Displaying items by tag: natural philosophy http://www.kepler.edu Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:58:08 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb An Introduction to Natural Astrology http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/history-of-astrology/item/499-an-introduction-to-natural-astrology http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/history-of-astrology/item/499-an-introduction-to-natural-astrology An Introduction to Natural Astrology

With the modern emphasis on natal astrology, natural astrology is sometimes forgotten. This is the branch of astrology that is more concerned with nature than with humans. Its traditional subject matter has been tides, weather and climate, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, animal behaviors, agriculture, and plagues. This article gives a brief overview of natural astrology beginning with Ptolemy.

Ptolemy (c. 150 AD), whom many consider to be the greatest scientist of the ancient world, authored a major astrological work, the Tetrabiblos(four books on astrology). In it he divided astrology into two fundamental categories: Universal and Genethlialogical. The former was concerned with natural phenomena such as climate, weather, tides, agriculture, plagues, etc. The later was concerned with the affairs of humans. (This division can also be observed in Indian, Chinese and Mesoamerican astrology). By the Renaissance these two branches had come to be known as natural and judicial astrology. On the verge of the scientific revolution there was no quarrel over natural astrology, but judicial astrology was under heavy attack from religion and those humanists who believed Man to be completely separate from nature.

Rheticus, Cardano, Dee, Brahe, Kepler, Bacon, Galileo and many other notables in the history of science either practiced natural astrology or supported it in principle. Kepler, in particular, was interested in this subject, published on it, and developed a scientific methodology to investigate weather from an astrological perspective. Kepler’s method was expanded upon during the mid 17th century by John Goad, an amateur scientist who authored a major work, the Astro-Meteorologica. It has been argued that the much of science during the 17th and 18th centuries contained (or inherited) elements of the natural astrology tradition, particularly in regard to natural philosophy and methodology.

The decline of natural astrology is a complex topic that requires an analysis of both philosophical and political changes during the later part of the 17th century and all of the 18th. There was never a clean break and modern historians of science appear to have offered a strongly biased interpretation. Scientific meteorology involved astrological indicators up to the late 18th century. From the early 19th century to the present day, astrological weather forecasting continued to exist as a tradition in annual almanacs. A few English and American astrologers in the 19th century wrote on natural astrology, but more as a review of established methodology and less as an ongoing investigation. Natural astrology was now more often referred to as mundane astrology, which included both historical and climatological cycles as well as astrometeorology.

During the early decades of the 20th century a number of influential historians of science declared astrology to be completely dead and an embarrassment to the history of science. However, throughout the 20th century a number of astrologically-minded researchers did investigate possible correlations between natural phenomenon and solar/planetary cycles and positioning. Some of these have used a time-slice methodology, i.e. a horoscope calculated for a specific astronomical moments thought to offer insights into the larger processes operating on the Earth. Others focused solely on the angular separations of the planets (aspects) and some utilized a heliocentric perspective.

In the 1930’s electrical engineer and astrologer Edward Johndro proposed a mechanism for astrology involving the Earth’s magnetic field. John Nelson, who for many years lectured at astrology conferences, developed in the 1940’s and 50’s a very successful methodology for predicting solar storms (for RCA) using elements of classical astrological methodology. In the 1960’s astrologer Donald Bradley found a lunar-cycle/rainfall correlation that was in line with John Goad’s observations 300 years earlier (it was published in Science). From the 1960’s to the early 21st century, German scientist Theodore Landscheit correlated climate patterns with the movement of the solar system’s barycenter, which itself is modulated by planetary cycles. He viewed the sun and planets together as an intricate “organism” regulated by complex feedback loops. The sun, making the planets revolve around itself, is in turn influenced by the planets which make it revolve around the center of mass of the entire system. These complex movements produce solar activity which, in turn influences the Earth’s atmosphere via the solar wind. Landscheit’s work is closely related to that of scientists Rhodes Fairbridge and John Sanders who have also stressed the importance of planetary patterns in determining the sun’s motion with respect to the barycenter and the corresponding “effects” on the Earth. More recently, English astronomer Percy Seymour has argued that planetary alignments may directly affect the Earth’s magnetic field. In this regard he has suggested that very small gravitational forces can produce very large effects on magnetic fields and has proposed a formal theory of magneto-tidal resonance with mathematical modeling.

Biology was a part of the tradition of natural astrology as it pertained to plagues, agriculture, and also to the lunar cycles apparent in marine life. It is well-known that organisms respond in many ways to daily (circadian) cycles and also to various lunar rhythms. Changes in light and possibly sensitivity to lunar gravitation are considered reinforcing or even driving forces in such cycles. Sensitivity to the Earth’s magnetic field is also apparent in some organisms (eg. magnetotactic bacteria, animal navigation, etc.). There is also evidence of longer cycles in organisms, (i.e. abundance, reproduction, etc.), that have not been adequately explained. What is not generally not considered as possible markers of biological time, are cycles involving astronomical bodies other than the sun or moon.

It is possible that other bodies in the solar system, especially Venus, may play a role in the life cycles of some organisms. Spikes in the geo-magnetic index may be registered by organisms just as contrasts in visible light are used for navigation in the environment. It is also possible that certain organisms may be responding collectively to planetary cycles on a scale that is evident only over the course of several generations. The database established by the Foundation for the Study of Cycles at the University of Pittsburgh points to the existence of a great many 8-year and 9.6-year cycles (of mammals, birds, insects, etc.). The synodic cycle of Venus (Sun-Venus) is 584 days on average. Five cycles is equal to 8 years exactly, 6 cycles equal 9.6 years. Exactly what is driving these cycles is not known, and if they are linked to the synodic cycle of Venus, could be the focus of an investigation. Mesoamerican astrology was founded, more or less, on the cycles of Venus and surviving records point to correlations with climate and agriculture.

While a number of mechanisms have been proposed to explain how planetary bodies may influence the Earth and its organisms, possibly the most plausible at the present time has to do with responses to subtle fluctuations of the Earth’s magnetic field generated by the sun’s output, which in turn is modulated by planetary positions. The cycles of Jupiter and Saturn together appear to have a powerful affect on the solar cycle itself, which, in turn, then influences the Earth’s magnetic field. A possible study would involve an investigation into measurable fluctuations of the various magnetic indices and possible correlations with planetary alignments, followed by a search for further correlations with the upper atmosphere, weather patterns, and organic systems.

  • natural astrology
  • natural philosophy
  • Ptolemy
    bcscofield@juno.com (Bruce Scofield) Beyond Natal Astrology Fri, 01 Nov 2013 01:52:21 +0000
    Francis Bacon: The Natural Philosopher http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/history-of-astrology/item/333-francis-bacon-the-natural-philosopher http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/history-of-astrology/item/333-francis-bacon-the-natural-philosopher Francis Bacon: The Natural Philosopher

    By Stephanie Soibelman, Kepler BA Candidate
    Course: 376-G Literature of the Natural Philosophers
    Faculty: Carol Tebbs
    23 June 2010


    Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an English Natural Philosopher who used inductive reasoning in attempts to improve the errors made by Aristotle, and is known for advancing the (scientific) method. As Bacon never actually made any experimental discoveries, nor did he have a laboratory to work in, why has he been given the utmost credit and is considered one of the most prominent Natural Philosophers?

    The title of Bacon’s work, Novum Organum, or the New Organon (1620), is based on Aristotle’s work on logic.  Organon translates in English as the instrument of rational thinking, and proposed a new style of reasoning to supersede Aristotle’s work. Aristotelian philosophy was based on a set of rules that governed the consistency between conclusion and a foundation that was accepted as unquestioningly true; Bacon’s philosophy was the opposite. Leading up to and during Bacon's time, philosophies existed that were rooted in pure faith and not so much in reason; these outdated philosophies were promoted by the church [Landry]. His style was to investigate the underpinnings of the very ground work in Aristotle’s scientific theory; his objective was to put nature to the test [Baigrie, 62].


    The Inductive Approach

    Bacon is most commonly known for advocating the inductive approach to science.  He argued that there had been limited progress over the ages due to the fact that scholastic philosophers altered their findings on nature to meet the requirements of scripture. Bacon delineated the principles of the inductive thinking method, while the term “method” goes back to the times of Aristotle, Bacon constituted a breakthrough in the approach to science.  He denounced the scholastic thinkers for their attachment to Aristotelian doctrines, which he felt prevented independent thinking and the acquisition of new ideas regarding nature. He argued that to improve the quality of human life, the advancement of science should not depend on ancient texts, and that old authorities should be considered redundant and unnecessary. He believed that knowledge should be pursued in a new and organized way.  His idea of an inductive approach included the careful observation of nature with a systematic accumulation of data to draw upon. New laws were soon created based on the knowledge of particular findings through testing and experimentation. Any natural philosopher who subscribed to this method did not base their findings on out-dated myths, but would instead base their results on observable facts [Perry, 549]. It was this kind of materialist theory that brought about the great discoveries by Copernicus and Galileo. Bacon could see that the only knowledge of importance to humanity was empirically rooted in the natural world; and that a clear system of scientific inquiry would assure mastery over the material world [Landry].


    Bacon was among the first to appreciate the value of the new science for human life. He stated that knowledge should help utilize nature for human advantage and should improve the quality of life by advancing commerce, industry and agriculture. He believed that knowledge is power and he urged the government to create scientific institutions to praise the progress in technology and the mechanical arts.


    In his book The Advancement of Learning (1605), Bacon proposed a scientific method using inductive empirical experimentation. He believed that experiments should be carefully recorded so that results were reliable and could be repeated. He advocated the world of science over the secret and mysterious world of magic. He stressed the practical impact that scientific discovery encompassed and even wrote a utopian work in which science was the savior for the future of humanity. Although Bacon was not a scientific investigator himself, he used political influence to support the scientific projects with the use of inductive reasoning, in England [Kishlansky, Geart, and O'Brien, 549].


    His philosophy was contrasted by the position taken by the Roman Catholic Church at the time. The Church had taken the offensive in preserving the core of its heritage, and this new science appeared to be another act of heresy. Ever since Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) published his views on a sun-centered universe, a new skepticism emerged among European intellectuals. Every year new theories competed with old ones and several contradictory explanations regarding the most common phenomena were advanced and debated. The trial of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) slowed the momentum of scientific investigation in Catholic European countries and caused conflict between authority and knowledge. The skeptics concluded that nothing was known and nothing was knowable. This outrageous new outlook inevitably led to the most shocking of all possible ideas, “atheism.” However, few of the leading scientists ever saw a contradiction between their studies and their faith. By the middle of the century, assaults on the Church were increasing and some blamed the new science of inductive reason for these philosophical attacks [Kishlansky, Geart, and O'Brien, 549].


    Elizabethan England

    Elizabethan England was anything but a free society. Like Continental Europe at the time, the authority of the Monarchies and the Church were undisputed. Sovereigns held the power of life or death over their subjects, and authorities encouraged informers to hand over heretics and political radicals. The heretics would then be imprisoned, tortured, or even put to death. England was split over religion, but the Catholic Church no longer had a hold on England as it did on other European countries [Taylor]. This caused a slow rise for Bacon in his political career under the Elizabethan Parliament and later under James I. He represented many constituencies, and is the only person in history who has been a member of the House of Lords and the House of Commons at the same time [Taylor]. In Parliament he served on at least 29 committees, and was considered one of the most eloquent speakers to have ever stood before the House of Commons.


    Bacon was well respected, largely for his virtue, but also had many jealous enemies. Under King James I rule, Bacon rose to Solicitor-General in 1606 and achieved the post of Attorney-General in 1613. Bacon was educated at Cambridge and was a Member of Parliament for 34 years and became Lord Chancellor in 1618, until his fall and disgrace from public office in 1621 for bribery. He was framed by his Parliamentary colleague and nemesis from Elizabethan times, Edward Coke (1552-1634), and was impeached and lost his title for taking bribes in office. This led him to being convicted and banished from London and the law courts [Taylor]. However, during his reign in office, he encouraged the organization of science itself, the communication between centers of learning to share research and resources, and of royal patronage for the sciences. A direct result was the formation of The Royal Society in Britain, formed with the financial support of the Crown. Regrettably, this occurred after Bacon’s time in office.


    Bacon and Astrology

    Bacon had mixed views when it came to the practice of astrology. He felt that astrology was very full of superstition, and argued that there was very little sound evidence to be discovered in it. However, he wanted to see astrology ‘purified’ rather than rejected altogether [Tester, 220]. He believed that astrology needed to be based on reason and physical speculation, and rejected the use of horoscopes, nativities, elections, and query. He argued that these factors were the very “delight” of astrology, and in his judgment, were based on nothing pure or solid. Bacon insisted that the heavenly bodies affected the more sensitive bodies, such as humors, air, spirits, an actually affected solid bodies and large numbers of people. However, he also felt that the influence on an “individual” was so small that it would be insignificant [Tester, 221]. He held that astrological predictions of the climate and what each season would bring forth, could be accurate and have some value.  In contrast, forecasts for particular days held no value.   He stated that the celestial bodies must encompass certain other influences besides heat and light, and these influences must act by the rules of physics and needed further study [Tester, 221].


    Bacon’s view was that if astrology was purified, then it would be accepted as a "Sane Astrology." Thus the very nature of the stars and planets and hence their differences, needed to be updated in accord with logical sense, and not be contradicted or be inconsistent with what was scientifically proven. Such a "Sane Astrology" would be used for the prediction of comets, meteors, coming droughts, heats, frosts, earthquakes, fiery eruptions, winds, great rains, the seasons of the year, plagues, epidemic diseases, plenty, famine, wars, transmigration of people, or great innovations of things both natural and civil [Tester, 222]. Astrology could be used for agricultural or horticultural actions, factors including planting according to the phase of the Moon would be particularly important. Bacon stressed that the practical way in which one arrives at this sane astrology could be used for experiments in the future, by checking on past experiences, and thereby shifting traditions with the implementation of physical reasons.  He rejected the use of all semi-magical uses of astrology connected with seals, talismans, amulets, etc. In Novum Organum, Bacon was very dismissive and said that all superstition is much the same whether it was in regards to astrology, dreams, omens, or any of the like. All of which he felt, deluded the believers to observe events which seemed to be fulfilled. Bacon believed that superstition additionally included theology, religion, and philosophies such as Platonism [Tester, 222]. He thought that astrology should only be applied to the world of nature and human history in its collective sense, but not to the life and fortune of any individual [Whitfield, 169]. In other words, Bacon advocated the use of mundane astrology, and nothing more.


    Bacon also urged reformers to abandon the safety of classical scholarship because he felt that the intellectual globe should expand outside the discoveries of the ancients.  He promised that experiments would transform discoveries into knowledge and create a utopian New World [Fara, 157]. His assertion eventually influenced scientific research across all of Europe.  As Lord Chancellor, Bacon coined the ideal slogan "Knowledge is Power" to help convert the doubters. Though many of the Natural Philosophers preferred to investigate from the certainty of one's mind, Bacon urged the use of the inductive approach.  He insisted that explanation from observations untainted by theoretical preconceptions was the only true way to get untainted results. He envisioned a future utopian island community dedicated to investigating new ways of harnessing nature’s powers for the benefit of society.  Of course he was vague about how all that would come about, but did insist that information colleted by teams of researchers who were organized into separate projects, could accumulate facts that their leaders would digest into scientific knowledge. He envisioned such topics as metallurgy, agriculture, and even refrigeration would be tested and investigated [Fara, 158].


    Bacon’s lack of consideration towards the craftsmen, artisans, mechanics, and engineers was pitiable [Perry, 549]. In fact, the craftsmen and artisans made a huge impact on the improvement of human life. They advanced knowledge and technology and contributed to the betterment of human life, far more then Bacon ever did. Even though the craftsmen occupied a lower status in society, they were able to construct products for the natural philosophers to use. The craftsmen mastered their art and became experts at assisting the philosophers to produce important, systematic experimentations [Gregory, 136]. These new scientific philosophers worked with the craftsmen to further develop existing instruments, and make them even more accurate. Measuring instruments were essential for everyday use: the weighing of food, surveying of land, navigating by using the stars, telling time and even preparing herbal remedies, which were upgraded for experimental use.  The Optician, who had traditionally worked with reading glasses and nautical telescopes soon became in demand in the seventeenth century when they expanded to use microscopes and telescopes as well.  These optical instruments revealed details of the natural world that had never been seen before and lead the early experimenters to turn to the craftsmen for guidance, not to Francis Bacon [Fara, 159].


    Experimental Science

    The physician, William Gilbert (1544-1603) who was Queen Elizabeth I physician, is one individual who is credited as being one of Bacon’s contemporaries. He was very inspired to investigate magnetism and therefore improved British navigation by inventing more effective compasses. Other early scientists who came up with an array of findings began to write and publish in plain English instead of Latin so that others could easily read the information. Soon books and instruments began to travel from one place to another, and the world seemed to become smaller because of it. In theory, other experimenters were able to replicate the same results.  By being able to demonstrate an investigational ‘theory’, experimenters were able to show and verify an existing theory [Fara, 162]. Bacon called such crucial experiments ‘Instances of the Fingerposts’ that would point to the direction of truth. In simpler terms, he meant,” Seeing is Believing.” These new scientists argued that since experiments revealed facts, that they should be able to be replicated and repeated by anyone [Fara, 163].


    The appearance of new technical instruments such as the telescope, the barometer and the thermometer made for a wide variety of experiments, and ignited the growth of this new experimental technology. Bacon marks the first systematic attempt to give formal shape to this experimental science. His philosophy of science with his commitment to the role of observation and experiment as prerequisites for the construction of the scientific theory became highly influential. His work left an imprint on all subsequent philosophical discussions of the scientific method. By the middle of the seventeenth century, the new science was firmly established throughout Europe. Royal and noble patrons supported the enterprise by paying some of the costs for equipment and experimentation.  Both England and France established royal societies where learned scientists could meet together and discuss their discoveries [B Kishlansky, Geart, and O'Brien, 549]. He can even be praised for making an imprint on what was soon to be the United States of America [Taylor]. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was profoundly influenced by Bacon’s writings.  In writing the Declaration of Independence Jefferson believed that he was fulfilling Bacon’s dreams by creating a “New Atlantis.” Bacon was one of the leading supporters of scientific research in England and modern science owes a great dept to Bacon, for he created a process that affected the methods used today in science labs all over the world.


    Baigrie, Brian S. Scientific Revolutions, Primary Texts in the History of Science. New Jersey:Pearson Education, Inc., 2004. 62. Print.

    Fara, Patricia. Science, A Four Thousand Year History. 1st ed,. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 157-163. Print.

    Gregory, Frederick. Natural Science in Western History. 1st ed. Volume 1. Boston: Houghton Mifflin CO, 2008. 136. Print.

    Kishlansky, Mark, Patrick Geart, and Patricia O'Brien. Civilization in the West. 5th ed. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2003. 549. Print.

    Landry, Peter. "Francis Bacon: The Secretary of Nature." Biographies. Blupete, 2010. Web. 19 Jun 2010. <http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Philosophies/Bacon.htm>.

    Perry, Marvin. Western Civilization, A Brief History. 4th ed. Volume 2. Boston: Houghton Mifflin CO, 2001. 220-222. Print.

    Taylor, Michael. "Francis Bacon Secret Societies." The Secret Bard. The Designer’s Bureau, 2004. Web. 19 Jun 2010. <http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/b/bacon_francis.html>.

    Tester, Jim. A History of Western Astrology. New York: The Boydell Press, 1999. 220-222. Print.

    Whitfield, Peter. Astrology, A History. 1st ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2008. 169. Print.

    • francis bacon
    • elizabethean england
    • inductive reasoning
    • natural philosophy
    • enlightenment
    • stephanie soibelman
      ssoib@comcast.net (Stephanie Soibelman) History of Astrology Sun, 12 Dec 2010 16:43:24 +0000