Tarot and Science
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Tarot and Science
Recent events have made me question a lot of unconscious assumptions I had about Tarot.
For the longest time I’ve held the impression that science and its many philosophies, are incompatible with Tarot.
First and foremost of these is Empiricism that holds as its core principle to disregard anything that can not be counted and then recounted by others.
This philosophy does leave Tarot in an odd position as it is by nature a subjective exchange,
and from a purely materialistic perspective nothing other than the shuffling of pretty pictures are going on.
Of course there are people who view Tarot from both spiritual and religious frames of view,
yet they despite this manage to often enough strike a balance with science and it’s findings.
I think more and more this is an issue of philosophical purism from the people who take the side of science.
There seem to be a need to go all out on every principle one holds, and deny every other possibility,
to the point where one is obviously in the wrong about a great many things,
but one is unable to see it from the pure fanatical zeal one has put oneself in, in the name of the principles one serve.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it very aptly like this:
Subjectively, first of all, we are inevitably the centre of perspective of our own observation. In its early, naive stage, science, perhaps inevitably, imagined that we could observe phenomena in themselves, as they would take place in our absence. Instinctively physicists and naturalists went to work as though they could look down from a great height upon a world which their consciousness could penetrate without being submitted to it or changing it. They are now beginning to realise that even the most objective of their observations are steeped in the conventions they adopted at the outset and by forms of habits of thought developed in the course of the growth of research; so that, when they reach the end of their analyses they cannot tell which any certainty whether the structure they have reached is the essence of the matter they are studying, or the reflection of their own thought. And at the same time they realise that as the result of their discoveries, they are caught body and soul to the network of relationships they though to cast upon things from outside : in fact they are caught in their own net.
The problem is of course when empiricism tries to elbow itself into other areas where it doesn't really belong
and where it cannot really find the numbers it is looking for, namely the subjective realm of humanity.
The disconnect with Science is that one cannot very well prove the inner world of someone,
as only that someone actually know what it is like to experience their subjectivity.
It cannot be observed in the same way as more tangible objects.
To an empiricist this means often quite simple, that everything the other person has to say from this point is useless and irrelevant,
as it cannot be proven nor counted. Yet often imbued in that subjectivity that is dismissed, is the very things that makes life worth living;
values, habits, opinions, and models of the world. These things shape us in ways that are beyond what the seeming objective world demands of us.
Not only that, but the interplay with the objective world gives room for creativity and all the wonders that it spawn.
(science) "can fulfill its aim and purpose only in the establishment of law,
which is merely an abbreviated expression for manifold and yet correlated processes.
This purpose transcends the purely experimental by means of the concept,
which, in spite of general and proved validity,
will always be a product of the subjective psychological constellation of the investigator."
As we can see Chardin was not the only one who saw the folly of elevating science to a supreme infallible principle,
as science is nothing without the inner world of the people who practice it.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
― Albert Einstein
As Einstein (one of the most celebrated scientist we have had) said,
it is all down to what the imagination and creativity of the mind can come up with.
Here we then have the most important clue for what Tarot can be helpful with,
namely being a bridge to that inner world that more or less is the neglected foundation of science;
and whatever else we have of value in human society, that needed creativity fueled by inner subjectivity.
So the next time someone gives you a hard time over Tarot in the name of science,
know that most likely they are more misguided and unbalanced on the issue than you,
as you most likely accept science and utilize it in concert with Tarot, and get the benefit of both worlds,
while they have cut themselves off from half of what it means to be human,
which makes them into walking tragedies more than anything else.