Why Astrology is Not a Science
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Providing a Context for My Views
Achieving scientific validation is the gold standard in a world that is dominated by science. But entry to this exclusive club has its requirements and its price. Before we commit ourselves to this vision of our future, we should first carefully consider whether or not astrology can legitimately be called a science, and secondly, how the practice of astrology as we know it will be distorted if we insist on squeezing it into a scientific mold.
These are very large issues. They have been debated within and outside the astrological community at least since the 17th century, and they have been hotly debated in various ISAR-related forums. In my experience, the two camps – those who think astrology is a science and those who think it isn’t – are fairly well entrenched. You can tell by the title of this article, which camp I am in. I have written extensively about my views in the ISAR e-letter and a previous article in The International Astrologer (1), presented a talk at the recent ISAR conference in Chicago (August, 2009), and devoted over 200 pages of my book, The Seven Gates of Soul: Reclaiming the Poetry of Everyday Life to this topic. In this article, I wish to summarize the most important points I’ve made in these various forums, and add a few new insights.
To place my views in some perspective, it is useful to know that before I began studying astrology, nearly 40 years ago, I was a chemistry major at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a college specifically oriented toward training scientists and engineers. In my rigorous study of the theory and practice of science, and later in graduate school working toward my Master’s degree in Marriage, Family & Child Counseling, I became acutely aware of the limitations of science in addressing both the nature of reality and matters of human psychology. I was – for a short time – an insider, studying to become a scientist. So my views are rooted in what I believe was a sincere effort to understand the discipline I later came to reject as a suitable paradigm for the work that I do.
I am not anti-science. I think science has its place in the study of the material world. But I think science oversteps its bounds in attempting to study the human psyche and in its application to many of the so-called soft sciences – like psychology, sociology, anthropology, and history – which I consider a sort of track record of the evolution of collective psychology. To the extent that we apply ourselves as astrologers to the study of these fields, I also think science is a poor mold in which to cast ourselves. In this blog series I would like to tell you why.
(1) Landwehr, Joe. “On the Use of Science to Measure Astrological Theory.” ISAR International Astrologer, Aries, 2007 Issue, pp. 48-53.
The next post in this series is Two Problems With Scientific Validation.
To read more blog posts, go here.