialist ball rolling in the West, as it were.

What Aristotle taught was that the solar system was an EXACT replica of the Cosmos, and that one could study the Cosmos directly through a study of the Solar System. This was a new idea, and not a part of Traditional/Platonic thought. Later, William of Ockham taught that the Cosmos itself was limited to the sublunary plane, which is where modern science is today.

There is not any empirical "proof" for William of Ockham's teaching that the psychical, sublunary plane is all that exists; yet, this has been accepted without question in the modern world.

Of course, there are valid reasons to limit one's study to the material world, just as there are valid reasons to study plane geometry. On the other hand, it is NOT valid to limit one's study to plane geometry and then claim one has proven that the 3rd dimension does not exist or to demand direct proof of the third dimension using ONLY plane geometry.

It is also not quite accurate that the "Earth" was the center of the Traditional Model of the Cosmos. Actually, there are several places that could be considered the Center, depending on perspective. The absolute Center would be the Highest Heaven, which is Eternal, and beyond the world of flux and change altogether. In one sense, the "Earth" or physicality is the Center, as this is where humans as Axial Beings engage in the "play" of this life. Below the sublunary plane are the lower psychic and the demonic realms. Above the sublunary plane are the Heavenly or Cosmic Realms. From still another perspective, the Solar Plane is the Center, and is between the Internal and the External Planes.

Forgive me for not responding to the rest of what you say, but until there is an understanding of this concept (you don't have to agree with it, just understand it), it is difficult to communicate.


Last edited by Myriam Hildotter on Sat Nov 02, 2013 3:03 am; edited 2 times in total
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Myriam Hildotter



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Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh dear, I thought I was not going to say more, but I think that this is an important addendum.

I will, of course, concede that we likely know much more about the natural, physical world than the Ancients. The Ancients were much less interested in the physical world than we are though. In some ways, it was helpful that Aristotle taught that one could study the Cosmos and the Higher Realms through a study of the natural world, because then people had more interest in the physical world.

The downside was that we lost an understanding of the much, much larger Cosmos in the process.
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waybread



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Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spock-- et al.

Really I think we are dealing with different concepts of what astrology is, could become, or should become. If we see astrology as a metaphysical field similar to theology, then there isn't much point in applying statistical tests to it.

I fear that I am only talking to myself (it often happens) when I suggest that the divide isn't or doesn't have to be science vs. metaphysics. If we are interested in testing astrology's truth claims, we first have to learn (and not decide top-down) what sort of creature astrology really is. Can we agree to see it as embracing different paradigms?

I have no problem with seeming contradictions in astrology's make-up, because of my aforementioned examples of fields like anthropology and geography that span the gamut from science to the humanities. We could throw in additional disciplines that are specifically interdisciplinary (American studies, science studies, environmental law) that are internally unified by a particular thematic focus, but not by a mutually shared methodology. I think astrology is much more akin to such fields than it is to social science statistics on its own.

I don't think isolating single horoscope variables and subjecting them to statistical tests will yield much more support for astrology than the studies of the past. (Spock, we can agree to disagree on the Gauquelins' study assumptions and methods.) The reason is primarily because, although you will find single-variable descriptions in astrology cookbooks, this isn't the way an astrologer would actually go about reading a chart.

Chart-reading is a work of synthesis. Even if you want to ask, "Will this newborn child become a great athlete?" You've got to work with a whole lot more than just Mars in the 9th house (equivalent Gauqeulin sector.) For one thing, we don't know how many people with Mars in the 9th never go on to become athletes. We don't know why some people with Mars in the Gauquelin power zone go on to join the merchant marine or study philosophy. For a proposition to be scientifically valid, it needs to have predictive power, not merely descriptive verisimilitude.

I also don't see the point in isolating single variables if it might be the case that clusters of variables have more explanatory power.

I think it would be most helpful to start with some qualitative open-ended interviews with professional astrologers, from which some more clearly defined propositions could emerge. It might be really valuable to model how a professional astrologer reads a horoscope, so that more sophisticated tests could copy that process. Otherwise you could get really inapt tests.

Research into astrology's truth claims shouldn't become a Procrustean Bed, in which the astrology that is stretched or trimmed to fit, loses its basic character in order to meet the criteria of an externally imposed research design.

Incidentally, I don't mean psi abilities in any woo-woo sort of way. Let's start with the basic epistemology of the bases and source of knowledge. How do you know what you know? The extraordinary science described by Thomas Kuhn dealt with scientsts' intuition and hunches that paid off.

Manilius in the 1st century AD argued that humans were part of the larger cosmos, and it was humanities' share in the cosmos that enabled human understanding of the heavens. We could understand the heavens because we weren't fundamentally separated from them. Today we might call this holism or perhaps systems theory.

Paul, I don't understand your question. Obviously a doctor passing board exams doesn't explain anything about astrology's truth-claims.
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Paul
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Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:

Paul, I don't understand your question. Obviously a doctor passing board exams doesn't explain anything about astrology's truth-claims.


No, but my point didn't suggest it did. You asked if you'd want an unqualified brain surgeon to perform on your brain and followed this rhetoric up with:

Quote:
I find nothing demeaning in the possibility of testing astrology's truth claims. If they can stand up to analysis, well good for astrology. If they cannot stand up to analysis, we need to do some soul-searching.


But I'm not sure why having a qualification or not, or even the issue of qualification in any way relates with the idea of testing astrology's truth claims. In what sense does having a qualification or not relate to the idea of testing truth claims?

I'm unsure what point you're trying to make with your brain surgery analogy - obviously nobody wants an untrained brain surgeon performing surgery on you, but how does this metaphor relate to our astrology examples?

Yes anyone can call themselves an astrologer, yes there are exams and qualificaitons one can take if they wish to, but unlike with brain surgery there is no reason why any astrologer might need to take those qualifications. If you do not take the brain surgery ones you cannot be a brain surgeon. If you do not pass the exams etc. for architecture you cannot be an architect. These fields are licensed. Astrology is not. Therefore whether one can call themselves an astrology with zero training might be frustrating for some but it doesn't tell us anything at all about astrological truth claims and in addition very proficient astrologers can operate with recourse to support from the passing of an exam.

I hope this makes more sense. I'm not sure exactly where you're going with the brain surgery analogy unless to imply that having a more consistent and streamlined educational background in astrology would help toward testing its claims? I'm trying to put the two together.
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waybread



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Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul, my comment about brain surgeons was specifically focused on Myriam's statement,

Quote:
On the other hand, I think that "tests" to prove astrology is viable as a craft are not only demeaning, they also create an expectation of astrologers that is much higher than we expect of other professionals. Now, lay people may still have these expectations, but it is up to us as astrologers to educate them as to what astrology can do and what it can not! Lay people have these expectations of other professionals as well. I have some friends who are medical doctors that have related amusing stories of patients calling them on the telephone, saying something like "I don't feel well," and expecting the doctor to guess what was wrong with them from that information alone.

While an astrologer actually has a better chance of guessing than a doctor in these instances (as she could cast a chart for the time of the call), these are rather unreasonable expectations!


My point is that, if doctors are a comparable with astrologers, as Myriam suggests, then we should consider that doctors do get tested-- extensively-- and nobody finds their tests demeaning. Rather, we find it entirely reasonable that doctors should pass medical school courses, internships, usually residencies, and board licensing exams as a matter of safeguarding patients' health.

The testing applied to doctors as a condition of their ability to practice, as well as the testing that goes into pharmaceuticals, &c are extensive and far higher than the non-existent tests required of astrologers.

Of course, medical treatment has an indirect basis of a lot more testing than whether or not a doctor is licensed. Drugs, protheses, dietary restrictions and the like all undergo testing procedures. I find nothing "demeaning" about these, either.

Moreover, All kinds of professions, ranging from clinical psychology to accounting require credentials from their states/provinces/ professional associations.

An astrologer can decide if what is "sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose." Major astrological professional societies have tried to credentialize astrology; whereas many independent astrologers (like you, apparently) say not, at least not for themselves.

This is all by way of response to Myriam's statements.

My comments about my not having a problem with testing astrology's truth claims refer to Spock's interest in scientific tests of astrological assertions.

One hopes that a better, more accurate astrology would emerge. My main point of discussion with Spock is what types of studies would actually yield useful results.
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spock



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Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Whence astrology? Reply with quote

Paul wrote:

Right, but all this shows is that astrologers correlate certain time periods with planetary transits - and that these periods affect us as a race. This is really only a tiny snippet of the kind of predictions that psychological astrologers might make which is more usually nuanced and personal. What we have here isn't proof of psychological astrologer's claims with regards predictions, what this is instead is a correlation noticed between a general behavioural pattern common to all people and a planetary transit etc which coincides with it.

Yes, the transitions I talked about coincide with age transits, which is that part of astrology that is most strongly validated, even clarified, by disciplines that overlap it, in this instance cognitive developmental psychology. But is this really "a more general behavioural pattern common to all people and a planetary transit etc. which corresponds with it" than other transits? After all, Saturn also transits conjunct, square or opposite the Nonagesimal or conjunct, square or opposite Mars for everyone, too, just not at the same ages for everyone as is the case with age transits. Do you really think non-age transits are different from age transits with regards to general behavioural patterns? See below with regards to "psychological astrologers' claims."

Quote:
Of course I do believe that the Saturn return does correlate with psychological changes etc. but I do not see this as proof with regards the claims of astrologers citing psychological prediction. Remember, my point was that there's similarly no proof for the claims of psychological astrologers as there is event-oriented ones. The claims of psychological astrologers include such things as noting when something like Pluto transits a planet or point like the Moon or the ascendant. Or that a secondary progression may indicate some psychological development or change as dictated by the nature of the planets. So we do not have any proof for the claims of psychological astrological prediction - but that's okay, it's in good company with pretty much the rest of the claims by astrologers.

I don't recall saying anything about "psychological astrologers' claims" but if i gave that impression I'd like to take the opportunity here to correct it. When I say astrology is psychological I don't necessarily mean it's psychological in the ways that psychological astrologers have claimed. For one thing I don't accept the validity of secondary progressions. For another you're not likely to find me making any claims about the effects of Pluto transits. I'm not even sure Pluto has any effects, although I'm not sure it doesn't, either. I'm acutely aware of what I don't know and try to refrain from making claims about what certain transits do unless I have some basis for making those claims.

More to the point I disagree with some of psychological astrologers' characteristic positions almost as much as I do with those of event-oriented astrologers. I think the two approaches err in complementary ways based on the same wrong idea of how astrology works. Event-oriented astrologers believe astrology predicts concrete external events and are resistant to or even contemptuous of psychological interpretations. At least some psychological astrologers are aware of the hit or miss quality of astrological prediction and deny that prediction is possible at all. Some of them also notice, I think, that for any given transit there is no single event that is predictably "the" thing that coincides with it, that there are many kinds of events that have coincided with a given transit so how do we know in advance which one to predict?

But psychological astrologers like event-oriented astrologers associate prediction with external event prediction, and those who see problems with that reject prediction altogether. But I find the rejection of prediction altogether just as untenable as the assumption that it can only concern concrete external events. For me the question isn't if astrology predicts but what it predicts, and the answer as I've already suggested is the motivations underlying events. Another thing some psychological astrologers have noticed is that not every transit (or progression, or whatever) coincides with an (external) event, which is obviously true, but I suggest that while not every transit coincides with an external event it does coincide with an internal one, its characteristic motivation, whether or not it leads to an event. A big issue for me is consistency. If a configuration has a meaning or effect it should have it every time, not just some of the time. (Otherwise we would need another method to tell us when that method will have a meaning or effect.) That's one of the reasons I decided that astrology must predict internal states, not external outcomes, because on the basis of the latter it works sometimes and sometimes it doesn't.

Quote:
Quote:
If, as I contend, there's a blind spot here inculcated by astrological training, it's no surprise that astrologers regularly say they don't see it, yet inferring its existence explains a lot that's otherwise inexplicable. If astrology works as obviously as most astrologers think it does, it should be easy to objectively demonstrate that it does.

Wait a second, you're juxtaposing my point against something else. My point was in contradiction to your view that astrologers learn not to predict - my examples being that having only been to two professional astrologers, one modern and one traditional, I can conclude that both predicted. I am not making claims for their being able to demonstrate that their predictions were accurate or inaccurate. Just that they did make predictions, both of them - and for what it's worth both predicted physical changes as well as psychological ones.

This is stark contrast to your idea that astrologers learn not to predict or only predict in general terms. In both cases, both astrologers predicted very specific things.

I can see why you think I'm pulling a switcharoo, but that wasn't my intention and I think not really the case. You now say that I said astrologers learn not to predict, and that you provided two examples that contradicted that assertion. Your examples would have been counterexamples, however, only if I had added that, therefore, due to having learned not to, astrologers never do predict. But in fact, as you correctly quoted me in your earlier post, I immediately followed the statement that astrologers "learn to avoid prediction and instead explain what's already happened under the (mistaken) assumption that what's explainable after the fact would have been uniquely predictable before the fact" with a sentence beginning, "Or if they do predict..." So I didn't say or even imply that astrologers never predict.

What I was trying to suggest is that, via exposure to paradigms we learn, without being fully aware of what we've learned, in astrology as in everything else, including science, various tactics, including necessary blind spots, that enable us to more readily experience what we've learned as being true, and I tried to enumerate some of the tactics and blind spots that I think astrological neophytes learn. When I came to astrology I expected, as I suspect many neophytes expect, to learn how to predict and that such predictions would be more or less straightforward equivalences of the general pattern (configuration) A predicts (outcome) B, C predicts D, and so forth. But astrology has few such equivalences. How many instances can we point to in which a given configuration consistently and obviously coincides with a certain specific outcome? I'd say damned few.

Part of what our exposure to paradigms teaches us is how to finesse this situation, and one of the ways in which we do so is by explaining past events and experiencing that as tantamount to prediction, as what astrology would have been able to do if it had been applied before rather than after the fact. Do we really expect, prior to astrological training, to spend a relatively large amount of time explaining rather than predicting events? And when we do predict we often predict in vague, general terms that a lot of events will fit. I could also have said, and believe I did indicate in another post, that there are lots of clues the person doing the predicting can pick up on, and I think this accounts for the overwhelming majority of instances in which the astrologer appears to have nailed it with a very specific and accurate prediction.

To return to your specific protest — "Wait a second, you're juxtaposing my point against something else." — I saw your overall response as an exemplification of the kind of blind spot, an unawareness of some of the ways in which we convince ourselves astrology is working, that I've been talking about. Granted, I may have left out some of the connecting dots, for which I apologize. (In my defense I'm a slow, deliberate thinker and writer, am arguing a from a nonconventional and intellectually demanding point of view, and am trying to keep up with a lot of thoughtful, interesting responses.) It might also be uncharitable of me to attribute to you a blind spot, but since my argument partly depends on it I'm not sure what the alternative is. I also see, having just now reviewed my earlier post again, that the "another post" in which I referred to "lots of clues" was actually the one you replied to. The part you quoted above, which ends with "objectively demonstrate that it does", continues with, "But it isn't, and this is a source of surprise and even consternation for many astrologers. There are lots of ways to unconsciously fudge." [emphasis added] Again, if I didn't sufficiently connect the dots to make clear what I was responding to, I apologize and will connect them now. You said, " This is stark contrast to your idea that astrologers learn not to predict or only predict in general terms. In both cases, both astrologers predicted very specific things." To which I say/said, "There are lots of ways to unconsciously fudge. Readers, whether using crystal balls, tarot cards or astrological charts, are expert at picking up clues in ways they're not at all aware of themselves, nor is the client."

I remember well the time I went to a psychic right after my wife had left me. She intoned, "I see a separation, a wall between you and a loved one one. Has something happened recently?" I was blown away. But later, as I was walking home, a thought intruded. No doubt a lot of people go to psychics in times of stress, for roughly similar reasons, a loss or separation. No doubt she wasn't oblivious to the redness of my cheeks and the haunted look in my eyes. I don't assume that she was cynically exploiting my gullibility, although it's possible. But consciously or not the clues were there for her to see, and her prediction was actually a pretty safe one. I think astrologers do much the same thing, and in this instance I'm pretty sure it's not conscious and entirely sincere. I say this both from the standpoint of having been a "perpetrator" and from over forty years experience of reading or hearing what what astrologers have said and occasionally seeing them in action.

Now I wasn't a fly on the wall at either of the consultations you cited. I can't say for sure what did or didn't happen. What I can say is that astrologers like to cite instances in which they or an astrologer they went to made specific, highly accurate predictions, yet as obvious and clearcut as astrological knowledge and practice appears to be in such instances, when it's tested in circumstances in which there's no possibility of fudging, unconsciously or otherwise, the demonstration of astrology's validity, never mind its obvious validity, becomes maddeningly elusive. The impetus of my critique of astrology-as-is, and my attempts to help create something better, is trying to make sense of such contradictions, including the problem with rectification I've mentioned elsewhere.
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james_m



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Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi spock,

i liked your nov 2 905pm post.. i agreed with a lot of what you had to say in it without giving the details.

staying on top of this thread has been a challenge for me. i have been doing other things and might be missing some of the flow as a consequence..

hi myriam,

i don't agree with most of your position of most everything.. i am trying to figure out why that is.. something about 'the ancients did this or perceived it this way while people today are really backward cause they can't know what the ancients did' drives me off the deep end essentially.. where do you get this? from a book, teacher, your dreams,- where? your ideological position seems fixed and rigid.. i am curious to know how you've gotten to your position on the ancients, or the TRADITION, verses everything else today that is so sub par according to you..

regarding the first comment below that you and spock apparently agree on - i see it differently.. a lot of my way of seeing astrology is indeed based on observation.. while i think it is very difficult to separate the moving parts that make up astrology, i am still receptive to someone trying, whether it be the french couple from the 70's or whoever.. once again i see the words 'traditional' and 'modern' more often then not in your commentary.. no surprise i suppose as it seems to be the basis for so much of your personal ideology!

Myriam Hildotter wrote:
Spock said:

Quote:
If we insist that the elements of the whole can't be individually evaluated we're simultaneously admitting that astrology couldn't have been discovered based on observation.


Exactly! I agree that astrology could not have been discovered based on observation! That has been part of my point all along. I would imagine Varuna would agree with me on this. This is why I see applied astrology as a traditional science, not a modern one.



Myriam Hildotter wrote:

I am trying not to repeat myself, because it really does not do much good in any case, but as I said before, in the Ancient World, applied astrology was the lowest application of the high knowledge of cosmology. Astrology/Astronomy/Cosmology were studied to understand the workings of the world of the Divine and to be in harmony with the Law of the Divine.


i am curious if it could work in either direction for you or can it only be seen in one direction? what about the idea that an appreciation and understanding of the divine, or to be in harmony with the LAW required a much deeper appreciation of the material world, or that the material world was an attempt on the part of the ANCIENTS to reach out in a growth spurt to a richer and in fact deeper more divine form of expression taking on another layer, for lack of a better word which i refer to as the material world? for me, those who are unable to embrace all of what life is on all levels are really unlikely to be able to embrace much of any divinity.. maybe i need to put that all in cap letters too- DIVINITY- lol.. there, it ''looks'' better...


Myriam Hildotter wrote:

One of the misconceptions about Ancient Astrology is that individual horoscope techniques were "discovered" around the time of the Chaldeans. In the Ancient World, astrology was used by Temples to time religious festivals and for ruling Monarchs in the governance of their kingdoms. There was little use for common people to have horoscopes read for them, because they were under the instruction of their families, their priests, and their rulers. Individual horoscopes were the democratization of this discipline.

I have read that this was the case in China. The Chinese zodiac we know of is the astrology for commoners. There was another astrology that was used by the monarchs and temples. I have heard that this was lost after the Communist takeover. I am sure that if it has been retained, the secrets are guarded in Temples, and they are not for the uninitiated.


i love the use of that word 'uninitiated'.. it can be used in lots of places to pull the wool over plenty of folks eyes.. you might enjoy reading nic campions book - just out 'astrology and cosmology in the world's religions'.. 2012.. it might not be ancient enough for you! chapter 9 is on china..

Myriam Hildotter wrote:

I believe that cosmology/astrology is revealed knowledge from the Divine that has been passed on in a very broken form over the generations. While I do believe that observation has and does play a role in applied astrology, particularly in the late Iron Age. Observation, however, is secondary to the craft, not primary.

When I say that astrology is revealed knowledge, we must understand that not everything in astrology is of the order of Divine revealed knowledge. There are levels and levels to astrological knowledge.

High knowledge would be that Mars is the planetary representative for the Divine Aspect of Protection, Will (and Free Will), and the Conflict between Good and Evil. In his lower form, Mars is the ruler of conflict in general. Of similar high knowledge would be that Venus is the planetary representative for the Divine Aspect of Love, in all of its forms. (The association has gotten watered down in astrology to mean romantic or physical love, but really Venus represents all forms of love).

Also, of high knowledge would be that a square is an aspect of conflict, as it is the aspect associated with the number 4, which is the number of manifestation and conflict. In the study of metaphysics, numbers existed before there were things to be numbered. Mathematics is also/or can also be a spiritual discipline containing much in the way of deep metaphysical and spiritual Truth. Sadly, modern education has watered mathematics to utilitarian purposes as well.


i liked some of the things you said here.. i was relieved to know that i have some '''high'' knowledge on astrology, based on what you define as 'high knowledge', although maybe it has been watered down like the mathematics which is used for running the computer and keyboard that i am typing on at present!

Myriam Hildotter wrote:

Of a lower order of knowledge, we can say that Mars square Venus, would indicate tension between love and war. Lower still would be that Mars has an orb of 7 degrees with moiety of 3.5 degrees, or that we should not use degrees, but whole signs to measure the aspect.

The lowest form of this knowledge would be predicting that one's husband will be sent off to war based on this aspect. From this perspective measuring astrology from the ability of astrologers to predict, would be trying to prove higher forms of knowledge from lower applications of said knowledge. I am happy to measure individual techniques and the ability of astrologers from "testing;" however, one can not prove high knowledge from studying lower forms.

Interestingly enough, the higher the knowledge, the more agreement that there is among varied sources. There is little disagreement as to the meaning of Mars. The meaning of Venus (and Mercury, for that matter) has been greatly watered down over the ages; however, the essential meaning remains the same.

I would say a lot more, but I expect that this is a large piece to chew upon for those who have a different view of these things.
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Paul
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Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 12:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Whence astrology? Reply with quote

spock wrote:

Yes, the transitions I talked about coincide with age transits, which is that part of astrology that is most strongly validated, even clarified, by disciplines that overlap it, in this instance cognitive developmental psychology. But is this really "a more general behavioural pattern common to all people and a planetary transit etc. which corresponds with it" than other transits? After all, Saturn also transits conjunct, square or opposite the Nonagesimal or conjunct, square or opposite Mars for everyone, too, just not at the same ages for everyone as is the case with age transits.


Exactly, and precisely for this reason it is not a 'proof' of an astrological claim as you have cited. It is instead just noting that at certain ages we grow up. That we, as astrologers, pin on a correlation with some transit or return is irrelevant. Just as if I, as an event oriented astrologer, wouldn't suddenly find astrology validated if I said that around age 12, when there's a Jupiter return, that a child will start to go through puberty. Nobody would conclude that there is a proof for astrology. Similarly noting that people grow up mentally and emotionally at certain ages is similarly irrelevant.

I stand by my statement that there is little evidence at all for any form of astrological prediction. You said there is little evidence it predicts concrete events, I maintain that there is little evidence that it predicts anything at all - or, rather, that astrologer using it can predict anything. We do not have actual evidence. We have some correlations but they are not evidence and none of the examples you cited were setting out to test astrological claims or were making any mention of them.

Quote:
Do you really think non-age transits are different from age transits with regards to general behavioural patterns?


It is irrelevant what I think, the point I am making is in relation to your suggestion that there is evidence for psychologically driven astrological prediction. And there isn't.

Quote:
Event-oriented astrologers believe astrology predicts concrete external events and are resistant to or even contemptuous of psychological interpretations.


Incorrect. Event oriented astrologers predict events. How concrete they are is up to the astrologer. What their views are of psychological interpretation is similarly up to the astrologer. There is nothing inherent in predicting an event which dictates that the event one predicts must be concrete nor that by extension one must therefore also be contemptuous of psychological interpretation. These are non-sequitor and assume that event prediction is mutually exclusive with psychological interpretation. For example one could quite possibly say that it is "very likely that your boyfriend will return, but we should examine some issues you have more generally with relationship" here we have an event prediction (boyfriend will return) which isn't necessarily concrete (very likely, without quantifying that likelihood) whilst also engaging with the psyche (opening a discussion on relationship issues).

To suggest that if one predicts an event that it MUST be a concrete one and that therefore you are also contemptuous of psychological interpretation seems woefully tunnel visioned and illogically binary to me.

Quote:
At least some psychological astrologers are aware of the hit or miss quality of astrological prediction and deny that prediction is possible at all. Some of them also notice, I think, that for any given transit there is no single event that is predictably "the" thing that coincides with it, that there are many kinds of events that have coincided with a given transit so how do we know in advance which one to predict?


Why make the especial case for psychological astrologers - it would be truer to just say "astrologers are aware..." because of course event oriented astrologers, or at least some of them as you caveat yourself, are aware that prediction can be hit or miss and there is no one single event that we can be 100% sure of. For such people (or at least some of them) they know that their job isn't to get the 'only possible event' but instead the 'most likely event' based upon what their own judgement and weighing up of multiple considerations.

Quote:

But psychological astrologers like event-oriented astrologers associate prediction with external event prediction, and those who see problems with that reject prediction altogether.


Spock I'm starting to get confused what you mean by psychological astrologers here. Consider this quote and others like it and juxtapose it with your statement "I don't recall saying anything about "psychological astrologers' claims"" - clearly you are stating psychological astrologers' claims. However I am not sure now what you mean by a psychological astrologer. Whilst stating you wish to clarify what you mean by your statements of psychological astrologers all you have done is said you disagree with the use of secondary progression and are agnostic about Pluto, not what you yourself define psychological astrology as. Most people would define it as an astrology which is focused on the psychology of the native. If that is true then whilst you may be a psychological astrologer you are clearly more than that if you correlate that some events can happen not in the mind/psychology but instead in the outside world.

Quote:
But I find the rejection of prediction altogether just as untenable as the assumption that it can only concern concrete external events.


I am curious, who assumes that astrology can only predict concrete external events? Can you quote from some well known astrologers perhaps where they make this statement explicit?

Quote:

For me the question isn't if astrology predicts but what it predicts, and the answer as I've already suggested is the motivations underlying events.


And that is fine. My only point of contention is when you suggest that there is evidence for this prediction in a manner where there isn't for event prediction.

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If a configuration has a meaning or effect it should have it every time, not just some of the time. (Otherwise we would need another method to tell us when that method will have a meaning or effect.) That's one of the reasons I decided that astrology must predict internal states, not external outcomes, because on the basis of the latter it works sometimes and sometimes it doesn't.


What's the problem with needing some other method to tell us when the method will have meaning or effect though? I don't see why you're dismissing that notion. Perhaps the other method is even astrological? This is something traditional astrologers maintain with frequency for example, that not every transit will have the same meaning, it will often depend on other factors, those other factors could be whether or not that planet is a focus by way of some chronocratorship for example.

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I can see why you think I'm pulling a switcharoo, but that wasn't my intention and I think not really the case. You now say that I said astrologers learn not to predict, and that you provided two examples that contradicted that assertion. Your examples would have been counterexamples, however, only if I had added that, therefore, due to having learned not to, astrologers never do predict. But in fact, as you correctly quoted me in your earlier post, I immediately followed the statement that astrologers "learn to avoid prediction and instead explain what's already happened under the (mistaken) assumption that what's explainable after the fact would have been uniquely predictable before the fact" with a sentence beginning, "Or if they do predict..." So I didn't say or even imply that astrologers never predict.


No, as I said in my reply to you, you said they learn not to predict or they only predict vague things. My point being that clearly the two astrologers I went to did predict. So we can rule out that those astrologers 'learned not to' or at least they've yet to learn not to. Secondly what they predicted was not vague, but rather concrete. Therefore I find your assertion that astrologers learn not to predict or for those who do predict that they do so only vaguely completely false. It is not a true statement about astrologers, instead it may well be a true statement about astrologers you are familiar with. Examples of a prediction include that I would return to University, a death in the family on the mother's side, that a relationship would end etc. It is irrelevant how accurate those astrologers were. The point is that two professional astrologers, the only two I have ever gone to, both predicted and predicted something concrete. This is in sharp contrast to your suggestion to the contrary.

You have indeed replied with something not relevant to that by stating "If astrology works as obviously as most astrologers think it does, it should be easy to objectively demonstrate that it does." - how well astrology works, how accurate the prediction etc. is completely irrelevant to your earlier statement that I was contradicting. This may well be some additional point you want to make, but it is one which is not related to the point I was contradicting which exists on its own right.

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Part of what our exposure to paradigms teaches us is how to finesse this situation, and one of the ways in which we do so is by explaining past events and experiencing that as tantamount to prediction, as what astrology would have been able to do if it had been applied before rather than after the fact. Do we really expect, prior to astrological training, to spend a relatively large amount of time explaining rather than predicting events?


How does post-diction, as you imply it here, relate in any way to my example of clear and unequivocal pre-diction? It is almost like you are assuming they 'predicted after the event' as it were, but they didn't. They predicted BEFORE the event. They didn't look back at a situation and with the benefit of hindsight make some statements, they did it before anything happened. They made a prediction. The point being that whilst your statements may be true for you, they are clearly not true for astrologers as a whole, or, rather that your statement does not apply to astrologers as a whole. Whilst many astrologers do not predict and do make statements with hindsight as though they would have predicted it, clearly others do just go ahead and predict things.

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And when we do predict we often predict in vague, general terms that a lot of events will fit.


Right, but it seems you need to ignore my two experiences which are my only two with professional astrologers because they didn't predict in vague terms that a lot of events will fit. Either I go back to University or I don't. Either someone dies on my mother's side within the time frame or they don't.

You may really wish to believe that astrologers only predict in vague terms, and it may well be that you and others you know do this, but it is not true as applicable to all astrologers or, I suspect, even 'most' astrologers. I suspect it's as much down to the philosophies and paradigms of the astrologers as well as the methods they tend to employ as to whether or not astrologers predict in relatively vague or precise terms.

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To return to your specific protest — "Wait a second, you're juxtaposing my point against something else." — I saw your overall response as an exemplification of the kind of blind spot, an unawareness of some of the ways in which we convince ourselves astrology is working, that I've been talking about.


Actually my post was very clear in separating the nature of effectiveness of astrology and the accuracy of their prediction with regards the question of whether or not astrologers predict concrete things. As I said at the time and repeatedly since, it is irrelevant how accurate they are, my point of contradiction was the notion that they do not do it.

The blind spot is not mine.

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It might also be uncharitable of me to attribute to you a blind spot, but since my argument partly depends on it I'm not sure what the alternative is.


Well the alternative is that you are incorrect of course. It is not use assuming a priori that someone has a blind spot whilst offering no evidence of that blind spot just because the use of that a priori assumption better fits with your argument. A better solution would be to first determine if there is a blind spot and if so your argument may apply, and if not, clearly your argument needs some more work.

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To which I say/said, "There are lots of ways to unconsciously fudge. Readers, whether using crystal balls, tarot cards or astrological charts, are expert at picking up clues in ways they're not at all aware of themselves, nor is the client."


Whilst it is possible that they are experts at such things, to assume a priori that they are experts is to make the conclusion before examining the evidence. There is really no reason to suggest they are experts at such things except of course that the possibility that they are not weakens your argument exceptionally. So you have concluded that they are but actually the question still remains entirely open as to whether they are or not. You seem to be making quite a number of arguments on unfounded assumptions, the assumptions being so because they better fit your philosophy. You assume that they must be experts at such things because your philosophy finds the contrary idea to be distasteful or unlikely.

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I remember well the time I went to a psychic right after my wife had left me. She intoned, "I see a separation, a wall between you and a loved one one. Has something happened recently?" I was blown away. But later, as I was walking home, a thought intruded. No doubt a lot of people go to psychics in times of stress, for roughly similar reasons, a loss or separation. No doubt she wasn't oblivious to the redness of my cheeks and the haunted look in my eyes. I don't assume that she was cynically exploiting my gullibility, although it's possible. But consciously or not the clues were there for her to see, and her prediction was actually a pretty safe one.


Yes, there is a possibility that she picked up on body language. The fact there is a possibility of it does not conclude that she must have therefore done this. The other possibility is that she used some other means, like tarot or astrology etc. to divine the answer. Even if you yourself do not find that palatable. The question is only one of whether it is possible or not. It is illogical to me that you would conclude that it is impossible (which you are implicitly doing here, even if not explicitly).

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Now I wasn't a fly on the wall at either of the consultations you cited. I can't say for sure what did or didn't happen. What I can say is that astrologers like to cite instances in which they or an astrologer they went to made specific, highly accurate predictions,


Whilst they may, this doesn't apply to me. Remember, I have not stated whether they were highly accurate. Just that they were concrete. I am content to take your arguments one at a time, namely first deal with the notion that astrologers learn not to predict or only predict vaguely. This is clearly untrue in my example. It's also untrue of myself, I am content enough to make relatively accurate predictions - perhaps I haven't learned not to yet. However my focus was deliberately not on the accuracy argument. We can take that separately.

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when it's tested in circumstances in which there's no possibility of fudging, unconsciously or otherwise, the demonstration of astrology's validity, never mind its obvious validity, becomes maddeningly elusive.


Yes, and for psychologically focused astrology also. The problem, in my view, is that astrology isn't always ripe for scientific testing - and when it comes to questions like this, that is invariably all that people are concerned with.

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The impetus of my critique of astrology-as-is, and my attempts to help create something better, is trying to make sense of such contradictions, including the problem with rectification I've mentioned elsewhere.


Right, the problem, as I'm trying to address, is that many of your arguments are founded on ungrounded assumptions.
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Myriam Hildotter



Joined: 13 Sep 2013
Posts: 37

Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Waybread,

I do think that I need to clarify what I meant by tests being demeaning. That statement was in response to Nixx's proposal, which I took to mean seasoned astrologers being "tested" by non-astrologers to "prove" astrology as a discipline. That is a much, much different scenerio than astrologers being tested internally by teachers or by astrological organizations for competence. This is also much different than astrologers "testing" various techniques for accuracy.

I do consider myself reasonably competent at the craft of applied astrology, although, I do also know that I am a student of astrology, and have much to learn. I am not arrogant enough to think that just because I got something wrong, astrology is not valid. I also do not think that finding out a technique is flawed undermines astrology as a whole!

I do find your discussion of astrology's "truth claims" to be demeaning, in general, and I am having a hard time knowing what you mean by that.

Just to set the record straight, as it were, I do believe in education and training internally for astrologers. I am dubious of "licensing" because that would involve government regulation, and I am rather distrustful of these things at present. As we are speaking of the medical profession, I do not know that government regulation HAS been helpful for that profession (at least in the U.S.), and I am also aware that, in the U.S., the medical profession is controlled far more by insurance companies than suits my comfort level. Still, I don't want to get sidetracked on the discussion of another profession.

In a perfect world, I would think that a Guild System, with true apprenticeships, would be the ideal situation for the study of applied astrology, but I do not know how realistic that would be in the present day and age.

As I have said before, I consider astrology in the nature of a traditional science. In that context, theology is the starting point of all traditional science. The physical is seen as proceeding from the metaphysical, rather than the metaphysical being derived from the physical. Also, in this context, the spiritual and the secular are not divorced from each other...so it is not one thing or the other.

I agree that scientific research and observation is useless for the spiritual/metaphysical side of astrology; however, I do think it is important for practical application of this knowledge. Referring to my discussion high and low knowledge, I would not engage in research as far as the matters of high knowledge, such as the metaphysical meanings of Mars and Venus. I would absolutely research matters of low knowledge such as orbs or whole signs.

Also, in casting astrology as a traditional science, we are not re-inventing the wheel, as it were. That is how it has been cast historically, so we have a model by which to understand it.
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