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Astrology, Science and Culture
Astrology, Science and Culture: Pulling Down the Moon By Roy Willis and Patrick Curry. Berg, Oxford 2004. ISBN 1-85973-687-4. 170 pages including bibliography and index. £15.99 paperback.
Abstract -- This is a highly unreadable book. Both authors are postmodernists, and they seem to want to outdo each other in being impenetrable. They claim that the only real astrology is horary astrology, or divination, which fills the world with magic and meaning. In real astrology the world is filled with gods (ie planets), spirits, and magic that our minds can become attuned to. It is a form of religion that brings back mystery into our lives and makes the world seem wonderfully meaningful. Like any other religion, real astrology values mystery (enchantment) before concrete knowledge (disenchantment), and does not need to be true. Although the same conclusion had already been reached by empirical research, the authors dismiss empirical findings and contrary views (even astrological ones) out of hand, so readers never get an impartial overview. The authors never examine an actual study or finding or the various empirical approaches. They never examine how a chart is prepared and interpreted. They never give you a feel for what divinatory success means, or how frequent it is. The result is like conducting a war game out of sight of practicalities. The arguments when stripped of their protective fog of philosophyspeak are often ludicrous, as when the inability of science to determine absolute truth is quoted as a reason for dismissing the idea that we can tell when an astrology reading is wrong. Ultimately the book is futile because the authors dismiss science as "just one of a plurality of mythological narratives", just as their own view is. So their own view can equally be dismissed as a mythological narrative worth no more attention than any other. An update presents Curry's brief reply including his claim that a longer reply would waste his time; the authors' response to each of Curry's brief points including how he contradicts his own claim of engaging in wide discussion; and a survey of other reviews. Three by astrologers are generally positive. Two by academics are generally negative.Full article including this abstract 30m 87kb Home Fast-Find Index