John Walker's Electronic House

Ye Skepticism

by on Aug.17, 2007, under The Rest

How lovely that Mr Shakespeare was scoffing at the nonsense of astrology all those years ago.

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune,–often the surfeit
of our own behavior,–we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity; fools by
heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and
treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,
liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,
by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion
of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star! My
father compounded with my mother under the
dragon’s tail; and my nativity was under Ursa
major; so that it follows, I am rough and
lecherous. Tut, I should have been that I am,
had the maidenliest star in the firmament
twinkled on my bastardizing.

9 Comments for this entry

  • Nick Mailer

    Fallacy Alert. And you don’t even need Barthes to tell you so.

    This is not “Shakespeare”, but one of his characters, Edmund. He is Edgar’s bitter, bastard brother, a big baddie in King Lear. This speech of his (beginning, earlier, with “Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law my services are bound”. He commits terrible crimes, and is eventually hoist by his own petard in a plot device which makes clear that his little speech is dramatic hubris of the most potent Greek kind. Deny the fates, and they come back and kick you in your puny arse. As he dies, he admits he’s been a treacherous, arrogant son of a bitch, and basically recants.

    So NURR.

  • bob_arctor

    Plus John is a Christian so just as foolish as astrologers! A-ha!

  • John

    bob – you got me there with your master satire-wit.

    Nick – oops. I just started reading it, and was delighted by the rant. Ah well.

  • Mark H Wilkinson

    Trust Nick to spoil things.

  • Kem

    What do you think of astrotheology, John?

  • John

    Well, it’s nonsense.

  • Kem

    So Egyptians worshiping a pharaoh as the sun god is nonsense? What about other sun gods of yore?

  • John

    Well yes, clearly it was nonsense.

    Are you arguing that the Sun is God? I’d argue that it’s a massive ball of very hot gases.

  • Kem

    Haha, no. I’m not arguing that’s the case. I was illustrating the idea that old religions heavily featured astronomical motifs and themes.

    Representations of a God as the Sun, and vice versa, feature in many religions including Christianity: Jesus, the light of the world and the risen saviour. There are many intriguing parallels between old mythological religions and modern theological religions, and their apparent similarities to astrological events.

    I was wondering what your thoughts on the matter were.