The Case for Astrology

The Case for Astrology

by John Anthony West
Viking Arkana. New York, 1991; hardbound, 500 pages including Appendix, Bibliography, and Indices.

First published in England in 1970, The Case for Astrology was originally intended as a survey of astrological practice from ancient to modern times, with an emphasis on the diverse, present-day endeavors to ensconce astrology into the respectable ranks of science.

John Anthony West and Jan Toonder, who collaborated on the first edition of this work, carefully outlined the statistical studies of Dr. Michel Gauquelin on the relationship of planetary angularity to profession, and on planetary heredity. At the time, Gauquelin's studies looked promising for astrology's adherents, finding a higher than expected incidence of correlation between planetary phenomena and birth time for particular professions.

This new edition not only updates the state of the art twenty years later, but also tells the unfortunate and epic story of scientific objections to astrology, which have increased in recent years. Gauquelin's work has been singled out for attack by critics of astrology. The critics, West contends, have been guilty of "evasion, abuse, calumny, neglect, deliberate lies and finally, in all probability, fraud."

This chronicle of astrology's encounter with modern science, narrated in West's typically acerbic style, is a no-holds-barred report of the increasing hostility of vested interest science toward serious scientific astrological research. It is unfortunate that the Case for Astrology turns out to be the Case Against Modern Scientific Method, but this may be a fortuitous turn of events in the collision between science and metaphysics.

West is mindful of the ploys of modern science, and points out the distinguishing features of legitimate methodology and the spurious posturing that have alternately made up the objections and attacks on astrology for the last two decades. He is also watchful of the pitfalls of the scientific mindset , and indicts "the true Inquisitorial nature of the Church of Progress and the general level of disregard in which the search for truth is held by many eminent scientists and academics."

West, a scholar and Pythagorean, is known in the bastions of orthodox science as an academic maverick and troublemaker (see The Quest, Winter 1991 for an article by and interview with West). The updating of this valuable work, which has become a classic on shelves of practicing astrologers, exhibits West's analytical strengths and insights into the philosophical dilemmas of our time. Truth, by whatever means it is presented, may be apprehended when the pride and prejudice of traditional scientific inquiry is abandoned. In the words of the English astronomer Dr. Percy Seymour, scientific pride "also can shackle the creative imagination of scientists and impede scientific progress."


Summer 1993