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Belief in astrology as an example in the history of folly
Ein Auszug aus Patrick Suppes: Probabilistic MetaphysicsAstrologie Zitate Patrick Suppes
The history of human folly is replete with belief in spurious causes, and I shall not try to adduce detailed examples. Perhaps my favorite, and one of the most enduring examples, is the belief in astrology. What is interesting about the better ancient defenses of astrology is that the defenses begin on sound empirical grounds, but quickly wander into extrapolations that are unwarranted und that would provide upon deeper investigation excellent examples of spurious causes. Ptolemy's treatise on astrology Tetrabiblos begins with sensible examples of the seasons, the weather, and the tides being influenced by the motions of the sun end the moon, but then moves rapidly to the examination of what may be determined about the temperament und fortunes of a given individual. He proceeds to give genuinely fantastic explanstions of the cultural characteristics of entire nations on the basis of their relation to the stars. Consider, for example, this passage:
. . . Of these same countries Britain, (Transalpine) Gaul, Germany, und Bastarnia are in closer familiarity with Aries und Mars. Therefore for the most part their inhabitants are fiercer, more headstrong, und bestial. But Italy, Apulia, (Cisalpine) Gaul, and Sicily have their familiarity with Leo und the sun; wherefore these peoples are more masterful, benevolent, und co-operative.
Patrick Suppes: Probabilistic Metaphysics. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 1974, S. 48

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© by Herbert Huber, Am Fröschlanger 15, 83512 Wasserburg, Germany, 7.1.2004