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Why astrology is not a pseudoscience
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waybread



Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 934
Location: Canada

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:27 am    Post subject: Why astrology is not a pseudoscience Reply with quote

It just hit me.

Earlier today I had a reason to click on the Wikipedia entry for astrology and found this gem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology

"Throughout most of its history astrology was considered a scholarly tradition and was common in academic circles, often in close relation with astronomy, alchemy, meteorology, and medicine.[4] It was present in political circles, and is mentioned in various works of literature.... However, with the onset of the scientific revolution astrology was called into question; it has been challenged successfully both on theoretical[5]:249[6] and experimental[7][8] grounds, and has been shown to have no scientific validity[3] or explanatory power. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, and common belief in astrology has largely declined.[9] Astrology is now recognized to be pseudoscience.[10][11][12][13][14]:1350

Astrology is not a science, as card-carrying scientists understand science.

"Science" has several definitions. Although it can mean simply a body of knowledge, any activity performed with precision, or inquiries about the natural and physical world since the dawn of humanity, none of these means "science" to actual scientists today.

Dictionary definitions of science gleaned from a Google definition search come up with something like the following:

"The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment."

"A system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method and concerned with the physical world and its phenomena."

"[Science] uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena."

Science is also typically distinguished from non-scientific fields by its use of the scientific method: hypothesis testing, data gathering (experimentation,) data analysis, and conclusions referring back to whether the hypothesis is confirmed or rejected. Science also operates according to explanatory theories (like natural selection) and laws (such as laws of gravity and thermodynamics.)

Although science definitions vary and some leave room for quibbles (astronomy looks beyond the world, for example,) the key concepts are: experiment, scientific method, testing one's hypothesis, and observation of natural and physical phenomena.

Astrologers seldom do any of these things. When we have, or when well-intended academics have tested astrology's truth claims, astrology has fared poorly. So if we do not lay claim to doing science, it would be difficult for anyone to counter that we are doing pseudoscience. For one thing, astrologers' focus is seldom specifically on the natural or physical world (apart from a few astro-meteorologists.)

Astrology is perhaps best defined as a system of divination. A sophisticated divinatory system is compatible with observation and numeracy.

Astrology can be highly empirical, but so are many other fields that nobody labels as sciences, such as history and law. Some astrologers seem to believe that if a field employs observation and numbers that it must be a science. Not so.

Science of today is not science of the past. Science has changed and evolved over time. Prior to the Renaissance, western astrology fit in well with the sciences of the day. Generally speaking, astrology was indistinguishable from astronomy, and was closely allied with medicine. Astrology and science began to diverge with the Copernican Revolution, and continued with advances in medicine that were made without reference to medical astrology. Astrology could easily be considered a science in ancient times back when Aristotle was in vogue, but today science (as geophysics or molecular biology) is simply the wrong category of comparison.

The accusation of astrology as a pseudoscience-- and some astrologers' contrary belief that astrology actually is a science-- won't disappear soon. But I think we should stop looking at astrology from the misplaced science/pseudoscience binary perspective. Astrology is better situated as a system of divination, with much more in common with the humanities (history, philosophy, literature &c) and social sciences (sociology, anthropology &c) than with the real sciences (astronomy, chemistry, physics, zoology, geology, &c.)

Although some modern astrologers (like Dane Rudhyar and Liz Greene) claimed kinship with psychology, this comparison is decreasingly apt. Of the social sciences, psychology departments today increasingly classify themselves as behavioural scientists whose research mandates clinical trials. Carl Jung and the more philosophical dimensions of psychology are scarcely taught in accredited comprehensive colleges and universities.

The label "social sciences" is usually a misnomer, in comparison to "science" as understood by physical and natural scientists. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the fields of sociology, anthropology, political science, &c were developed in universities, scholars thought that it was possible to study human behaviour in a rigorous scientific manner, and ideally come up with robust theories and even laws to explain it. This possibility is less and less seen to be the case, for a variety of ethical and methodological reasons relating to research with human subjects. Some social science research is highly empirical and statistical, but again-- observation and numeracy do not alone a science make. We need some measure of experimentation, data collection, and statistical data analysis.

The most inclusive definition of social sciences today might be: "the study of human behaviour, interactions, institutions, and cultures." A definition of the humanities (such as philosophy, comparative religion, modern languages, classics, &c) is found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanities

Astrology may make the best disciplinary fit with the humanities. Although the university teaching of astrology as a practical subject may be a long way in the future, scholars are writing books and articles about the history of astrology, astrology in the context of the history of astronomy, astrology in literature, and astrological beliefs in society.

I am not suggesting that astrology should become an academic subject (once again.) More specifically, I think the science vs. pseudoscience animosity between scientists and astrologers is misguided and unhelpful. If astrologers were to define their craft as a system of divination with much in common with the humanities, then hopefully we could point out that in order to be considered a pseudoscience, a discipline has to have pretentions of being a science in the first place.
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wikipedia has had a long standing bias against astrology because of their policy of user editing. Astrologers could use the same tactics to deface their astronomy pages but don't do so. Hardly surprising. Truth is an odd thing in this world. It likes to remain hidden.
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james_m



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Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi waybread,

i admire your objectives and desire to set things straight.. wikipedia is a type of propaganda site.. there are elements of truth and elements of fiction.. it's the readers responsibility to figure out the difference.. see if you can edit the page to make it more to your liking.. good luck!
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waybread



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Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys.

The Wikipedia excerpt in the OP was really only a departure point, not my main focus. There are many more opinion pieces on astrology as a pseudoscience out there, and I don't propose trying to edit them all.

In a nutshell: both scientists and astrologers seem locked in a science/not-science (or pseudoscience) binary that fundamentally obscures an understanding of science by astrologers, and an understanding of astrology by scientists and the sceptical public at large. Astrology's comparables are not geochemistry, plant genetics, astronomy, or even psychology, but disciplines in the humanities.

Setting aside generic definitions of science as simply a body of knowledge (or a systematic empirical body of knowledge,) if we look at the physical and natural sciences as scientists practice them today, it is clear that astrology is not a science. Astrology was a science once upon a time, but it has not been a science for several centuries.

We have to ask why scientists or the sceptical public at large do not criticize philosophers or historians as pseudoscientists. Philosophers do not use the scientific method in the laboratory, or run their ethics problems through batteries of statistics. The reason is because philosophers and historians have no pretention of being scientists. Physics and meteorology simply aren't their basis of comparison. Fields like philosophy and history, in contrast, rest comfortably within another family of disciplines called the humanities.

Some definitions of the humanities that seem sufficiently inclusive to admit astrology:

“The humanities—including the study of languages, literature, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, comparative religion, ethics, and the arts—are disciplines of memory and imagination, telling us where we have been and helping us envision where we are going.” - See more at: http://4humanities.org/2014/12/what-are-the-humanities/#sthash.GeBg26Qs.dpuf

"The humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world."
http://shc.stanford.edu/what-are-the-humanities

"The branches of learning (such as philosophy or languages) that investigate human constructs and concerns, as opposed to natural processes. ...
The humanities, such as classical and modern languages, literature, history, and philosophy, have the overall goal of the exploration and explanation of human experience."
http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/co301aman/pop6b.cfm

Astrology is all about explaining the human experience, understanding how people process it, and describing where we have been and where we are going.

This is not to argue that astrology should become an academic subject, but it is interesting that just as scientists dismiss astrology as pseudoscience, historians of astronomy, literature, and societal trends are increasingly publishing books and articles about astrology as a cultural phenomenon.
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Astrology is not a pseudoscience because it is a science.

To say otherwise won't help public acceptance, because in the minds of many, to say that something is not scientific is to admit that it's arbitrary, poppycock, bogus.

For that matter, I don’t think that many Jungians would be happy to renounce that their psychology is scientific. And neither should we regarding astrology, imo.

According to the OP, only natural sciences qualify as "real sciences". While there may in fact be some academics subscribing to such a view, luckily some scientists, most notably quantum physicists, already started to break through the barrier that seems to separate the external from the internal. The future belongs to a kind of science which straddles those worlds, or so it is to be hoped. Astrology and the other esoteric sciences have much to contribute to this development.

Therefore I will continue to think and talk of astrology as a science, in keeping with my conviction that:

As esotericism becomes more scientific, science becomes more esoteric.

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Reason for edit: Sentence corrected.


Last edited by Michael Sternbach on Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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john



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Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for raising this issue on the forum. I can see this developing in how terms are defined.

My thoughts in this area have evolved over time and will probably continue to evolve!

I consider astrology to be neither a science nor a pseudoscience.

Modern thought/science regards time in quantities (be it a second or a year) and that each quantity is the same. Accordingly, things become repeatable or verifiable. An object falls to earth at a moment in time and the exact same thing will happen at another moment.

Astrology describes the quality of time.

Time, as a quality is unique for each moment. Our own experiences are unique and not repeatable, even the daily routine, be it our actions, interaction with others, our thoughts and moods.

As a newsreader describes events and does not create them, so the planets describe each unique moment and do not cause them.

Humanities are an interesting argument. If it is defined as studying human culture it may have the impression of ‘the outsider looks in’ at astrologers. (This is something I need to think some more on!). I guess the opposite end of this viewpoint, is to consider astrology as a craft (rather than a creation by the hand, such as bread making or pottery, but a creation of the mind). As I’ve heard said, you cannot make bread or pottery by just reading a book, you have to actually practice the ‘craft’; such is the same with astrology.
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waybread



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Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael, The point I make is that astrology is not a pseudoscience because it isn't even close to being a science. It just isn't. The only hallmarks of science that astrology possesses it shares with the humanities and parts of the social sciences.

I'd be curious to learn your definition of the humanities, and why it is you don't think astrology is a good fit. (Recall that history is empirical, religious studies postulate a link between humanity and the cosmos, and linguistics deals with symbolic languages.)

Quote:
To say otherwise won't help public acceptance, because in the minds of many, to say that something is not scientific is to admit that it's arbitrary, poppycock, bogus.


So whom do you know who thinks history is bogus or that the study of great literature is poppycock? These fields are not some kind of "bad science." They are not science at all and do not pretend to be. Science is not the only major division of knowledge.

Jungian psychology is not taught in North American comprehensive university psychology departments. precisely because of its untested truth-claims. You will find it, but in specialized "institutes" and in a few colleges with narrow missions.

Prior to the mid-Renaissance is was fair enough to call astrology a science because science itself was very different from its current practice.

Quote:
According to the OP, only natural sciences qualify as "real sciences". While there may in fact be some academics subscribing to such a view, luckily some scientists, most notably quantum physicists, already started to break through the barrier that seems to separate the external from the internal. The future belongs to a kind of science which straddles those worlds is the science of the future, or so it is to be hoped. Astrology and the other esoteric sciences have much to contribute to this development.


No, I noted physical and natural sciences. Physics is one of the physical sciences, zoology is one of the natural sciences. Add medical science. What do you mean by "the barrier that seems to separate the external from the internal"?

Astrology cannot be compared with cutting-edge physics, because astrologers have no experimental agenda, to the best of my knowledge; and no robust theories, for that matter.

"Esoteric sciences" is an oxymoron.

The "science of the future" is not the science of today.

In the OP I distinguished between a common usage of "science" simply meaning a body of knowledge, and science as it is practiced by professional scientists today. I hope you can use the latter as your definition of science.
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waybread



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Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, John-- speaking of the humanities, in a long ago philosophy lecture I learned about the distinction between the ideographic and the nomothetic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomothetic_and_idiographic

The ideographic deals with specific presumably unique instances, and the nomothetic deals with generalizations. In science, these generalizations might be laws, theories, or hypotheses. In the humanities, examples of generalizations might be American realism (literature) or abstract paintings (art history.) We could recognize each novel or each painting as a unique creative work, yet one that shares predictable commonalities with other works of its genre.

In astrology we recognize the unique individual and horoscope (ideographic) but also commonalities of planets-in-signs and in houses (nomothetic.) For example, we would expect a domiciled planet in the 10th house to be a strong element (nomothetic) of an individual's horoscope (ideographic) regardless of the individual-- barring some unanticipated event like the person being brain-injured as a child.

Time is an interesting problem. We have to acknowledge how culture-bound our ideas of time are. To me, as a westerner living by clocks and calendars, time is linear and unrepeatable. To an enlightened Hindu, all time is simultaneous, and it is merely our personal barriers and filters that prevent us from experiencing simultaneity. Eckhart Tolle has written eloquently about living entirely in the moment. As I sit looking at the snow coming down this December, I think of seasonal time, which does repeat itself in predictable ways, although no given winter where I live seems identical to any previous winter: winter weather includes both the nomothetic and ideographic.

I think the idea of astrology as a craft has a lot of merit. To compare astrology to making pottery or bread might negate astrology's metaphysical component (cf. philosophy, comparative religion,) and use of symbolism, but I like it a whole lot better than conceptualizing astrology within the no-win science/pseudoscience debate.
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:
Michael, The point I make is that astrology is not a pseudoscience because it isn't even close to being a science. It just isn't. The only hallmarks of science that astrology possesses it shares with the humanities and parts of the social sciences.

I'd be curious to learn your definition of the humanities, and why it is you don't think astrology is a good fit. (Recall that history is empirical, religious studies postulate a link between humanity and the cosmos, and linguistics deals with symbolic languages.)


I do not mean to separate astrology from the humanities. The humanities are sciences too, in my understanding, but obviously not in yours - in contrast to what you call "real sciences".

That being said, although astrology partially ties in with the humanities, it also has ties to astronomy, mathematics, geophysics etc. I believe that in the future its connections to quantum physics, biophysics and further areas will become more obvious as well.

Its holistic interconnectedness and wide applicability make astrology a universal science. That's why it was once rightfully considered the Queen of the sciences.

Quote:
Quote:
To say otherwise won't help public acceptance, because in the minds of many, to say that something is not scientific is to admit that it's arbitrary, poppycock, bogus.


So whom do you know who thinks history is bogus or that the study of great literature is poppycock? These fields are not some kind of "bad science." They are not science at all and do not pretend to be. Science is not the only major division of knowledge.


The difference to the fields you mention should become obvious when we consider that ,as astrologers, we endeavour to translate the symbolical language of the celestial objects into accurate terms that relate to our clients' daily life.

Quote:
Jungian psychology is not taught in North American comprehensive university psychology departments. precisely because of its untested truth-claims. You will find it, but in specialized "institutes" and in a few colleges with narrow missions.


That's too bad.

Quote:
Prior to the mid-Renaissance is was fair enough to call astrology a science because science itself was very different from its current practice.


Here you get to the gist of the matter.

Astrology was once well embedded in the Platonic/Aristotelian natural science/philosophy. With the Scientific Revolution and the arrival of a purely mechanistic view of the world, it lost its rational foundations. As the mechanistic model is (slowly) being transcended in our time, there is the chance to restore astrology as a science - based on quantum physics, transpersonal psychology and other areas of research which increasingly tie in with the wisdom of the Ages.

Quote:
Quote:
According to the OP, only natural sciences qualify as "real sciences". While there may in fact be some academics subscribing to such a view, luckily some scientists, most notably quantum physicists, already started to break through the barrier that seems to separate the external from the internal. The future belongs to a kind of science which straddles those worlds, or so it is to be hoped. Astrology and the other esoteric sciences have much to contribute to this development.


No, I noted physical and natural sciences. Physics is one of the physical sciences, zoology is one of the natural sciences.


Since "natural sciences" commonly include physics, I overlooked the division you are making. I got you right, anyway.

Quote:
Add medical science. What do you mean by "the barrier that seems to separate the external from the internal"?


What I referred to is that some physicists start seeing the seemingly objective world as inseparable from the observer, or the Universe as a manifestation of Spirit. This seems in stark contrast to any attempt at a strict division between physics on the one hand and philosophy and psychology on the other. The work on synchronicities by Jung and Pauli may be seen as a precursor.

Quote:
Astrology cannot be compared with cutting-edge physics, because astrologers have no experimental agenda, to the best of my knowledge;


This is not a rigorous requirement for science. Astronomy has been and, for the most part, still is relying on observation alone (you hinted at this yourself).

Quote:
and no robust theories, for that matter.


Astrology has a theoretical framework which includes at least the four elements, the three principles, the zodiac, the planets, the major aspects, the angles and the houses. The validity and general meaning of these is accepted by the vast majority of astrologers.

Needless to say, there are many variations when it comes to the details. But that doesn't make astrology unscientific, just like few people would call quantum physics unscientific because different representatives believe in different models, such as String/M Theory, Supersymmetry, Loop Quantum Gravity.

Quote:
"Esoteric sciences" is an oxymoron.


Again, not in the original understanding of science which humanity will need to return to on a higher winding of the evolutionary spiral. The alternative would be a decline into pure materialism, leading to enslavement and destruction.

Quote:
The "science of the future" is not the science of today.

In the OP I distinguished between a common usage of "science" simply meaning a body of knowledge, and science as it is practiced by professional scientists today. I hope you can use the latter as your definition of science.


No, I don't accept that definition as "science".
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waybread



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Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael, what you have established is that you live in a world of wishful thinking, not that you understand science as it is practiced by professional scientists today.

Is it possible that the confusion is over a mis-translation of the German word Wissenschaft into the English word science? Although Wissenschaft is used to identify the physical, natural, and medical sciences in the German language; moreso than in English it carries the more generalized sense of any systematic body of knowledge.

I have only a rudimentary tourist knowledge of German, but what I have defined as science is more akin to the German word Naturwissenschaft (loosely in English "natural science.") Not the Geisteswissenschaften or humanities and social sciences. I don't know what is the separate German word for "physical science" as this is understood in English to comprise physics, physical chemistry, astronomy, geophysics, &c; in contrast to the natural sciences comprised of botany, zoology, and microbiology, &c.

My thread is not about Wissenschaft in your generalized sense, but science as the term is understood by Anglophone scientists, such as chemists, microbiologists, and astronomers.

You have no idea when your dream world is likely to materialize.

To you, science does seem to be the be-all and end-all. Otherwise you would be fine with defining astrology as something other than science.
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Paul
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Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Waybread

Michael hasn't been rude that I can see, let's keep things as respectfully as we can, even if we disagree.

Personally I don't see astrology as a science, and I'm okay with that, precisely because I don't see science as the gatekeeper of all knowledge or the only/best way of attaining truth or knowledge.

But as for wikipedia, it is highly biased in many instances, and astrology is one such place where that bias reveals itself. You will find it next to impossible to actually edit any pages on astrology as there are a group of people who wish to control, as much as possible, the tone of pages like that. I realise that sounds a little paranoid or far fetched, but actually it is the case.

Check out this kind of video for example - this is an organised effort by a 'skeptical' group who have a mission to use guerilla tactics (their words) to edit wikipedia to promote what their brand of skeptic thinking is:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FuJT9mp0jw

This all falls under the banner of the James Randi Educational Foundation.

You'll probably notice how many of the statements on this wiki page do not have any citations - particularly the definition of astrology itself, which should seem odd. However citations for arguments against astrology are plentiful.

It's useful to see just how regularly this page gets edited, and re-edited. In particular how someone tries to make an edit and someone else rolls back that edit:
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Astrology&action=history

I believe some people are trying to rectify this - I'm not sure to what success:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Astrology
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Graham F



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Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The concept of a "skeptical community" as referred to in the video Paul links to is rather amusing, but nevertheless astrology could do with more critical thinking, as the lady with the funny hat attached (just) says. Even though I agree more with those who see it as firstly a system of divination, and thus not necessarily required to present "scientific" credentials.

For example, I have never (and I have looked - please tell me if I've missed something) found any astrologer, ancient or modern, give a remotely convincing argument as to why Aries should be the first sign, for all eternity, in the tropical zodiac. The nearest seems to be that it was culminating in the Thema Mundi, so should be placed to start at the VP (!?), or that the start of spring is somehow "martial", or that most of the solar Leo is rightly placed in August as the weather is hottest and driest then (certainly not usually true where I live in central southern France, though the sea and large bodies of water are a bit warmer).

Aries as the all-time first sign was clearly not arrived at by testing all twelve divisions within the classical rulership scheme and deciding which works best, but (it seems to me) on one retrospective interpretation of Ptolemy. It's more of the nature of a dogma, which must not be questioned if we want to go on to develop a body or system of thought. There is nothing wrong with dogma per se, but it should be recognised as such.

For example, Christianity (at least in its Catholic form) is based on the dogma that Jesus resurrected, bodily. Over the centuries this in turn has produced, more or less by logical deduction supported by the odd observed miracle, a chain of unfolding theology, other dogmas culminating (so far) in the Assumption of Mary (1950). Though interestingly, perhaps Christianity could actually qualify as being based in scientific method as per Karl Popper, since it could theoretically be disproved: if Jesus didn't resurrect, the whole edifice collapses (as the devoutly Anglican C.S. Lewis admitted, and indeed asserted).

Surely the whole edifice of tropical astrology is based on the dogma of 0° Aries=VP (and this can never be disproved). You quite often read things involving circular logic like "The vernal equinox is at 0° Aries, because Aries is the first sign", or "the first sign is Aries, because it starts at the vernal equinox point". Nothing else in (tropical) astrology is so dogmatic, and so fundamental. The qualities and influences of the planets, the effects of rulerships and aspects, the division of the local sky etc can and have all been questioned, tested and argued about.

(For sidereal astrology, I'd see the many different ayanamsa as the dogmatic foundation.)

Graham
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:
Michael, what you have established is that you live in a world of wishful thinking,


Oh dear, you remind me of my ex...

Quote:
not that you understand science as it is practiced by professional scientists today.


I understand it. But I am not buying.

Quote:
Is it possible that the confusion


Um, whose confusion are you talking about?

Quote:
is over a mis-translation of the German word Wissenschaft into the English word science? Although Wissenschaft is used to identify the physical, natural, and medical sciences in the German language; moreso than in English it carries the more generalized sense of any systematic body of knowledge.


Science is not a trademark. Wikipedia defines it as follows:

Quote:
Science[nb 1] is a systematic enterprise that creates, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.[nb 2][2]:58


I would say, astrology fits into this nicely.

Further:

Quote:
Contemporary science is typically subdivided into the natural sciences which study the material world, the social sciences which study people and societies, and the formal sciences like mathematics. The formal sciences are often excluded as they do not depend on empirical observations.[3] Disciplines which use science like engineering and medicine may also be considered to be applied sciences.[4]


Astrology is both theoretical and applied science, in my view. Onky the latter coincides with its definition as a craft.

Quote:
I have only a rudimentary tourist knowledge of German, but what I have defined as science is more akin to the German word Naturwissenschaft (loosely in English "natural science.") Not the Geisteswissenschaften or humanities and social sciences. I don't know what is the separate German word for "physical science" as this is understood in English to comprise physics, physical chemistry, astronomy, geophysics, &c; in contrast to the natural sciences comprised of botany, zoology, and microbiology, &c.


There are different classifications as a quick Internet search will reveal. A common one includes physics in natural sciences. (Not that this would matter much here.)

Quote:
My thread is not about Wissenschaft in your generalized sense, but science as the term is understood by Anglophone scientists, such as chemists, microbiologists, and astronomers.


Actually, I got that. To summarize my position: Rather than submitting to the reductionist/materialist view of science (by excluding astrology from it), astrology should be used to reform and restore science to its original holistic form which includes and interconnects the physical and the spiritual. That's in fact what astrology does all by itself, therefore what it demonstrates and serves as a model for.

Quote:
You have no idea when your dream world is likely to materialize.


True. But the more people share my dream, the sooner it will materialize.

Quote:
To you, science does seem to be the be-all and end-all.


I would say, that's an exaggeration.

Quote:
Otherwise you would be fine with defining astrology as something other than science.


While I don’t deny that "science" is written all over my natal chart, I hope I got across that my objection is not based on a misunderstanding of terminology but to fundamental considerations. Smile
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham wrote:
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For example, I have never (and I have looked - please tell me if I've missed something) found any astrologer, ancient or modern, give a remotely convincing argument as to why Aries should be the first sign, for all eternity, in the tropical zodiac.


Its not going to sway you if you follow a sidereal zodiac but here is Ptolemy's explanation:

Quote:
Of the four seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, spring exceeds in moisture on account of its diffusion after the cold has passed and warmth is setting in; the summer, in heat, because of the nearness of the sun to the zenith; autumn more in dryness, because of the sucking up of the moisture during the hot season just past; and winter exceeds in cold, because the sun is farthest away from the zenith. For this reason, although there is no natural beginning of the zodiac, since it is a circle, they assume that the sign which begins with the vernal equinox, that of Aries, is the starting-point of them all, making the excessive moisture of the spring the first part of the zodiac as though it were a living creature, and taking next in order the remaining seasons, because in all creatures the earliest ages, like the spring, have a larger share of moisture and are tender and still delicate. The second age, up to the prime of life, exceeds in heat, like summer; the third, which is now past the prime and on the verge of decline, has an excess of dryness, like autumn; and the last, which approaches dissolution, exceeds in its coldness, like winter. Tetrabiblos, Book 1.10, Claudius Ptolemy


That seems a fairly lukewarm endorsement of Aries as the first sign. Later in Tetrabiblos Ptolemy suggests any of the four cardinal signs could be used as the start of the year:

In book II Ch10 of Tetrabiblos Ptolemy discusses which of the four cardinal ingresses should be used as the chart for the year. Unlike the later Perso-Arabic astrologers that heavily emphasized the Aries ingress as predominant Ptolemy sees equal arguments for using all four cardinal signs as the beginning of the year. He therefore suggests casting charts for all the quarters of the year.

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Now that we have described the procedure of prediction about the general states of countries and cities, it would remain to mention matters of greater detail; I refer to events that happen yearly in connection with the seasons. In the investigation of this subject it would be appropriate first to define the so‑called new moon of the year.

That this should properly be the beginning of the sun's circular course in each of his revolutions is plain from the thing itself, both from its power and from its name. To be sure, one could not conceive what starting-point to assume in a circle, as a general proposition; but in the circle through the middle of the zodiac one would properly take as the only beginnings the points determined by the equator and the tropics, that is, the two equinoxes and the two solstices. Even then, however, one would still be at a loss which of the four to prefer. Indeed, in a circle, absolutely considered, no one of them takes the lead, as would be the case if there were one starting-point, but those who have written on these matters have made use of each of the four, in various ways assuming some one as the starting-point, as they were led by their own arguments and by the natural characteristics of the four points. This is not strange, for each of these parts has some special claim to being reasonably considered the starting-point and the new year. The spring equinox might be preferred because first at that time the day begins to be longer than the night and because it belongs to the moist season, and this element, as we said before, is chiefly present at the beginning of nativities; the summer solstice because the longest day occurs at that time and because to the Egyptians it signifies the flooding of the Nile and the rising of the dog star; the fall equinox because all the crops have by then been harvested, and a fresh start is then made with the sowing of the seed of future crops; and the winter solstice because then, after diminishing, the day first begins to lengthen. It seems more proper and natural to me, however, to employ the four starting-points for investigations which deal with the year, observing the syzygies of the sun and moon at new and full moon which most nearly precede them, and among these in particular the conjunctions at which eclipses take place, so that from the starting-point in Aries we may conjecture what the spring will be like, from that in Cancer the summer, from that in Libra the autumn, and from that in Capricorn the winter. For the sun creates the general qualities and conditions of the seasons, by means of which even those who totally ignorant of astrology can foretell the future. Tetrabiblos Book II. 10, Claudius Ptolemy.


As you have already mentioned the Thema Mundi its worth recalling it has a Cancer ascendant.

Mark
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Paul
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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham F wrote:

For example, I have never (and I have looked - please tell me if I've missed something) found any astrologer, ancient or modern, give a remotely convincing argument as to why Aries should be the first sign, for all eternity, in the tropical zodiac.


Hi Graham

I'm all for critical thinking too, but I don't think we should necessarily look for causal reasons to explain our astrology (not arguing that you say this) but instead we look for symbolic ones, which could be equally if not more important. But what was the convincing argument for why Aries should be the first sign, for all eternity, in the sidereal zodiac, which is more convincing?

Surely it doesn't matter much which one we use as the first?

Quote:
Surely the whole edifice of tropical astrology is based on the dogma of 0° Aries=VP (and this can never be disproved).


Why are we calling this dogma? In what way is it different from the notion that there are 12 and not 8 houses, or signs, or that we even use the zodiac at all? I'm not sure why the focus here on the tropical zodiac.

I think the reality is that many people find the symbolic connection of the sun's declination as releavant to their notion of time and their association of meaning with that time - and for many, that is what astrology has at its foundation, the associating of meaning, and the recognition of that meaning, with moments of time.
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