Re: [OPE-L] Derrida's ghosts

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Nov 09 2005 - 12:54:07 EST

>Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
>>Wasn't astrology what the entirety of Indian cosmology dismissed as?
>>there was some orientalism in the very charge of astrology to all non
>>cosmologies. Perhaps they had some validity and surely were often based
>>on accurate measurements without which what you would call science would
>>have been impossible. I think Amartya Sen (no postmodernist) may have a
>>on this in his Argumentative Indian.
>>Don't know. But your point does not settle this for me.
>This has bugger all to do with west versus east. If you read Ptolemy he
>is an increadible mishmash of astronomy, astrology and what would now
>be considered pop-psychology.
>The unscientific point about astrology is that uses an imaginary symbolic
>connection between the apparent positions of the planets to explain
>events on earth: the effeminacy of the inhabitants of asia minor being
>attributed to the 'influence of Saturn' for example in Ptolemy.
>There were all sorts of pre-scientific theories about stellar motions which
>might involve good observations which would later provide the raw material
>for scientific causal theories to be developed.

Yes, and I was  worried that the work of those good observations would
be effaced if  non western cosmology dismissed as only astrology
though the development
of science was built on those observations. I am not altogether clear about how
Newtonian theory should be understood as causal.

>But to
>constitute a science you need an epistemological break from the prior
>ideological explanations of the domain.

How is that break completed?

>  A separation of the domain from
>its projected social determinants and its recognition as an autonomous
>material process.

But why should we allow science that self understanding? What happens
if it is not so separated and autonomous? Then why should it be
recognized as such. This stronger than Althusser Althusserian
approach seems to close
off a priori the sociological study of scientific practice. What about
Gideon Freudenthal's work on Newton? Or the entire Darwin industry?
There seems ironically enough more than a hint of nescience in your

>  This break is essentially constituted by the Galliean and
>Newtonian theories of motion.
>It is obscurantism to bring in the charge of 'orientalism' in the dismissing
>of pre-scientific cosmologies.

Dismissing does not allow us to understand their actual relation to
scientific cosmology.


>Paul Cockshott
>Dept Computing Science
>University of Glasgow
>0141 330 3125

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