Most astrologers do not seem to care about consistency in the systems they use, if only because most of them have either no idea of the technical details or of the philosophy behind them.
Only a few schools in astrology Ebertin, Hamburg, Ram, etc know exactly what they are doing and hence reject systems that do not confirm with their ideas. As many astrologers see it, astrology is a pragmatic business. As long as it seems to work then they do not worry about the absence of consistency in techniques, philosophy, etc.
West attempts to bypass the problem of how the astrological relationships could have been determined by pointing in another direction. He agrees that a complex system such as astrology could not have been built on observations but argues that this similarly holds for other bodies of ideas: "this system astrology No amount of aimless observation, no matter how accurate or painstaking, could develop willy-nilly into such an elegant and internally consistent system.
In the realm of man, nothing evolves mindlessly. No coherent body of knowledge -- such as astrology -- simply accumulates, taking form as it goes" p. However, astrology is not a coherent body of knowledge but a body of ideas, and ideas do not have to be true to be coherent eg Tolkien's world, Star Trek, etc. Also, the historical inconsistencies and differences among astrological systems throughout the world show that astrology is not the generic internally coherent system that West makes it out to be.
Furthermore, bodies of knowledge in the social and natural sciences have theoretical conceptual structures that have become more refined over time in response to research findings which, in turn, direct and facilitate research Whitt In contrast, astrology has shown no progress in solving its empirical and conceptual problems. Dane Rudhyar began the move in the United States away from traditional ideas.
In their psychological orientation Rudhyar and Perry overlap, the main difference being that Rudhyar is more inclined to Eastern mysticism and religious concepts. A critical examination of Rudhyar's astrology can be found in Kelly and Krutzen A thorough consideration of the development of psychological astrology in the early twentieth century would also acknowledge the theosophist ideas injected by the British astrologer Alan Leo and the American astrologer Marc Edmund Jones Zoller Astrologers are forever trying to increase the surface plausibility of astrology by associating it with the latest theories that have caught the public imagination.
So Blumenthal , p.
Townley informs us that "the more advanced areas of systems mathematics [complexity theory, information theory] and neuroscience [could] be very friendly to the type of structural thinking that the best of astrology has to offer and to which astrology could make important contributions" p.
Jewsbury notes how Rupert Sheldrakes principle of formative causation "should remove the objection that astrology is impossible", adding in an interesting circularity that "astrology itself is a further pointer to its truth". Astrologers just assert, without providing details, that Bell's theorem, Bohm's holonomic theory of quantum mechanics, the Anthropic Principle, and purposive evolution are, both all compatible with each other, and support the principles upon which astrology is based.
A negative feature of these astrologers' writings is their penchant to be crucially vague at critical points. We are not provided with specifics of how these juxtapositions will take place. We are only given promissory notes. It is never made clear how the new physics and other modern disciplines can provide support for the supposition that specific planetary configurations can symbolize fundamental human needs, or motivational drives eg. How Sun square Mars symbolizes overall strength and vigor in the personality [See Stengler , for critical comments on misinterpretations of Quantum Mechanics by advocates of New Age claims, and Guttman for what he sees as Capra's naive and misleading writings].
Further, such modern approaches in physics do not explain why the planetary positions of a moment in the past birth describe the supposedly continuing nature of a person in the present. And what about the "birth" of a country, a company, a resolution, a domicile, and so on, all of which astrologers confidently take as having their own natal charts? Jones The astrologer Cornelius has pointed out that this is an old game that astrologers have always played, namely that astrology has survived by disguising itself as part of the science and philosophy of each particular time period.
The modern disguise being, according to Cornelius, depth psychology Jungian archetype psychoanalysis and modern physics. Apart from giving the impression that modern theories in physics hold the key to astrological explanation, many astrologers mix in modern theorizing in the social and biological sciences with their symbolic interpretations, creating a very uneasy alliance. Since the theories in the social sciences change in response to new discoveries and evidence, it is interesting how easily astrologers relate planetary conjunctions with completely different findings and theories over time.
For example, Banfield in "The Astrology of Depression" refers to findings in the psychological literature that there may be a link between "adult depression and being hypersensitive, shy, introverted, and timid when young. For example, "Astrological indicators for sensitivity and vulnerability are linked to a strong natal emphasis on the receptive planets On the other hand, Angelfire considers depression in terms of excessive Saturn and has no need of such theorizing. So we find some astrologers relating planetary configurations to psychological theorizing and others ignoring such findings.
This adds further chaos to the already bloated set of astrological techniques and consequent disorder in the entire field. We have also heard it all before. In the past, the same confidence was expressed by astrologers with every prominent theory of the period.
The two millennia of failures provides some good inductive grounds for believing that the confidence of present-day astrologers is as misplaced as that of their predecessors. Such represents the triumph of hope over experience. More recently astrologer Ken McRitchie has made an attempt to provide academics with a theory to explain why astrology works. He identifies key psychological concepts such as "values", "skills", "urges", and "development", casts around for a classification scheme whose numbers are a convenient match to astrology eg a classification of urges into ten categories that numerically match the ten planets , and proceeds from there.
Along the way he makes key statements that are glaringly wrong, for example "Few [matching] tests have been conducted" p. Ironically he stresses that his book is "without hypotheses or testing" p. Precisely the things astrology does not need, nor the things that would satisfy academic demands for a theory. We are told that "astrology was never disproven by the methods of science. Rather, its invalidity was a presupposition.
However, in the history of science and ideas, theories and paradigms do not have to be disproven to be replaced or superceded. Both Popper and Kuhn two prominent philosophers of science in the 20th century were aware that astrology was not disproven. Popper , argued that, on the contrary, astrologers go out of their way to develop immunizing strategies to make sure that no evidence will ever seriously threaten their theory.
Their one-size-fits-all theories are so elastic that any disconfirming evidence can be explained away. Kuhn a,b , along related lines, contended that astrology fails because practitioners did not and do not learn from failures. They have not set up reliable procedures to determine the causes of mistakes, learn from them, and improve their theories.
While astrologers have acquired multiple outs for failures they do not have agreed means of reducing these alternative explanations of failure and identifying specific astrological claims that need rejection or revision. We might also point out that the views of astrologers in the medieval and middle ages which are often at variance with much present day practice have also not been disproved by present day astrologers eg see Crane for a review of such approaches in medieval times.
Rather, such views are just out of fashion in the astrological community. One interesting example is the doctrine of sect, where charts of daytime and nighttime births are read differently Hand In this approach, the planets change their meanings in day and night charts, which would seem to mean that on average the world's astrologers must be getting it wrong half the time.
Why don't they notice? Astrologers could get around this problem by having astrological symbolism restrict itself to the basics of human nature as claimed by bio-psychological researchers and psychometricians. This would turn astrology into a science that could be investigated by the quantitative methods used in the social and life sciences. This does not seem, however, a path most astrologers seem willing to pursue. A similar situation arises in counselling and psychotherapy.
However, an examination of astrology books compared with clinical and counselling texts show important differences. The theories in psychology also do not require the extravagant and problematic transcendental and supernatural assumptions that underlay astrology.
Astrology complicates our view of the universe without providing an increase in understanding. Astrologers often claim, in a loose, unsystematic way, that astrology can arrive at a quicker, in-depth understanding of a person than can psychologists. So Tyl in Phillipson , p. First of all, the same stories occur in psychology, when clients change to a therapist with a different orientation, so the situation is hardly unique to astrology.
It often happens within astrology itself when clients consult a different astrologer. Second, what can we infer from this? Not much without complete transcripts of the interviews. Third, such stories create other problems for astrology, since the same situation can arise when wrong birth information is used. She judged my interpretation as the most adequate of all, and showed me for comparison the work of my colleagues. I thus realized that I had made an error of 20 years on her birth date" p.
The seductive phrase "experiential evidence" or "clinical evidence" is problematic. Practitioners of psychological approaches Perry disavows eg Skinnerian behaviourism, orthodox Freudian psychoanalysis and the many competing schools of astrology in both the East and West, many of whom would contest Perry's approach, all cite testimonial evidence and case studies in support. But if we can all cite experiential evidence for our positions, it can hardly, by itself distinguish the good from the bad, the better theory from the worse.
As Meehl points out:. Despite their scholarly efforts, we know today there are no persons who have made a solemn pact with Satan and thereby gained preternatural powers. If asked to support their theoretical system and the technical procedures warranted by it, [they] would doubtless have invoked the medieval equivalent of "clinical experience" , p. A salutary lesson here is provided by other non-mainstream approaches such as phrenology, graphology handwriting analysis , and palmistry which cover the same ground as psychological astrology.
Phrenology was immensely popular in the nineteenth century and both phrenologists and their clients were very satisfied with phrenological readings. Graphology has been around for some centuries and is still very popular. It is instructive to compare the following endorsements of psychological astrology, phrenology, graphology, and palm reading:.
To the trained eye it lays open your secret mind. Every whirl or line you pen exposes your true character and personality" Marne , p. Self-fulfilment -- travel, life experience, spiritual development" Wilson , pp.
Astrology is only one of a very large number of contenders, past and present , which rely on magical thinking and purport to yield knowledge unattainable by materialistic science. No plausible reasons have been provided that all of these extra-science contenders are interconnected, or mutually supporting Loptson Planets or head-bumps or palms or handwriting, at least one of them is redundant. Astrology is in the unenviable position of having to show either that it provides genuine insight into areas not covered by the social sciences and related disciplines, or to show that it can meliorate our understanding in the same domains covered by contemporary psychological and sociological theories.
Astrologers have to show they can provide insight or benefits beyond those provided by non-astrological theories. The astrologer Pottenger said "Opponents of astrology like to quote 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof' without giving any proof that 'as above so below' is an extraordinary claim. It is only extraordinary in some philosophies, especially materialistic frameworks which deny meaning" p.
As it stands, what Pottenger stated is trivially true. No matter what is postulated barring logical impossibilities , it will always be more "plausible" within some worldview s than others. For example, fairy bubbles, goblins, and guardian angels are extraordinary claims in materialistic conceptions of the world and perhaps many others as well.
That they are more plausible in worldviews based on say Santa Claus or Peter Pan does not provide any reason to believe in their existence.