By Martien Hermes
Why don’t astrologers listen to scientists? Or: Why it is rational for astrologers to ignore scientific and statistical research into astrology.
“We feel that even if all possible scientific questions are answered, we have not even touched upon the problems of life.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein; Tractatus
“If science is rational, why is it so rare in human history? If faith is irrational, why have the great majority of people always preferred traditional beliefs to new ones obtained by independent, critical investigation?”
Theodore J. Everett
In 2000/2001 the publication of the book Astrology in the Year Zero again put a great emphasis on the – supposedly – scientific research and repudiation of astrology and astrological claims of being able to actually judge a horoscope. In the Netherlands this was soon followed by a small collection of lectures titled: “Astrology and science”. It contains a collection of four transcripts of lectures, published earlier in the astrological periodical (Astrofocus) of the Dutch Astrological Association. In both publications the scientists attack astrology and astrologers and – as usual – we get raked over the coals. In his award-winning book The Real Astrology, John Frawley merrily returns the favour and makes fun of the scientist’s claims and refutes them, under the header ‘some modern fallacies’ – of sceptics as well as astrologers. “’We tested 500 astrologers…’” he writes: “Competent astrologers are few and far between; but somehow the scientists who run the supposed tests on astrology seem to have no trouble in finding them. ‘We tested 50/500/5000 astrologers,’ they proclaim, ‘and found that only two of them knew what day of the week it was’. Exactly where they find these competent astrologers, unless they breed them like mice in their laboratories, is a mystery. There may – possibly – be 500 competent astrologers in the world; but it is most certain that scientists lack either the inclination or the necessary criteria to determine who they are. Even more certain is that most astrologers of any competence will have better things with which to occupy themselves than running through mazes for the edification of men in white coats.”
The debate between these two parties is an old one, and time and time again it is ignited by publications such as these. Both parties present their points of view as the ultimate proof of the validity of each of them, but very often the scientists seem to checkmate us astrologers by the sheer weight of the statistical methods that ‘seem to be on their side’. Any response an astrologer could ever hope to have, every argument that could be levelled against the apparently overwhelming evidence against the case of astrology seems to get swept away by this ultimate scientific weapon: statistical evidence. The wielding of this weapon is enough to silence every opposition, or so it seems. This article is intended to give astrologers some arguments in this debate with scientists. Often astrologers simply have nothing or very little to say to defend astrology against the claims of these scientists and the (predominantly) negative results of statistical and scientific research into astrology, which is so contrary to their everyday experience with it. In the eyes of the scientists (and even some astrologers) this might seem to be some sort of an acknowledgement of a possible ‘victory based upon solid statistical and scientific methods of proof- and truth-finding’, however, this silence on the astrologer’s part is probably based on more rational grounds than scientists might want to believe or have an ability to see. I will explain the reasons of this shortly.
My point in this article is that these scientists wield their statistics the same way they reproach astrologers of using their horoscopes. I argue that probably no amount of good or valid examples and horoscopic evidence will ever satisfy or convince these scientists, just as no astrologer will probably ever give in to the abstract conclusions drawn from ‘alien’ sources such as the so revered statistics, which can be – and have been – just as easily manipulated – or ‘(re-)interpreted’ one way or the other – as scientists claim astrologers do with their faulty horoscopes.
According to the editor of the Dutch booklet “Astrology and science”, Hans de Groot, the articles were particularly intended to “…remove the bias of astrologers that research into the truth of astrology is merely meant to attack astrology and its practitioners”. The remark “…the truth of astrology …”, which is also the opening sentence of the ‘Bible’ of these scientists: Recent Advances in Natal Astrology, begs reaction. What exactly is truth? How can one define the (or even: a) ‘level of truth’ in anything? How does one ‘measure’ such a thing? Are they saying that scientists have an exclusive claim on what’s true and what is not? Can statistics actually measure this and a horoscope not?
I will do this by presenting an interesting theory by Theodore J. Everett on subjective rationality.”
Everett’s theory of ‘rational belief’
is not a disclaimer, as many scientists would have it, but simply another version of rationality, not a less valid one. I think his arguments are valid for our discussion with scientists. ”I think this answer is false. I see the conflict between science and faith as resulting not from the struggle of rational thought against irrational forces of conformity, but from a systematic tension between two aspects of rationality itself, which I call simply subjective and objective.
I make two main controversial claims. I claim that most people rationally (in the more basic, subjective sense) ought to believe in their local traditions, because that is what all of the people around them believe, and few individuals are in a total epimistic situation from within which they can reasonably contradict their neighbours. I also claims that most scientists and other modern intellectuals ought rationally (in the same sense) not to believe in their own theories, though it is often good for others in the long run when they do”. Accentuation by Everett.
His point is, that people have access to several and different ‘pools of evidence’ and that they can, and actually do, arrive at different conclusions, and other systems of belief or convictions than what is scientifically current, or what one believes in other religions – and that they arrive at these conclusion in a rational way. All these beliefs Everett calls subjectively rational instead of irrational. It can simply be equally rational for people to come up with different beliefs.
Does this imply that when everybody in my neighbourhood believes that the Martians are coming tomorrow, that we’re allowed to call this a subjectively rational belief that is true? No, because that would imply that anything could be posited by an appeal to this subjective rationality. According to Everett these beliefs have to be correctly drawn/concluded from all the available evidence in a particular ‘pool of evidence’, even if this pool of evidence differs from another one. Everett: “Consider an ordinary child’s belief in the existence of Santa Claus. It may seem that such children must be making some kind of juvenile mistake in reasoning to come to such a poorly evidenced conclusion. But from the subjective rational point of view, there is usually nothing wrong with them at all. They are not making any mistakes, giving the evidence they actually have.” So the point for now is, that for scientists researching astrology statistics is their first order pool of evidence, for astrologers it is the horoscope.
Everett also makes the following distinction, which I think is relevant to our discussion with scientists. “Religion and faith are not coextensive. There are plenty of traditional and other second-hand beliefs that have nothing to do with religion, and there are sources of belief that are not second order [we will come to this ‘second-order-proof’ shortly-MH]. For example, many people claim to have their own, auto-empirical religious experiences, anywhere from hearing vividly the voice of God, tot the vague “oceanic feeling” that Sigmund Freud talks about. There are also some science-like ingredients in religion, including philosophical discussions among theologians. But the thing that really makes religion or religious faith what it is, an institution as opposed to a mere set of doctrines, is its transmission through testimony from one generation to another.” Accentuation by me. I think that last remark applies to astrology as well as it does to science, although scientists generally would have it that astrology is by no means an institution but merely a set of irrational doctrines past on from generations of astrologers to another.
This argument – different pools of evidence – Everett applies to the difference of opinion between scientists and representatives of religions. I think it can also be used in our discussion with scientists, because implicitly or explicitly astrologers are being accused of irrational beliefs, or even irrational behaviour. Everett: “I want to argue that the main source of disagreement in many such questions is that people on the different sides have different total evidence. The people on both sides are drawing the conclusions that as individuals they rationally ought to draw from their evidence”. (Accentuation by Everett) to believe. to understand or accept the evidence from the other party. Therefore cientists cannot reproach an astrologer for not arriving at the same conclusions about astrology based on statistics, or agreeing with them. The reason is that statistics are neither an astrological, nor a necessary or relevant pool of evidence for astrologers, a necessary or a relevant pool of evidence for them. In the case of scientists who know or understand next to nothing about astrology, this is a very pertinent argument that explains why they seem to be just as deaf to our astrological arguments as we astrologers (who have no experience or knowledge whatsoever of statistics) are deaf to their scientific/statistic arguments. The problem is: what to do with scientists who are or have been trained in astrology? They did have access to the same ‘pool of evidence’ as practising astrologers. Recent Advances in Natal Astrology is a book written by some of those Astrologically trained scientists
Where astrologers in the Seventies and Eighties could still wield the argument that the scientists who rallied against astrology had very little knowledge of astrology and actually didn’t quite know what they were talking about, this doesn’t hold anymore. Experienced and well trained and informed astrologers are now scientifically testing astrology. Astrology in the Year Zero points this out. Rudolf Smit was the founder of the Dutch Professional Astrological Society and wrote a very positive book about astrology; that is, before his ‘conversion’. Mather was an autodidact and Geoffrey Dean founded the Federation of Australian Astrologers WA branch. Both Smit and Dean received astrological awards; the AMR (Astrological Monthly Review) Commemorative Bi-Centennial award for contributions to astrology, especially for their efforts in researching astrology. These awards are quite prestigious.
Again, Everett has a point that explains why these scientists, for all their astrological training and experience, have no bigger claim to ‘the’ truth, than the average astrologer. This has to do with what Everett calls first-order evidence and second-order evidence. “First-order evidence is whatever is available to an individual without dependence on the words of others. Whatever comes directly to me through my senses, memory and faculties of inference is my first-order pool of evidence. Second-order evidence is whatever one can access only indirectly, through reliance on the word of others. So if I hear someone say to me that it is raining in Paris, then I have first-order evidence that such-and-such a person has made the sound, ‘It is raining in Paris’, and I have second-order evidence that it is raining in Paris. One’s first-order beliefs are then those based on first-order evidence, and one’s second-order beliefs are those based to a significant extent on testimony. First- and second-order rationality may then be defined as the correct reliance on first- and second-order evidence to form first- and second-order beliefs.”
This argument can explain – perhaps to the amazement of scientists – why astrologers care so little about the results of statistical and other scientific research into astrology. The reason is simply that their astrological training, and further experience with doing astrological consultations, and all the experience gathered by any astrologer, is his/her first-order pool of evidence for the ‘truth’ of astrology. The astrologer sees, hears and lives – first hand – the way that astrology actually works. Statistics, for an astrologer, is probably never quite able to replace these first-order pools of astrological evidence; hence statistics are an alien, second-order pool of evidence for astrologers. The only reason an astrologer would perhaps change his mind about the truth of astrology on account of scientific evidence would be – according to Everett – if he thinks that the person or status of the scientist(s) in question – or his particular scientific bent or speciality – is authoritative to such an extent, that he believes him on his word; which makes this a second-order belief. order pool of evidence for an astrologer, even if it is wielded by a (former) astrologer. order pool of evidence, but this authority cannot be claimed by these scientists because they were once astrologers. Convincing is that pool of evidence you believe in; which you grant authority So, what happens if one starts to doubt astrology? For instance because of the much acclaimed ‘good consultation based on a wrong chart’, or the alleged unanimously negative results of statistical research into the claims of astrologers? Everett says that in case of a convincing pile of first-order evidence (i.e. my own experience as an astrologer) and a lot of conflicting second-order evidence (i.e. what these scientists say about astrology) it is at long last the individual who makes the choice which pool of evidence he accepts or ‘believes’, or grants most authority.
Everett: “Ironically, widespread attacks [like those of these scientists on the truth of astrology] on the rationality of [the astrological] faith will tend to push some people out of this uncertain state by second-order means alone [the ‘word of mouth’ of these scientists, their statistical evidence], while pushing others into it.” Accentuation by me. Rudolf Smit is, among others, an example of the first. Because of conflicting evidence he was pushed out of astrology. He started out as an amateur astronomer, who later became a zealous astrologer. Apparently some first-order pool of evidence (his own experience with astrology and consultations I gather) led him to strongly ‘believe’ in astrology; he wrote a jubilant book about it; founded the Dutch Professional Astrological Society, etc.. But certain experiences (‘a good consultation based upon a wrong chart’ perhaps?) and perhaps other doubts made him ‘choose’ the pool of evidence of the other belief – which where in the long run decisive for him – science and statistics. Perhaps Smit was conditioned by his (scientific) education and his hobby (astronomy) to ultimately give greater weight to this pool of evidence when faced with doubts about astrology (as we all have now and then I guess). Education might be an important factor in what one decides as being authoritative in the longer run.
Just as Smit is a good example of an astrologer who, because of widespread attacks, was driven out of astrology, I personally am an example of an astrologer who was driven further into it, by these widespread attacks. Confronted on the one hand with scientific and statistical criticism of the (modern) astrology I was practising at the time (as opposed to astrology as such), and on the other hand my own criticism of the (nearly) exclusive grounding of modern astrology on psychological (or rather psychoanalytical) theories alone, I became – according to many – a ‘fundamentalist’ astrologer. Calling myself a traditional or classical astrologer no less, founding my practice on what old astrological lore and doctrines the ‘churchfathers’ left to posterity (‘Saint’ Vettius Valens, ‘Saint’ Bonatus, ‘Saint’ William Lilly, ‘Saint’ Morinus et cetera). My ‘loss of faith’ in modern astrology as a philosophy, in modern astrological practice, modern astrological doctrines and latter day astrological authorities, at first made me doubt astrology in its entirety (just as seems to have been the case with Smit c.s.), but after that I gradually started reconsidering exactly what astrology is (and was) and began doing research on the history of astrology: I ended up granting authority to astrologers of old, and not to the scientists and their arguments. I was pushed further into astrology, not out of it.
According to Everett, this is just as rational a choice as Smit’s; we just took other pools of evidence as authoritative.
So what it comes down to is that in this kind of debate it’s the individual who ultimately makes a choice in what he or she considers to be logical, ‘rational’ or decisive which, in the case of first-order evidence, depends on direct personal experience (which is horoscopy for astrologers, statistics for scientists); and in case of second-order evidence (i.e. does the astrologer believe the conclusions and reasoning of the scientist, or vice versa?) this always depends on the authority one grants to the person or method and/or its status (‘science’; ‘statistics’; ‘astrology’; ‘horoscopy’). Once your mind is made up – perhaps anew – that is what you probably stick to. anew, whereby they tend to notice those facts and arguments which suit their case, and pass over inconvenient facts and arguments. As Elwell has shown, Dean c.s. are particularly apt, virulent and deceiving in this. Good consultations with wrong charts; good statistics with wrong conclusions
Scientists in fact do make ‘choices’ in what they consider authoritative evidence against astrology, and these choices are based on assumptions beforehand, not concluded after scientific testing or methods have lifted them above the everyday level of this ‘irrational belief in astrology’. This can perhaps be illustrated by the following. Smit/Dean c.s. often wield the argument that it is indeed strange that astrologers sometimes have excellent consultations based upon wrong charts: “How is it possible to make good delineations based upon wrong charts?” Smit askes himself. What is interesting however is that this (seemingly) didn’t prompt Smit to ask questions about – for example – the tenets of the (modern) astrology he was practising, or the way he was doing consultations (because, I’ve said it before: modern astrology has become a very fluent method of psychoanalytical discourse about life and individuals, a narrative technique, a new ‘talking cure’ that during a consultation can completely break away from any foundation in accurate chartfactors or analysis.) No, it prompted Smit to doubt astrology and horoscopy wholesale. For Smit as well as Dean these were experiences that finally made them decide to break with astrology, and/or to research it more strictly/severely. But, we could justifiably ask them: since it is proven that scientists have made (many) false assumptions and arrived at wrong conclusion based upon valid statistics, and conversely, have based decisive conclusions or hypotheses upon wrong or misinterpreted statistics, why then didn’t they forsake science as method of research? Why has the experience of poorly interpreted statistics (just as is the case with these ‘wrong charts’) which led to scientifically satisfying conclusions, not put them off science?
The answer must be that these scientists beforehand chose to ‘believe’ statistics (in this case, ‘over horoscopic evidence’); they grant (exclusive) authority to it and no longer to astrology. So, for them it’s only natural to continue to renounce astrology because it has ceased to hold any authority for them (if it really ever had any, that is). They’ve granted authority to the pool of evidence which is called statistics (or other scientific methods of research or reasoning) and they constantly level these methods against whatever arguments or horoscopic evidence astrologers have. This is why Smit c.s can constantly repeat his scientific-magical incantation: that “There is no scientific proof for Astrology”. But this may be read as: “For scientists, based upon their means of measuring and evaluating things, astrology has never been proven”. To which the following disclaimer can be added: “But this doesn’t actually mean anything, except when you are a scientist, and, if one is neither an astrologer nor a scientist, one can take this statement at face value and do with it as one pleases. Better not take this as ultimate truth on astrology. Please see your local astrologer for a second opinion”. So, based upon this argument – a wrong chart yielding good results – scientists cannot maintain that astrologers should therefore forsake astrology, or that astrology is defective and not reliable in what it claims to be able to do, because the same can be argued regarding science and (one of) its instrument: statistics.
Real astrology has yet to be researched
My second position is that “Real astrology has yet to be researched; i.e., it hasn’t been researched at all.”
“If we want to prove that astrology really works, we will have to begin by studying astrology anew.” Robert Hand
“Modern Western astrology is the product of the late 19th century rescension of the art. The astrology re-introduced to the west at that time was a considerably watered down version of the art adapted to what was then believed to be the exigencies of the contemporary education and economics. The astrological practice in the 17th century (prior to the great hiatus) was a more demanding science.”- Robert Zoller
The book, or rather the pamphlet and model for scientific research into astrology; Recent Advances, opens (literally on page zero) with the remark that: “In 1900 astrology was effectively medieval”. This remark of course is not correct at all, but the authors obviously consider this to be a self-evident disclaimer (as does many a modern astrologer), urging them to do definitive and final research on the supposed or acclaimed innovations and practices of modern astrologers from the period 1900 up until 1976. Their comments in “Astrology in the year Zero”, can be viewed as their latest update on the research broken of in 1976. And, as was to be expected in view of the partiality of this research group (the Dean-circus as Elwell calls it), there is little hope for astrology and astrologers, according to their (continued) findings. Now, a valid question to ask oneself is, what was it exactly that was researched by these scientists? The answer they themselves offer is: modern astrology, which is the ‘astrology after the deluge’ that Zoller refers to; the one that evolved ‘after the great hiatus’. So apparently, Recent Advances obviously limited its research of astrology to the 20th century reformulation and reinterpretation of its doctrine(s).
If one were to take this opening remark (“In 1900 astrology was effectively medieval”) as authoritative, or, if one were to grant authority to the scientific research it resulted in, this would actually underpin my second thesis, that real astrology has yet to be (scientifically) researched, which of course implies that I consider traditional astrology (pre 18th century) to be the real stuff. This is not the place to recollect everything that happened to astrology during the 19th and 20th centuries, nor is the criticism I now raise meant to deny or refute the positive effects of using modern counselling in unison with astrology to meet the needs of modern clientele during a consultation (needs which are often formulated by the astrologers rather than their clients). But there is indeed a need for reclaiming our astrological heritage, as was – and still is – done by Zoller, Schmidt, Hand and many others. I think it is a (very) necessary stage in re-valuing the actual know-how of astrology as a science (sorry scientists).
The reason for this is the simple fact that methods of judgement and delineation between modern and traditional astrology differ strongly, and this difference cannot be whitewashed by claiming that they are reflecting a necessary, conscious or positive updating of a depreciated …medieval version… of astrology. If this difference in methods and opinions in our art plays an important role in the way astrological indications are interpreted and conceptualised, then we’re back to the authority question as posed by Everett: which astrologers and astrological texts do we grant authority?
Traditional astrologers repeatedly point out the fact that modern astrology resembles her traditional roots and doctrines in almost nothing, especially regarding applied methods and techniques. There are some very fundamental and sometimes even disturbing differences in methods applied by ancients and moderns in locating specific significators for any given astrological subject. I always tell my students that the two things that differ mostly between modern and traditional astrology is, first, the methods of locating specific significators for any given subject; and second, the almost rigidly consistent way of judging, delineating and interpreting these significators once they’re found, to draw as realistic conclusions as are possible, as opposed to more symbolic speculation of all the things they might possibly mean. Which is of course saying that they differ completely.
An example of this is the way modern astrology tries to establish the distribution of the four elements and therefore what type the native is. This is, or should be, a very important procedure – especially for medical and Jungian astrologers – upon which, in case of the latter, rest some very basic assumptions regarding the ‘mode’ of interaction with, and contents of – the unconscious.. However, close examination of traditional texts on this procedure differ significantly from the way this is done nowadays.
The traditional method focuses on what could be called ‘the significators of character/personality or the individuals psyche’, which is always a limited number of planets, as opposed to most modern methods which use all the planets and the signs they are in, irrespective of their specific function in the fore lying horoscope. The most simplistic modern version of this procedure (there are others) is to simply count the number of planets in any given element and then grant the one which has the most ‘counters’ primacy over the other three. Now, granting modern planets Pluto, Uranus and Neptune an equally important role in this as the traditional planets, reflects perhaps the overbearing attention these new planets have gained, but remains a firm point of discussion.
As John Frawley has indicated, a comparison between modern and traditional methods reveals a telling difference in the case of Hitler; modern astrology would necessarily have to regard him, and interpret his character, as an ‘earth-type’; but traditional methods reveal he is strongly choleric. For Jung and his astrological descendants these two elements are literally opposites of each other. If fire is dominant, then earth needs must be the inferior i.e. the (more) unconscious function in his psychological make-up, all of which carries rather important implications regarding the contents of Hitler’s unconscious.
I do not know of any attempt to delineate Hitler’s temperament using this Astro-Jungian hypothesis, but I suspect such an analysis would succeed in convincingly ‘proving’ that Hitler was indeed a strong earth type, perhaps somewhere along the lines of: ‘by being so destructive (WW2, Blitzkrieg strategies), Hitler proved that he could not cope with his inferior fire-element (because of the many faster and therefore personal planets in earth signs, earth would strongly dominate as his superior function) and because he would by necessity need to repress all to overt expressions of this inferior function of fire (because, according to Jung, this is what we all do with the inferior function in order to prevent a difficult and disturbed adaptation to the world around us, which is the task of the superior function), it (the unconscious fire-element) could – and perhaps would – gain autonomy in his personal (or even his collective) unconscious, which might then result in destructive ‘outbursts’ of all this repressed fire into consciousness and reality’. No doubt Hitler’s health problems (body is matter = earth), his vegetarianism (meat is often seen as a typical food of the fire element in modern astrology, hence his aversion to it), the fact that the colour brown played such an interesting role in his life (born in Braunau, wearing a brown uniform all the time), would all be lined up as arguments signifying the strong domination of the earth element. Problem is however, that a lot of Hitler’s problems could just as easily be explained by earth being his inferior function.
Now I do not propose to challenge Jung’s theory here, but anyone can understand that for such important issues – someone’s psychological makeup – it is at least necessary to have (some sort of) a communis opinio, an agreement on how to correctly achieve a method of determining elementary type. If modern astrologers are capable of reformulating and interpreting Hitler’s biography so that it convincingly supports the idea that he was indeed an earth-type and not a choleric (as they are very well able to do), then there is something fundamentally wrong: either their method of determining the type is at fault; or they are not able to recognise these types in reality or in someone’s biography (and thus solely rely on Jung’s ideas and the astrological correlative thereof). The third reason is of course that astrology today is a fluent method of psychoanalytical and New Age discourse about life and individuals that does not necessarily have to rely on accurate analysis and evaluation of chart factors. And this difference – establishing the native’s type – is only one of the many differences that divide modern and traditional astrology. As shown, it is a very basic one. There are many, many more.
The question one has to ask – in view of Everett’s conclusion that in the case of conflicting evidence (Frawley’s case of Hitler, traditional astrological lore versus modern astrological lore) one chooses the persons and/or pools of evidence one regards as authoritative or convincing—is (and I state this in a rather black and white mode): given the differences in methods, tools and techniques, to what astrology and or astrologer(s) does one grant authority? To the ‘strongly watered down version’ of modern astrology, or to traditional astrologers who actually did live and work in the heydays of astrological science? Most modern astrologers have built their astrology on what has been proven to be an intensive, fragmented, and in some cases even wrong reconstruction of traditional astrology.
In view of the research in traditional astrology since the 1990’ies done by astrologers, the opening statement of Recent Advances that “In 1900 astrology was effectively medieval”, is not only demonstrably wrong, it also underpins the citations of Hand and Zoller. Because if astrology was indeed based on its medieval pedestal, perhaps then the research into the truth of astrology would have yielded other, and possibly more positive, results. But I do not expect scientists of the breed of Dean c.s. to acknowledge this. Their problems with astrology have to do with fundamental differences of opinion of what (a) ‘real’ science is. We should not let that be an obstacle in learning astrology.
I I thank Deborah Young for editing this article, if any mistakes are left, they are mine, not hers.
2 The rationality of science and the rationality of faith. The journal of PHILOSOPHY, volume XCVIII, number 1, January 2001; page 19-42.
3 Phillipson, Garry (2000). Astrology in the Year Zero. Flare Publications, London.
4 Astrologie en Wetenschap, lezingenbundel. Een uitgave van de Nederlandse Vereniging tot Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek van de Astrologie.
5 Frawley, John (2000) The Real Astrology. Apprentice Books, London, pgs. 185/186.
6 For some excellent responses to the scientists’ claims, the reader is wholeheartedly referred to two articles to be found on the website of Garry Phillipson (http://http://www.astrozero.co.uk). “The researchers researched: A reply to the cynics” by Dennis Elwell; and: “Prejudice in Astrological Research”, by Mike Harding. researchers researched: A reply to the cynics” by Dennis Elwell. Therefore I say ‘these scientists’ as opposed to scientists in general. assumptions a robot has to make (as do human beings) before it can even move or react to any input it gets. A robot rationally checking every sort of input before it reacted to it (the scientific ‘ideal’) didn’t move or visually ‘do’ anything; it just sat there rationally checking and rechecking all his input, which of course didn’t look very rational or intelligent at all. So much for pure rationality as the ultimate guideline of reasonable mankind or rationally functioning individuals. backed-up, an astrological consultation would indeed be very short. Somewhere along the lines of: “according to the placement of Mars in the first sector of your horoscope, you might be a good and perhaps successful athlete”, end of consultation. in the book. Setting aside his few admitted lapses, a process is at work within both sceptics and believers whereby they tend to notice those facts and arguments which suit their case, and pass over inconvenient facts and arguments. This has been called the hermeneutic circle, a self-reinforcing process in which we are all to some extent trapped. Alfred Adler called it ‘teleological apperception’, meaning that when we have an end in view, a commitment to some purpose, we unconsciously select what suits that purpose. Truth and objectivity become a secondary consideration, and we may unwittingly mislead others, as well as ourselves.” way astrology is used as a means of “talking” about individuals and their psyche. In this sense, astrology has become a method of psychoanalytical discourse about life and individuals, a narrative technique, a new ‘talking cure’.
We see this in the, already mentioned, expanding psychological verbalisation of astrological symbols which needs none of the more sophisticated classical methods of evaluating planets, signs and houses, but immediately starts discoursing about what a planet in a sign has to say about this or that inner ‘drive’. appreciate this side of modern astrological practice. They acknowledge and sometimes even applaud positive effects of astrological consultations, but according to them, we should not fool ourselves in believing this is somehow a validation of astrology. This is a standard line for them, it’s always something else that’s working here, producing these positive results, it never is astrology. This is the equivalent of saying: “Sorry, your rabbit’s dead, but hey, you can still play with it!” act as functions of the psyche. They can be defined as separate functions because, again according to Jung, they ‘cannot be reduced to each other’. The four functions: the intuitive function (‘our’ fire), the sensory function (earth) and thinking (air) and feeling (water), can be divided into two groups; rational functions and irrational functions. Contrary to what one might suspect Jung calls thinking and feeling the ‘rational’ functions, and intuition and sensation ‘irrational’.
Rational meaning here that these elements/functions place a ‘barrier’ (or norm) between the impressions they receive from the outside world (which is why they are the rational functions, because this implies a more or less conscious act, although not necessarily perceived as one), as opposed to intuition and sensation, which rely on totally unrestrained and uninterrupted impression of input from the outside world, without a conscious ‘barrier’. The two functions/elements of each group are opposed to each other; the intuitive function (fire) is the exact opposite of the sensory function (earth), and the same for thinking (air) and feeling (water); they exclude each other. So the process or function of feeling interrupts the process of function of thinking, the same goes for intuition and sensation. Now, according to Jung, what happens to us as individuals when we are young is, that one of these functions gains supremacy over the other three.
The stronger function is the one the individual uses (mainly) to interpret, react to, and understand his environment. We adapt to our environment by means of this function and therefore it is an important part of our psychological make-up and inventory, our consciousness and our ego. This function becomes the most ‘socialized’, and therefore most civilized, function, because it is the function that is best ‘trained’ in our everyday social life, which, for the romantic and revolutionary Jung, was also equivalent to a somewhat boring bourgeois mentality. Jung calls it the superior function. Now, because of the incompatibility of the superior function with it’s opposite of the same category (i.e. his rational or irrational partner), this (other) function regresses into the unconscious.
What happens to this ‘inferior’ function is, that it not only is the gateway to the (personal) unconscious, but can also strongly disrupt the superior function because it is the less adapted function. Because of this ‘less socialized’ nature of this inferior function it can, on the one hand, play a very significant role in revitalizing the conscious part of our psyche (in the opinion of Jung-the-romantic) by interrupting an all to rigorous adaptation to the outside world (which appealed to Jung-the-Nietzschean-revolutionary). On the other hand, this can also be exactly the problem with the inferior function, because these interruptions can actually destroy our consciousness and put us in a deep crisis (which was the concern of Jung-the-psychologist) because it can destroy (parts) of our consciousness, self-image and our ego. Ultimately, with the passing of time, as we grow as individuals and mature, all four of these functions should (ideally) be put into some kind of balance, granting superiority to neither of them, although this can be quite a difficult task. – somewhat different – version of this can be reconstructed from a text from Avraham Ibn-Ezra as given by Zoller in his DMA course (which I did for my Magazine “Anima Astrologiæ” issue 3 july 2001); this is more or less the same method as Zoller uses I’m told. Frawley’s method and Ezra’s agreed in the case of Hilter.