Astrology: If Not Science, Then What?
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To summarize – astrology is not a science because:
1) Our own historical development is not that of a science.
2) Astrology does not yield objective truth.
3) Its conclusions are context-dependent, inconsistent from one context to the next and not verifiable by research demanding consensus and replicability.
4) Its conclusions are derived through a wide range of diverse techniques and approaches to astrology that differ widely from astrologer to astrologer.
5) Its conclusions are derived, not through empirical observation alone, but through the participation of subject and object in a mutual dialogue.
6) Its conclusions assume the possibility of meaning and purpose, while science disavows these possibilities and is not prepared to discuss them.
7) Astrology ascribes a qualitative dimension to time, which is not acknowledged by science.
8) Astrology has no cogent, testable mechanism to explain how it works; nor has any such theory ever been tested by the rigorous standards demanded by science.
If Not Science, Then What?
So, if astrology is not a science, then what is it? My contention is that it functions best as a language of symbolism, describing the relationship between celestial patterns and earthly phenomena in a poetic way. This is a language that I call astropoetics. Such a language is subjective – that is to say, used differently by each person using it. It is applied liberally – in a wide variety of ways, limited only by the imagination of the individual astrologer, the strictures of syntax, grammar, and symbolic logic native to astrology, and the reality check of the person for whom a chart is read. It is sensitive to the context in which it is being used, just as any language would be. It is a participatory experience of revelation through symbol amplification in dialogue. It is meaningful in the same way that poetry is meaningful, that is to say, it describes whatever it addresses through simile, allusion, and metaphor. It is a set of linguistic tools for contemplation of a process in cyclical time. How does it work? In the same way that language works – according to consistent rules of syntax and grammar and symbolic logic – applied with nuance and supplemental knowledge in a given context.
As the father of modern psychological astrology Dane Rudhyar once said, “Astrology is fundamentally the algebra of life . . . Its applications are as numerous as the types of life it coordinates, integrates, and to which it gives the significance of order” (1). If this is true, then astrology potentially bears the same linguistic relationship to the qualitative measure of a meaningful cosmos infused with consciousness as the language of mathematics bears to the empirical, material world that science quantifies. Wouldn’t it be better to cultivate this unique potential than to restrict ourselves to a more limited scientific paradigm that precludes its cultivation?
(1) Rudhyar, Dane. The Astrology of Personality. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970, p. 18.
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