Philosophy and Astrology
A collection of articles whose roots are planted in the areas where the astrological and the philosophical overlap is listed below. The list includes brief descriptions of the articles' contents. A simpler list can be found in the column on the left.
A few introductory comments
My definition of 'philosophical' is quite broad and bleeds across into regions which in other circles would have their own domains. Also, the dominant philosophy on show in my own, which of course betrays many influences.
I am sceptical about rationalism and objectivism. This is partly because of my experience as a scientist, and partly out of what to me seems like common sense. I assume imagination and other non-rational cognitive faculties function alongside reason in helping to map reality, and that there will always be a gap between the maps and the reality itself. I conceive of truths in terms of their functional value rather than in absolute terms.
At the same time, I'm happy enough to accept facts. I have no problem with the fact that water runs down hill. What I might question is the nitty gritty details about how this is modelled. The concept of gravity obviously has a very high truth value. The equations work. On the other hand, it has become reified (thingified) as a force. No one knows how this force works. It's existence is postulated and taken for granted. And why not? Gravity never let's us down(!) - the equations always work. The fact of the matter is though that gravity remains an occult, invisible and mysterious force. And as long as this remains the case, I feel no urgency about having to explain how astrology works. I'm happy for that to remain a mystery.
Astrology represents efforts to model an experiential phenomenon - the perception of order and pattern in the experience of change. Astrology is not the phenomenon itself. All the various forms astrology has taken on a personal and collective level are relative and subjective. In the absence of any deep understanding of the processes involved, the main question remains whether or not the models have any functional value in terms of practical application. Its truth may not carry as much weight as gravity, but that is to be expected as its subject matter is somewhat more rarified than apples falling off trees.
Because I assess the value of astrology in terms of its functional application, my attitude to astrology is solidly 'astrologer centred'. Astrology has been created by astrologers and is only evident because of the practice of astrologers. In my opinion it is absurd to try and understand astrological processes without taking this into account. What exactly is going on when an astrologer interprets a horoscope? The answer to this question will not be found by looking at the stars.
Astrology and Science - a relationship in transition
This three part essay was originally delivered as a talk at the Irish Astrological Association conference in May 1996. It was subsequently published in Réalta, vol.3, no.3 in August of the same year.
Astrology, Patriarchy and Postmodernism 1999
This article suggests that the hurdles facing astrology will only be overcome by re-framing it in terms which make sense to the contemporary imagination. Central to this argument is the notion that the forms which astrology takes are inevitably culturally determined. Astrology as we recognise it emerged in the pre-modern era. The forms it took were incompatible with the dominant scientific world view which characterised the modern era from its beginnings in the 17th century. Trying to 'fit' astrology into a classically modern mould is a fruitless task, as the essence of modernity is based on modelling reality in terms of quantity, materiality and objectivity. In the last 20 years or so, the climate has changed. The post-modern perspective is potentially less refractory to astrology. But in order to take advantage of this, astrologers need to break free from patriarchal roots and reconsider their subject in the light of new understandings.
On the Seed Metaphor by Juan Revilla 2002
In this article, Juan discusses the metaphor of the seed and the role it plays (often unconsciously) in the way astrologers conceptualise horoscopes as a blueprint of potentialities inherent at birth. He points out some of the problems associated with this metaphorical framing and how its continued use helps to maintain misperceptions about astrology's nature.
On the nature of astrology 1999
A short article extracted from a contribution I made to an online astrology discussion group. It describes some major features of my astrological perspective in a nutshell.