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[sacredlandscapelist] F Yates, scientific method and the occult

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  • Mark Swaney
    Hello everyone, Congrats to Cat for the Lucky Mojo artwork on Green s new album - immortality at last! I ll be looking for it. I am currently, and still,
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 1, 1999
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      Hello everyone,

      Congrats to Cat for the Lucky Mojo artwork on Green's new album -
      immortality at last! I'll be looking for it.

      I am currently, and still, researching in the library in my rather
      haphazard way on various issues that interest me. And I am reading the
      "fallout" amoung the professional historians on Francis A. Yates's books.
      This concerns me as I have been such a fan of Yate's work, and I am still.
      Her work has been attacked, (not recently, I am a little tardy in checking
      up on her opposition) and I have found the reading of the arguments to be
      very interesting and enlightening. So far I remain a fan of F. A. Yates and
      the others, I do not think that the attempts to discredit her work are at
      all convincing. In fact, I find that the attacks themselves have to my mind
      so far only strengthened Yates' main points.

      For the folks who have not yet read Francis A. Yates' books, as well as
      those of the others in the "Warburg" group, Yates has written several books
      that point out the connections between the "occult philosophy" of the 16th
      century with the scientific revolution in the 17th century. Yates makes the
      bold claim that our modern scientific methods found their genesis in
      astrology, alchemy, cabala, hermeticism, numerology and neoplatonism.

      This should not be such a controversial position to take in view of the
      always acknowledged relationship between alchemy and modern chemistry, but
      it apparently is. The objection seems to base itself on the idea that the
      scientific method is totally incompatable with the basic assumptions and
      methods of the earlier occult "sciences". In this view, the scientific
      revolution succeeds in SPITE of the occult sciences of the renassaince. By
      this thinking the scientific method owes nothing to the occult.

      But in my mind the objections miss the point. The scientific method is
      at odds with occultic and primitive types of thinking, that is without doubt
      true. The scientific method can indeed be seperated from the occultic types
      of investigation, they are two different types of thought. But what Yates
      is saying is that the historical record demonstrates that the insurgence of
      the occult sciences beginning in about 1450, were instrumental in bringing
      about the type of critical thinking that did in fact lead directly to the
      scientific revolution. Her view is that our modern science grew out of
      attempts to "operate on the world", as a magician might operate, attempts
      that began as efforts to recover what was thought to be "the lost knowledge
      of the ancients" and ended by discovering the circulation of the blood. Her
      detractors seem to be motivated by a need to "rescue" science from being
      tarred by the "black arts".

      The extreme reluctance to credit occult thinking with having produced
      ANY positive result is, I believe, symptomatic of the still-lingering fears
      engendered by the opponets of BOTH the occult AND science. In other words,
      I think that the psychological resistance to Yates' work is due precisely
      to the continuation of occult thinking in modern times in the form of
      western Christianity. This is a point that I will boldly make. And that is
      one that has been glaringly missing from all the discussions in the books I
      have been reading, namely that Kepler, Newton and others were so attracted
      to the "new" occult precisely because it's methods and framework so closely
      resembled what was for the culture of their day the source of all true
      knowledge, the Bible.

      Anyone who has studied the cabala, or hermetic writing, or "sacred"
      numerology, will immediately recognize such thinking and writing in both the
      old and new testaments of the Christian Bible. When the detractors of the
      renassaince occult sciencies point out that the hermetic writings by Hermes
      Trismegistus were actually written in Greece in the first and second century
      AD, not in the days of Moses as was thought in the 15th century, they rarely
      if ever point out that the hermetic writings are therefore contemporarys of
      the New Testament, written in the same time and place. Read the Revelation
      of John. Going back even further, read the visions of Ezekiel, and Daniel,
      and Zechariah. Then compare to the Zohar, the Asclepius, and other "occult"
      writings. They are the same type of thinking, the same use and abuse of
      symbology, the same fantastic metaphors taken literally. All of the
      criticisms that apply to the occult also apply to modern religious thought.
      The modern believer in the "literal truth" of the Bible is an occultist.

      This point is made by D P Walker in his book on "Spiritual and Demonic
      Magic from Ficino to Campanella" when he points out that the magical
      settings recommended by Marsilio Ficino include wine, candles, music, and
      incense. Just as in a Catholic mass. As Walker points out, this makes the
      occult a competetitor to Christianity, the church has her own magic, she can
      tolerate no other practicioners.

      The success of the scientific method doomed the church's initial
      opposition to it (except for the occasional attack on Darwin still ongoing
      in places like my home state of Arkansas), however the occult could be, and
      was, continually attacked by the church as being of Satan. Though if one is
      perceptive one will realize that the church's attacks on the occult are
      based on the assumption that the occult is TRUE, while it's scientific
      detractors attack it based on the idea that it is FALSE.

      The scientific revolution posed a dilemma to the church. THEY, being
      the church heirarchy, could no longer claim a total monopoly of all truth.
      This was a problem only because the scientific method suceeded where
      scholasticism, theology and the occult had failed. But the church's problem
      was solved by the scientists themselves when they declared religious truth
      to be seperate from scientific truth. A divorce that made everyone happy
      except the philosophers. How can we have multiple catagories of the truth?
      Does this not lead to what Orwell called "doublethink"?

      The results of the divorce of scientific reality from (religious,
      spiritual, psychological, occult, take your pick) reality is still very much
      with us today. It is a quite useful divorce in some ways, mostly political,
      and in other ways it remains as an obstacle. The criticism of Yates' thesis
      on the history of science is an example of how valuable the divorce is to
      the modern mind. An apparently innocous analysis of the history of the
      origins of modern science engenders passionate debate that just barely
      remains civil. Why? Because the Yates' thesis breaks down the catagories
      established by the truce between science and religion. And the result is
      that a fundamental tenet of modern thought has been undermined, causing
      great anxiety to both sides of an amicable divorce settlement now 500 years
      old.

      Mark
    • J.Vincent Beall
      The beginning of science is founded on the success of Newton/Leibnitz calculus as the language of its metaphysics. Which means that this languge was found
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 1, 1999
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        The beginning of science is founded on the success of Newton/Leibnitz calculus
        as the language of its metaphysics. Which means that this languge was found
        suitable for the descriptions of the "objects" of our existence. The empirical
        method is founded in experience of "objects" within experiements.

        This was the new direction to gain understanding about the behavior of natural
        objects. It ingores whatever influence that ones subjective existance and state
        might have upon the physics of experiemnts. This is the exclusion that has been
        demanded in science in order to maintain the simplicity of the whole approach of
        gathering factual knowledge about the dead statistical objects of 'nature'.

        However, some difficulty as we know has been encountered in the study of
        particle physics, because it seems that particle experiments are influenced by
        the subjective state of the observers. So, this beggs particle physicist to
        study "something else" as the metaphysical basis of reality other than
        mechanical causuality. Consequently there are numbers of particle physicists
        that are lead into studies of ancient mystical systems, and some have left the
        field of particle physics completely.

        I think what Yates was showing was that in the old arts there was no clear
        distinction between the effects from among the objects of experience and the
        from subjects of the experiences. It just points out that the old ways were more
        wholesome in their general form even though not comrehensive in either mode. The
        success of science has been in finding powerful tools that address the "object"
        mode of reality. Even though consideration of "subject" reality is part of the
        dual whole of reality it leads us to model which is given to complexity and
        paradox to consider both at the same time. This division between "subject" and
        "object" reality has been maintained in modern time in the development religion
        and science as separate involvements.

        Nearly all of human history has acknowledged that reality does indeed this have
        this dual form which is subject to complexity. Occultists believe that the
        purpose of our experience in this life is to seek to transcend this dual nature
        of existance. This is the reason that divintiy has been appealed to from the
        deep knowing that we are without wisdom regardless of how very much we might
        understand.

        Vincent


        Mark Swaney wrote:

        > Hello everyone,
        >
        > Congrats to Cat for the Lucky Mojo artwork on Green's new album -
        > immortality at last! I'll be looking for it.
        >
        > I am currently, and still, researching in the library in my rather
        > haphazard way on various issues that interest me. And I am reading the
        > "fallout" amoung the professional historians on Francis A. Yates's books.
        > This concerns me as I have been such a fan of Yate's work, and I am still.
        > Her work has been attacked, (not recently, I am a little tardy in checking
        > up on her opposition) and I have found the reading of the arguments to be
        > very interesting and enlightening. So far I remain a fan of F. A. Yates and
        > the others, I do not think that the attempts to discredit her work are at
        > all convincing. In fact, I find that the attacks themselves have to my mind
        > so far only strengthened Yates' main points.
        >
        > For the folks who have not yet read Francis A. Yates' books, as well as
        > those of the others in the "Warburg" group, Yates has written several books
        > that point out the connections between the "occult philosophy" of the 16th
        > century with the scientific revolution in the 17th century. Yates makes the
        > bold claim that our modern scientific methods found their genesis in
        > astrology, alchemy, cabala, hermeticism, numerology and neoplatonism.
        >
        > This should not be such a controversial position to take in view of the
        > always acknowledged relationship between alchemy and modern chemistry, but
        > it apparently is. The objection seems to base itself on the idea that the
        > scientific method is totally incompatable with the basic assumptions and
        > methods of the earlier occult "sciences". In this view, the scientific
        > revolution succeeds in SPITE of the occult sciences of the renassaince. By
        > this thinking the scientific method owes nothing to the occult.
        >
        > But in my mind the objections miss the point. The scientific method is
        > at odds with occultic and primitive types of thinking, that is without doubt
        > true. The scientific method can indeed be seperated from the occultic types
        > of investigation, they are two different types of thought. But what Yates
        > is saying is that the historical record demonstrates that the insurgence of
        > the occult sciences beginning in about 1450, were instrumental in bringing
        > about the type of critical thinking that did in fact lead directly to the
        > scientific revolution. Her view is that our modern science grew out of
        > attempts to "operate on the world", as a magician might operate, attempts
        > that began as efforts to recover what was thought to be "the lost knowledge
        > of the ancients" and ended by discovering the circulation of the blood. Her
        > detractors seem to be motivated by a need to "rescue" science from being
        > tarred by the "black arts".
        >
        > The extreme reluctance to credit occult thinking with having produced
        > ANY positive result is, I believe, symptomatic of the still-lingering fears
        > engendered by the opponets of BOTH the occult AND science. In other words,
        > I think that the psychological resistance to Yates' work is due precisely
        > to the continuation of occult thinking in modern times in the form of
        > western Christianity. This is a point that I will boldly make. And that is
        > one that has been glaringly missing from all the discussions in the books I
        > have been reading, namely that Kepler, Newton and others were so attracted
        > to the "new" occult precisely because it's methods and framework so closely
        > resembled what was for the culture of their day the source of all true
        > knowledge, the Bible.
        >
        > Anyone who has studied the cabala, or hermetic writing, or "sacred"
        > numerology, will immediately recognize such thinking and writing in both the
        > old and new testaments of the Christian Bible. When the detractors of the
        > renassaince occult sciencies point out that the hermetic writings by Hermes
        > Trismegistus were actually written in Greece in the first and second century
        > AD, not in the days of Moses as was thought in the 15th century, they rarely
        > if ever point out that the hermetic writings are therefore contemporarys of
        > the New Testament, written in the same time and place. Read the Revelation
        > of John. Going back even further, read the visions of Ezekiel, and Daniel,
        > and Zechariah. Then compare to the Zohar, the Asclepius, and other "occult"
        > writings. They are the same type of thinking, the same use and abuse of
        > symbology, the same fantastic metaphors taken literally. All of the
        > criticisms that apply to the occult also apply to modern religious thought.
        > The modern believer in the "literal truth" of the Bible is an occultist.
        >
        > This point is made by D P Walker in his book on "Spiritual and Demonic
        > Magic from Ficino to Campanella" when he points out that the magical
        > settings recommended by Marsilio Ficino include wine, candles, music, and
        > incense. Just as in a Catholic mass. As Walker points out, this makes the
        > occult a competetitor to Christianity, the church has her own magic, she can
        > tolerate no other practicioners.
        >
        > The success of the scientific method doomed the church's initial
        > opposition to it (except for the occasional attack on Darwin still ongoing
        > in places like my home state of Arkansas), however the occult could be, and
        > was, continually attacked by the church as being of Satan. Though if one is
        > perceptive one will realize that the church's attacks on the occult are
        > based on the assumption that the occult is TRUE, while it's scientific
        > detractors attack it based on the idea that it is FALSE.
        >
        > The scientific revolution posed a dilemma to the church. THEY, being
        > the church heirarchy, could no longer claim a total monopoly of all truth.
        > This was a problem only because the scientific method suceeded where
        > scholasticism, theology and the occult had failed. But the church's problem
        > was solved by the scientists themselves when they declared religious truth
        > to be seperate from scientific truth. A divorce that made everyone happy
        > except the philosophers. How can we have multiple catagories of the truth?
        > Does this not lead to what Orwell called "doublethink"?
        >
        > The results of the divorce of scientific reality from (religious,
        > spiritual, psychological, occult, take your pick) reality is still very much
        > with us today. It is a quite useful divorce in some ways, mostly political,
        > and in other ways it remains as an obstacle. The criticism of Yates' thesis
        > on the history of science is an example of how valuable the divorce is to
        > the modern mind. An apparently innocous analysis of the history of the
        > origins of modern science engenders passionate debate that just barely
        > remains civil. Why? Because the Yates' thesis breaks down the catagories
        > established by the truce between science and religion. And the result is
        > that a fundamental tenet of modern thought has been undermined, causing
        > great anxiety to both sides of an amicable divorce settlement now 500 years
        > old.
        >
        > Mark
        >
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > eGroups.com Home: http://www.egroups.com/group/sacredlandscapelist/
        > http://www.egroups.com - Simplifying group communications
      • Mike Bispham
        Vincent writes ... calculus as the language of its metaphysics.
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 2, 1999
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          Vincent writes

          >The beginning of science is founded on the success of Newton/Leibnitz
          calculus
          as the language of its metaphysics.<

          In the sense of maths as the language of science, you have a strong point,
          but I don't think its that simple. As Newton acknowleged with Bernard of
          Chartres' words: "We can see further because we are standing on the
          shoulders of giants" - without the works of both the ancient philosophers,
          and the more recent 'giants'; the Alexandrian Neoplatonists, Islamic
          scholars, men like Abailard, Ockam, Bacon, Galilao, and Copernicus,
          Gassendi, (another) Bacon, Descartes, Newton knew he wouldn't have achieved
          much.

          Just as important, science could only prosper once the power of the church
          to restrict teaching (and experiment) to theology-friendly topics was
          broken, first by Henry the Eighth in England, and then by the protestant
          revolution. Just like heliocentricity, atomism, the very bedrock of both
          ancient and modern physics, was disallowed by the church. I think it still
          is. (Little known fact: Newton, an anti-trinitarian, wrote several times
          as much about theology, as he did science - the most important thing for
          him was to deny the church the ability to destroy the scientific
          revolution.)

          I think its also worth mentioning that 'occult' simply means hidden, and
          that the occult sciences, in the pre-enlightenment sense, simply means
          stuff that had to be hidden from theologists. That's a large and pretty
          mixed bag; but I think most of those we'd regard today as 'scientists' were
          aware of the need to distinguish between empirical knowledge and stuff that
          we think of as occult today - that which falls today under 'magic'. That
          doesn't mean they always managed it - Bruno being the archetypical casualty
          - though often the real flag they were flying was for freedom of enquiry -
          history simply recorded them as wicked 'occultists' to blacken their names.
          'Occult' is still used in the same way today, although the restrictions
          are now optional. In todays sense, it is perhaps more a case of 'stuff we
          choose not to know', which is a different thing altogether.

          Mike

          http://www.fupro.com/plat
        • MrPage@aol.com
          Vincent, Good post on the dual perspective of human observation and operation. Page
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 2, 1999
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            Vincent,
            Good post on the dual perspective of human observation and operation.
            Page
          • lowalker@hotmail.com
            I love the last couple of post on scientific method and the occult . My research is pretty much restricted to 1300 to 1700 . However I have had to research
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 2, 1999
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              I love the last couple of post on scientific method and the occult . My
              research is pretty much restricted to 1300 to 1700 . However I have had
              to research history, religion and geometry that produced the "heretic"
              and "occult" reasoning . It is also important to resarch the concept
              and actions of "HONOR" . The individual belief of honor seem to be the
              strongest deterrent to the political church as it weaves in and out of
              corruption .

              At some level it is the survival of ideas in hidden ritual and sacred
              geometry which reveals the individual and underlying thought of various
              civilizations .

              History is flawed because it must be written to the victors view point
              , even today . The current battle that civilization evolves in a linear
              path . The concept that the human body is so complex that we could have
              only evolved from one source .

              I believe in evolution but tend to think we sprouted up at different
              locations at varying times within the life of the planet .


              A condemed term is Cosmology the label for combining science intuition
              and God .

              Norwich England was a town said to be built in a circle with 12 towers
              both a fort and observatory. It is also the Cathedral location from
              which Bishop Wren was jailed for superstious practices .Bishop WREN a
              greek scholar appears to have been orienting structures and
              architecture to ancient practices . Cries of sun worship ,paganisim and
              elite holds on the concept of God began .

              We still live in that world today . Although now it is called
              conspiracy theory ,revisionist history or lacking in scientific method
              .
            • Mike Bispham
              Apologies Vincent if I seem unduly argumentative, but I m struggling to understand how you can say, within the paragraphs below: It ingores whatever
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 2, 1999
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                Apologies Vincent if I seem unduly argumentative, but I'm struggling to
                understand how you can say, within the paragraphs below:

                " It ingores whatever influence that ones subjective existance and state
                might have upon the physics of experiemnts."

                Is "it" modern science? If so, I'd have to take issue; surely the very
                effectivness of scientific method is due to the fact that great care is
                taken _not_ to allow "subjective existance and state" to influence results?
                That's what double-blind testing is specifically for. Or am I missing
                something?

                Mike





                Message text written by INTERNET:sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com
                >
                The beginning of science is founded on the success of Newton/Leibnitz
                calculus
                as the language of its metaphysics. Which means that this languge was found
                suitable for the descriptions of the "objects" of our existence. The
                empirical
                method is founded in experience of "objects" within experiements.

                This was the new direction to gain understanding about the behavior of
                natural
                objects. It ingores whatever influence that ones subjective existance and
                state
                might have upon the physics of experiemnts. This is the exclusion that has
                been
                demanded in science in order to maintain the simplicity of the whole
                approach of
                gathering factual knowledge about the dead statistical objects of
                'nature'.<
              • J.Vincent Beall
                ... Well, what I meant was that in physics for example the influence of the observer is not part of what is being studied as it was in the case of alchemy for
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 2, 1999
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                  Mike Bispham wrote:

                  > Apologies Vincent if I seem unduly argumentative, but I'm struggling to
                  > understand how you can say, within the paragraphs below:
                  >
                  > " It ingores whatever influence that ones subjective existance and state
                  > might have upon the physics of experiemnts."
                  >
                  > Is "it" modern science? If so, I'd have to take issue; surely the very
                  > effectivness of scientific method is due to the fact that great care is
                  > taken _not_ to allow "subjective existance and state" to influence results?
                  > That's what double-blind testing is specifically for. Or am I missing
                  > something?
                  >

                  Well, what I meant was that in physics for example the influence of the
                  observer is not part of what is being studied as it was in the case of alchemy
                  for instance. It has been learned over time where these difficulties are in the
                  process of experimenting and measures are taken to exclude these types of
                  influence so that they can be ignored.

                  When I took my first course in physics I knew ahead of time that it has been
                  learned in experimental physics that the expectation of a value for a
                  measurement that you have first arrived at through the application of theory
                  very often means that your first measurements in the lab will exactly match the
                  theoretical prediction. In our first lab experiment nearly the whole group of
                  us, including myself, were getting measurements that matched theoretical
                  predictions exactly, and were having great difficulty getting any variation
                  from that.

                  This was "bad science" since the devices we were using to take our measurements
                  were not perfect instruments. But of course in later labs we began to develop
                  variation in repeated measurements that reflected the physical condition of the
                  instruments and other sources of experimental error.

                  However, this experience of getting measurements that exactly match predictions
                  speaks perhaps to the kind of success the the artist has in creating a work
                  from his inspiration. If it goes correctly the resultant work does meet the
                  artist's first expectation, and the result is "fine art" and not "bad science".
                  So in that first lab experiment we were using our instruments like an artist
                  would use them getting perfect results with imperfect tools.

                  Vincent
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