Rationalism and Damned Facts

To be thought “rational” is considered the ultimate good.  If you are “irrational” you are considered wrong, not worthy of mature conversation.   Rationalism is considered a product of the Enlightenment which has changed our politics and made civilization more sane.  To reject the learning of the Enlightenment is considered just wrong.  Rationalism is ruled by the planet Uranus.  Considered a higher octave of Mercury, it was discovered in 1781, during the Enlightenment, and the first planet discovered in modern times.  It is not normally visible without a telescope.  The previous years, in Europe the Dark Ages, were a product of Neptune: irrationality.  While the Europeans were suffering under the so-called Dark Ages, considered the period between the Fall of Rome, also rational, and the Renaissance, other civilizations, such as those in Persia, India, and China, were not suffering under a Dark Age and continued to be rational, but they still had a element of irrationality.  But in the 1000 years preceding the Sixteenth Century, there was much “irrationality”  – symbolized by Neptune – sweeping the Western World, while much of the rest of the planet still adhered to some measure of Rationality, thus keeping that alive while it was hidden in the West.

But rationality in the West (re)starts in the Sixteenth Century.  The Polish mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus is considered a father of modern science with his theory of the heliocentric solar system that was published at his death in 1543.  But the idea did not catch on for fifty years, partly since he went against the popular notions of how the Universe worked as put forth by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, and also against the teachings of the Catholic Church. This breakthrough started with the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the late Sixteenth Century.

Five men are considered the fathers of modern science: Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johann Kepler, Galileo, and Newton.  The first four were astrologers (but many like to claim that they didn’t believe the stuff, but merely had to make a living) and Newton was an alchemist. And in fact if you examine the  early writings in the scientific community there is plenty of room for “non-rational” ideas.  It was only in the Eighteenth Century that a more orthodox position was developed.

The discovery of the first planet by scientific means – a telescope – was Uranus in 1781  by amateur astronomer William Hershel.  Below is the chart for that discovery on March 13, 1781.  Interestingly, the  planet Uranus in late Gemini is square the Sun, representing the day of discovery.  One reason Uranus is associated with Revolution is that it was discovered between the American and the French Revolutions.  Uranus also represents Rationalism, and by the time of its discovery, rationalism had come to dominate the Western world.  One symbol of this increasing dominance of rationalism was shown by the French philosopher Rene Descartes, who famously said “I think, therefore I am” and gave us Cartesian mathematics and a Cartesian world-view.  Thus began the rise to dominate the world of a more materialist, mechanistic way of thinking.  The world has been disenchanted (entzauberung in the original German), as German sociologist Mex  Weber famously suggested, and it is leading to our downfall.  We need to become more irrational, to re-enchant the world.  This, I believe, will be a project of the next 500 years.



Discovery of Uranus

What I contend is that the last 500 years in the Western World has seen increasing rationality, and that trend is now over.  What we must do is combine the rationality  of Uranus and the irrationally of Neptune into a synthesis.  We can see how the increasing rationality of the last 500 years has come close to destroying the Earth, and attempts to offer a totally rational solution  to these crises will only fail, party because the rational attempt to reduce the crises to a simple, rational solution is irrational.  As mentioned, we now live in a totally disenchanted world, and as the rulers become increasingly technocratic  and machines of all kinds more dominate the world, this trend has become overwhelming.  Nature is something that people in the West, and most assuredly the United States, see only on their screens, a mode becoming more dominant since the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of the early Nineties, to be discussed more at a future date.  Extreme rationalism is killing us all.

There are many facts out in the field which are what the American writer of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century Charles Fort called “damned facts” and he collected many of them in his books, one of which is called The Book of the Damned.  Damned facts are those that can not be explained by Rational means, they are thus arational.  There are many such events, and there are books and television shows that collect such damned facts, those that can not be explained by science. As far as this blog is concerned, the most important and obvious damned fact is astrology.  Much as we want to believe it, astrology can not be explained by science as it is presently constructed.  Thus, according to many scientists, astrology can not be true.  They occasionally sign letters condemning the belief in astrology as bunk.  When once asked to sign such a letter, Carl Sagan refused because he had not studied astrology.  Would it be that others were so honest.  Currently, it appears scientists are just ignoring astrology, hoping that it will go away.

Scientists consistently disbelieve – that is a mild term for it – in astrology.  I think part of this strong feeling is their realization that if astrology were true, the whole nature of the Universe, something they believe strongly in, would be undermined.   Astrology can not possibly be true in the Universe that they know.  I think that in this way they are more realistic that the astrologers who believe that astrology is a science in the narrow terms that are used today, and that eventually Science will recognize that.  They, the astrologers, don’t realize that astrology strongly suggests that the Universe is much stranger that we know, and perhaps is much stranger that we can know.  There is a new paradigm out there to be discovered, but as Thomas Kuhn famously suggested in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, this new paradigm won’t be accepted until the believers in the old paradigm die off.

Probably the most statistically convincing display of the meaning of the planets in astrological terms was demonstrated by research and a series of books by the husband and wife team of Michel and Francoise  Gauguelin in the Fifties and Sixties.  (Full disclosure:   I once took a course in statistics from Francoise). The full results can be found in their books (such as Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior) or online sources.  Essentially what they found was there was a Mars, Jupiter, Moon, and Saturn effect determined by the position of one of these planets in the birth charts of prominent individuals.  These statisticians lived in Europe, and many of those countries have better and longer recorded birth times than does the United States; the Gauquelins would spend their vacations gathering birth data and constructing birth charts.  They found that individuals prominent in certain fields tended to have certain planets placed in certain locations – such as just above the Ascendant – much great than by chance.  While in most experiments if something happens that is likely by chance only 1% of the time, that occurrence is not considered random but connected to something else; in the Gauquelin research, they found the likelihood of their result being by chance were 1 million to one or smaller.

This was very controversial, especially to scientists, since it proves by statistics something that is impossible, and many attempts were made to prove the Gauquelin results wrong.  One famous case was called “(S)tar Baby” wherein scientists were caught fudging the results to make the Gauquelins look bad.

They found a “Mars Effect” for soldiers and athletes, and in fact both those types of people use Mars – directed energy –- more than your average individuals.  The Jupiter effect was found in  politicians and actors, both of which need to be public and extroverted (Ronald Reagan shows the Jupiter effect), and a Saturn effect was found in scientists;  in fact, many scientists, more than average, are notoriously Saturnine, which may be read as introverted, not publicly effervescence, sort of the opposite of Jupiter; and the Moon was found prominent in writers and poets.

A prominent Mars in athletes and soldiers certainly corresponds to the astrological symbolism of the planet Mars in the birth-chart.  And astrologer/composer Gustav Holst called the section of his work The Planets about Mars “The Bringer of War”.  And this meaning of the planet Mars derives from the mythological meaning of the Roman God Mars.  And this no doubt derives from the fact that Mars is a red planet, and red was the color of blood.  There is no possible way that this connection can be explained by any possible scientific theory.  It is totally impossible.  But as was said in a much different context, by someone who was also an astrologer – though this fact is often covered up – “and still it moves”, or if you prefer the original Italian, eppur si muove.

This impossible association must be rejected.  But there is a movement among some to expand the scientific field with ideas from ancient mysticism.  One of the first books to explore to topic after the War was The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra, first published in 1975.  These ideas were an outgrowth of the Sixties – see How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser for details  about the beginnings of this movement.  Many other people have explored the topic since then, often combining the ideas of quantum mechanics with mysticism and ancient esoteric beliefs.  But astrology seems the clearest example that the Universe works in ways beyond what is assumed by the modern belief system, which I am calling Rationalism.  Thus it must be  rejected as irrational.