Optimum place for astrology
Abstract -- Science = observation and testing, astrology = anything goes, with no overlap. The continuing popularity of astrology suggests that it must provide a worthwhile service to clients. But hundreds of empirical studies have found nothing that is commensurate with its claims. Nor have astrologers made any attempt at self-criticism or the attainment of consistency. So astrology is not entitled to be seen as a source of knowledge, only as a tool for helping introspection and therapy by conversation. Reverting to a declared art form, ie to a non-scientific activity, may be the only valid way ahead for astrology, where the birth chart is accepted simply as a tool for channeling wisdom from astrologer to client.
Nevertheless Campion holds that the situation depends on how astrology and science are defined, and I agree. In what follows I look at the difference between science and astrology to see if this can identify an optimum place in the world for astrology. I start with science.
This knowledge is not any old knowledge but a sweeping system of interlinked knowledge that is consistent from one end to the other. For example it would be unacceptable if our knowledge of how atoms behave in chemistry was inconsistent with how they behave in physics.
As more and more knowledge is incorporated into the system, doubtful inconsistencies may be rightly ignored because science is too soundly based to justify chasing anything entirely speculative. But if the inconsistencies are themselves soundly based, as they were for the perihelion advance of Mercury, then in due course science shifts to accommodate them, in this case from Newton to Einstein.
Limitations of Science
So the limitations are straightforward -- if no possible observation could rule out a particular claim, the claim is untestable and science is irrelevant. As is the claim in the first place -- if nothing can show it is wrong, then by the same token nothing can show it is right.
Science of course is subject to greed, jealousy and politics like any other human activity. But the over-riding insistence that issues be decided by careful testing means that scientific knowledge is ultimately self-correcting. It may take years or decades, but ultimately errors in science do not survive. How does astrology compare?
Campion himself prefers (4). And its merits are obvious -- by confining itself to interpretation, astrology is elevated above any criticism based on grubby empiricism. (I come back to this point later). But rather than trying to define science and astrology in absolute terms, it seems better to consider what distinguishes one from the other.
Another possibility is level -- science is material stuff, astrology is soul stuff. This means that souls are a necessary component of astrology, and that astrology is essentially a religion. Such ideas would certainly distinguish astrology from science, but many (if not most) astrologers including Campion would disagree that astrology is essentially a religion. Areas of dispute can hardly form the basis for reliable distinction.
Note that this difference is strictly one of attitude towards testing. So we cannot say that astrology is scientific because it uses a science-based ephemeris, any more than a book is scientific because it uses a science-based printing technology. Nor can we say that astrology is a science because both use symbols, albeit in different ways, namely qualitatively (JU = expansiveness) vs quantitatively (r = correlation coefficient). What we can say is that astrology's attitude towards testing means it has no resources by which error could be detected.
So science = testing and observation, astrology = anything goes, and there is no real overlap. For convenience let me now define art as any directed activity not a science, for example the activity of drawing and painting. (Do not confuse this with other definitions of art such as art = art objects eg paintings, or art = the expression of feeling, or art = a special skill eg the art of conversation; nor with craft, the skilled making of objects eg jewellery; the whole point of my choosing this definition is that it excludes science.) We can now say that astrology is entirely an art as defined above, and entirely not a science. Which is consistent with Campion's preferred definition of astrology as a humanity (an art that humanises).
Implications of an art form
Note the problem: Without a sound scientific basis, which astrology is now by definition incapable of having, nobody can legitimately claim that Jupiter indicates anything. All that could be said is something like "the ancient Greeks thought that Jupiter indicates expansiveness, but nobody knows if this is actually true." Anything else would turn astrology into a pseudoscience -- an art form falsely posing as a science, as when the testing of testable claims is rejected or ignored.
Straddling the divide
Developing astro-art forms
As in any other art form, the challenge is to evaluate different ideas for their appeal to clients. This is an interesting challenge because objective tests are of little use in a situation where subjective feelings are the sole arbiter. Good astro-art is what clients like, period. But the challenge is not new. Astrologers have long been used to evaluating ideas in such terms, usually expressed indirectly such as compliance with tradition (recall that Bradley quote). But there is now more to it than meets the eye, as explained next.
Survival of astro-art
Arguably even better (and this is the point) might be tools scientifically designed to help introspection and therapy by conversation. Such tools already exist and can be anything from a list of topics to elaborate pictures, all of them carefully tested for effectiveness. This might be preferred to astrological symbolism by a future generation better acquainted with astrology's lack of empirical support. In other words astro-art might in due course have the same fate as phreno-art. Let me explain.
Might astro-art have the same fate as phreno-art?
The merit of phreno-art lies in its "fascinating potential for aiding self-realisation ... its antiquity, discipline and deliberate idealism towards self-perfection" (p.104). Indeed, phreno-artists hold that it is useful in almost every situation. Thus it can give "direction to self-awareness and meaning to life. ... It can help to evaluate such problems as bringing up children, choosing a career, a partner in life, assessing incompatibility and confusion, but above all it is for the self" (p.100). It could be astrologers describing astrology.
The move to phreno-art was paved with good intentions. But a plethora of more scientific approaches to self-awareness (see any bookshop) killed it. Phrenology's once overwhelming charm was suddenly not enough. The move lost out to ideas that had greater appeal and effectiveness. Might the same happen to astrology? Clearly it is unlikely to happen overnight, any more than it happened to phrenology overnight. But as the decades pass, as people become aware of empirical findings that were unavailable to their parents, it could happen. However, if astrology encompasses ancient wisdom about the human condition that science does not, then who knows?