Dr. Barton explains the principles of ancient astrology and brings the theory to life by Tamsyn Barton first traces the history of the subject chronologically. An account of astrology from its beginnings in Mesopotamia, focusing on the Greco-Roman world, Ancient Astrology examines the theoretical development and changing social and political role of astrology. Tamsyn Barton No preview . Ancient Astrology has 23 ratings and 5 reviews. Carolyn said: Valuable scholarship here – a tracking of the (spotty) evidence within the historical conte.

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Wncient to main content. Log In Sign Up. Ancient Astrology – Tamysn Barton. Roger French Director, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Cambridge Sciences of Antiquity is a series designed to cover the subject matter of what we call science. The volumes discuss how the ancients saw, interpreted and handled the natural world, from the elements to the most complex of living things.

Their discussions on these matters formed a resource for those who later worked on the same topics, including scientists. The intention of this series is to show what it was in zstrology aims, expectations, problems and circumstances of the ancient writers that formed the nature of what they wrote.

No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, xncient in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

Many readers with an interest in history are well tamsyb of the importance of perceptions of Greek philosophy in the later cultural and intellectual history of the West, but will not have to hand an authoritative guide to the various philosophies of the Greeks and Romans. The ancient material used by philosophers and others in later periods is here described in its ancient context. But the needs of the modern reader, who may want information on one particular area of bbarton sciences, has been kept in mind.

Ancient Astrology by Tamsyn Barton

It is more appropriate to use subject areas that were recognised in antiquity, in order that some account can be given of them that reflects both ancient—rather than modern—categorisation and their cultural context.

Medicine, for example, to mention briefly the subjects covered by the series was a vocational rather than liberal discipline, as clearly defined in the ancient world as now, for there have always been people who have tried to cure disease and maintain health. Astronomy without its constant companion astrology is perhaps a modern category rather than ancient and its separate history is partly a construction of scientific historians. Natural philosophy in the sense of speculation about the ultimate principles and constituents of the natural world is, from evidence from the pre-Socratics and Aristotle, also an ancient category that is recognisable today.

The series also looks at the practical way in which the Greeks handled the physical, natural world, which the theory of their sciences speculated about. Can we find science in the ancient world? Why is the title of this series Sciences of Antiquity and not the more straightforward Science in the Ancient World? For many years seeing science in the ancient world was unproblematic.

But it is no longer enough to think that science is adequately characterised in this way nor that it is a simple unveiling of the truth of nature. Science is a human enterprise and so also a human construction. It is only in this sense that science existed before scientists.

But so familiar are we with the apparently timeless validity of scientific truths that we give them in their timelessness, a past, a history for them to unfold themselves in. But man in the ancient ancienh was doing something else, and did not have a duty to recognise our truths. What he was doing was some kind of bartln, most often natural philosophy. A brief, ordinary characterisation of science would surely include most of the following: The scientist puts his passions aside and relies on reason, ii It is non-religious.

No longer does an instinct veneration for a creator structure the search into nature. In being objective, passionless, creatorless, it alone produces tangible truth, which in modern society is given privileged status and which science often consciously opposes to faithiii It is experimental in its verification of its theories, iv Science and the research that continues to build it are in practice directed to the practical business of manipulating nature.

Its self-confidence is increased by every successful manipulation of nature: No one in antiquity strove through philosophy to baron nature except perhaps the Magi and the doctors and it is very questionable whether they were using philosophy. Control of the human mind achieving ataraxia, freedom from fear was a much more common goal; and ataraxia was a subjective state, quite different from the objective goals of science.


Nor does science seek to enforce garton moral or religious code of behaviour in its practitioners, as much ancient philosophy did.

Ancient Astrology – Tamysn Barton – Google Books

Natural philosophy had understanding nature as one of its goals, but since this aim did not include manipulation, it did not use technology. Often natural philosophy denied the power of the gods to intervene in human affairs, but that did not prevent philosophy being a manifestly religious affair. It was not experimental. It is clear that ancient philosophers did not always expect their subject to progress and certain that none of them were aiming at modern science.

Others have extended the argument and asserted that some activties of the Greeks were scientific in a limited way, and that for example doctors and root-cutters were gaining scientific knowledge of plants, while others were working on geometry or explaining how thunderstorms happen.

That science is a unitary thing is recognised by all of its practitioners whatever their own branch of it may be. Certainly what the Greeks thought about plants, geometry and thunderstorms may have prompted later people to think about them too, or even to adopt Greek explanations; but even when such a process extended down to the age of science it does not mean that the Greeks were practising science.

At most they were writing what came to be used as resources for people who did come to practise science. Perhaps you want to build a garage. It has to be a certain shape in order to house your car, which is its function, and the thing that identifies it as a garage. You may take the bricks from a derelict Victorian stable, which was another shape for a related reason. But your use of the bricks does not make the stable an early garage, in an age without cars.

Fragments of world-views like bricks may certainly look scientific when presented in isolation. So much has been said about myth, magic, superstition and rationality,8 objectivity and science, largely by scientific historians, that the terms are largely debased currency.

They called it philosophy and strove rather to stress the unity of knowledge than the separateness of its parts.

Part of it was concerned with the natural world, but this part was not marked off from the others by any strict boundaries. They were often practical people, using their philosophy to bring about a certain state of mind and way of life which are not goals of modern philosophy.

Sometimes they are more visible as capitalists and engineers. As educators they had to be careful what they taught if they wished to retain their schools or their lives: Then we must offer an alternative. If we pause for a moment and look at the history of history- ofscience we see that it has two characteristics that help to solve the problem.

First, history of science is often tied to philosophy of science, a circumstance that reflects the beliefs of the founders of the subject— that is, that science, being so important and successful, must have some special method.

Second, it attracted the attention of specialists in various departments of science, who seemed by their speciality to be well equipped. Like the philosophers, whom we have just mentioned, the scientist-as-historian who looks at the past of his subject naturally sees it as developing to the maturity that represented it in his own time.

This is close to the practice of the Whig historians who notoriously saw old political constitutions as stages in the development of the Whig constitution rather than answers to old political problems. In this, ideas or other contributions are represented as passing down through the ages like genes or seeds, becoming fertile or dying according to the ground on which they fell and on their innate viability.

Here the identity resides within the gene, which may perhaps—in genetic history—be seen as genuinely scientific or having been recognised in a scientific spirit. But ideas are not genetic, do not happen on their own without some world-system, nor outside people. The historical dynamism is not with the transmission of ideas but with the efforts of successions of people trying make sense and order of their world. The apparent naturalness of genetic history is summed up in an aphorism of Pascal, which expresses clearly how the West developed and at a critical time a tradition of looking at history which sought out and emphasised continuities: Phrenologists in the nineteenth century went back to Plato as confidently as psychologists in the twentieth to show that though the subject was new, yet its principles were known, unnamed, to the greatest of the ancients.


If like the Frenchman Riolan in the seventeenth century, you thought you had worked out how the blood moved in the body, it strengthened your case by showing that Hippocrates had known it, but had not built it up into a system.

When the great Dutch teacher Boerhaave had become convinced of Newtonian mechanism, he wanted to show that Hippocrates too had been a mechanist.

Ancient Astrology

We would not in these cases allow that there was any real history of phrenology, psychology or mechanism. Aristotle often set out to strengthen his own arguments by destroying those of people he chose to regard as his predecessors. He represented them as engaged in the same task as himself, whereby it became easier to show how they had failed and he had won.

For example, there is almost no evidence save for that from Aristotle that Thales ever indulged in natural philosophy. Part of the power of history to legitimate a discipline19 is derived from its frequent use in teaching the discipline.

So history of science has been pedagogic and legitimating. All are self-serving and the historian of history-of-science sees too many parallels in the past to accept such devices at face value.

He sees that the professional job of the historian of science is to find science in the past, who often measures his success by how much he finds. Because we see most clearly in the past what is of most interest to us as moderns, we are being selective.

There is a strong sense in which we are constructing history in our own image; and doing so moreover partly from fragments of similar constructions of our predecessors.

This of course appears to confirm our interpretation, in that some scholar in the past thought so too; and the scholar becomes more famous for agreeing with us.

Part and parcel of this is that far from natural philosophy and science being an effect of a classical cause, or a growth or a rebirth from a classical seed, or astroogy more general self-executive bequest of the Greeks, it was the other way round.

Just as Aristotle had chosen his opponents and thus made them into his ancestors, the men of the Middle Ages and then the Renaissance sought out and so reconstituted ancient philosophy.

They did so for their own purposes and so were selective. The early church chose Plato when it needed intellectualism to defend itself and attack opponents. It chose Aristotle in the early thirteenth century for similar reasons. The men of the Renaissance too chose to see their intellectual parentage in ancient Greece. Before—say—the Council of Florence the language of Greece was not widely known in the West. Greece was distant geographically and culturally. Indeed the Latins were traditionally hostile to the Greeks, having defeated them with a diverted crusade in the early thirteenth century and having set up a brief Latin Empire over Byzantium.

The Greeks thought of the Latins as barbarians, and became even more Greek in reaction. After the narton of Constantinople Greece ceased to exist. Greek refugees from the Turks brought with them new and exciting philosophies and political ambitions. From then on the desire to restore, recreate and relive the classical Greek cultural experience expanded hugely. They wanted to see some continuity between themselves and the Greeks. The ancientness of European thought, famsyn in this way, offered some form of stability at a time of change as great as that of the collapse of Constantinople.

There was also, then, a new urgency to explain and understand science, which included its history. It seemed natural that scientists were best qualified to do this. That is why science has never existed except among peoples who came under the influence of Greece. It implies a power stretching over the ages, energised by some innate barto, perhaps intellectual virtuosity, truth or beauty.

Or perhaps what is meant is that influence is influential because of transmitted ideas. The same arguments can be used against influence, as a sort of active miasma into which people wander, as against ballistic ideas. Influence starts with the person who is influenced.