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  • Tarot and Science

    Tarot and Science

     

    empirical.jpg    tarot-div.jpg

     

    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:

     

    (Thanks @devin @MollyCat and @gregory for pointing me to Chardin, it took me a while to get the message, but finally I decided to look at him!)

    Quote

    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.

     

     

    Quote

     

    (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."

    Carl Jung

     

     

    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.

     

    Quote

     

    “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

     

     

    einstein.jpg

     

    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.

     




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    Joan Marie

    Posted (edited)

    But where does one find meaning in life? Science offers lots of explanations, (which are great btw- I love science) but it falls a little short on that human need to find meaning. Maybe pondering the uncertainties of life which science cannot explain opens up some doors for us to find something deeper and more comforting to hang onto in a world, in a life that often is in despair. 

     

    I don't see anything wrong with that at all. I think it's called coping. 

     

    Our state an any point can affect our perceptions, our "grasp of reality". Many people who've recently lost a loved one may sense their presence and that can bring some much needed comfort. I'm not going to tell them it isn't real, in the name of "science."

     

    Edited by Joan Marie

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    1 hour ago, Joan Marie said:

    But where does one find meaning in life? ... I'm not going to tell them it isn't real, in the name of "science."

    Did you feel I closed the door on meaning and peoples experiences being real with this article?

     

    That was not my intention at all, I tried to keep the door open.

    If it closed anyway, I guess that shows the energetic power of that divide.

    As even when trying to be balanced, one just end up closing the door on both positions rather than building a bridge.

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    Raggydoll

    Posted

    I did not get that impression at all @Arch. I think we must not judge ‘science’ based on what we were taught back in school or what is commonly believed in society. If we look at what the leading researchers in quantum physics are saying then we get a very different picture. To quote just a couple:

     

    ”As a physicist, I have spent fifty years - my entire life as a researcher - to ask, what it is that hides behind the material. And the result is simple: there is no matter!.. Basically, there is only spirit” - Hans-Peter Durr

     

    “In reality, practically all of the unexpected concepts that quantum physics are using to describe the world were invented by spiritual teachers thousands of years ago” -Lothar Schäfer

     

    I highly recommend you read anything by Lothar Schäfer. I am currently reading his book “Infinite Potential - What quantum physics reveal about how we should live”. He talks about how the latest research in quantum physics point to the collective unconscious actually existing, and that Pythagoras was probably right in saying the universe is based on numbers, and how the ancient Vedic texts are accurately describing our true nature as humans. It’s mind-blowing. And there are so many parallels to be found to divination and psychic abilities. And - to magic. 

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    1 hour ago, Raggydoll said:

    I did not get that impression at all @Arch. I think we must not judge ‘science’ based on what we were taught back in school or what is commonly believed in society. If we look at what the leading researchers in quantum physics are saying then we get a very different picture. To quote just a couple:

     

    ”As a physicist, I have spent fifty years - my entire life as a researcher - to ask, what it is that hides behind the material. And the result is simple: there is no matter!.. Basically, there is only spirit” - Hans-Peter Durr

     

    “In reality, practically all of the unexpected concepts that quantum physics are using to describe the world were invented by spiritual teachers thousands of years ago” -Lothar Schäfer

     

    I highly recommend you read anything by Lothar Schäfer. I am currently reading his book “Infinite Potential - What quantum physics reveal about how we should live”. He talks about how the latest research in quantum physics point to the collective unconscious actually existing, and that Pythagoras was probably right in saying the universe is based on numbers, and how the ancient Vedic texts are accurately describing our true nature as humans. It’s mind-blowing. And there are so many parallels to be found to divination and psychic abilities. And - to magic. 

    Yes. And the Dalai Lama sometimes talks about how science is discovering things that have been Buddhist concepts for a long time.

    There's no divide, no real opposition. That's evangelical talk. You know, "The earth is 5000 years old and George Washington kept dinosaurs and evolution is badwrong."

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    Starlight

    Posted

    Great article, @Arch, and the discussion has given me some new material to add to my TBR pile. 🙂 Quantum science has been an interest of mine for many years, but I have yet to find an entrypoint that I can understand. (I tried reading Stephen Hawking but it was difficult.)

    Tarot as a bridge to our inner world - absolutely. Thought-provoking.

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    Raggydoll

    Posted

    5 hours ago, katrinka said:

    Yes. And the Dalai Lama sometimes talks about how science is discovering things that have been Buddhist concepts for a long time.

    There's no divide, no real opposition. That's evangelical talk. You know, "The earth is 5000 years old and George Washington kept dinosaurs and evolution is badwrong."

    Absolutely. Deepak Chopra wrote the foreword to Lothars book, so that says a lot. He spoke of how it resonates so well with Vedic scriptures, and those are of course foundational for both Hinduism and Buddhism. I can absolutely find a lot of Buddhist concepts in the book. Dalai Lama is a very wise man indeed, I love listening to his lectures. 

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    Raggydoll

    Posted

    3 hours ago, Starlight said:

    Great article, @Arch, and the discussion has given me some new material to add to my TBR pile. 🙂 Quantum science has been an interest of mine for many years, but I have yet to find an entrypoint that I can understand. (I tried reading Stephen Hawking but it was difficult.)

    Tarot as a bridge to our inner world - absolutely. Thought-provoking.

    You’ll love Lothars book. He is in fact known for his course where he teaches his students to understand what quantum physics actually mean. Previously they would only study details and learn formulas, but his task is to make them see what every principle can teach us about the universe at large and of what our mind has in common with how the universe works. So it’s all about the big picture. And the new discoveries of creation waves is just so fascinating. Plus, the way Carl Jungs work is so greatly respected - who cannot help but love that?! Let me know if you do read it, I’d love to hear your views!

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    Starlight

    Posted

    57 minutes ago, Raggydoll said:

    Let me know if you do read it, I’d love to hear your views!

    I'm really excited to read Lothar now! Should I start with "Infinite Potential" or would you recommended another of his books first? And yes, when science meets psychology with respect, that is really wonderful. Can't wait!

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    Raggydoll

    Posted

    11 minutes ago, Starlight said:

    I'm really excited to read Lothar now! Should I start with "Infinite Potential" or would you recommended another of his books first? And yes, when science meets psychology with respect, that is really wonderful. Can't wait!

    I think you can start with that book, I believe it’s the most up to date one. I was made aware of his works by someone who does shamanic journeying and who felt that quantum physics gave a whole new dimension to understanding those experiences. I’m beginning to see why! 

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    Glad you found the article agreeable @Raggydoll @katrinka and @Starlight

     

    I think some of the points you brought forward is relevant, but at the same time,

    the concerns I see @Joan Marie bring forward is valid as well.

     

    I will try to write a new article that bring those concerns into focus,

    and puts them into context with what I wrote in this article, plus with the insights you shared in the comments.

    Hopefully I will have it ready by the end of the week.

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    Raggydoll

    Posted

    48 minutes ago, Arch said:

    Glad you found the article agreeable @Raggydoll @katrinka and @Starlight

     

    I think some of the points you brought forward is relevant, but at the same time,

    the concerns I see @Joan Marie bring forward is valid as well.

     

    I will try to write a new article that bring those concerns into focus,

    and puts them into context with what I wrote in this article, plus with the insights you shared in the comments.

    Hopefully I will have it ready by the end of the week.

    I look forward to reading it!

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    devin

    Posted (edited)

    I agree with those who say there's no real opposition between science and spirituality. After all, it's worth remembering how one of the founders of the scientific method, Descartes (he of "I think, therefore I am" fame), received the inspiration for his empirical method in a dream in which an angel came to him and proclaimed, "Conquest of nature is to be achieved through number and measure."

     

    The scientific method built on dreams and angels, I love it!

     

    But I think Arch and Joan Marie are right to point out that it's not always that simple in practice. Most of these complications can, as Arch says, be put down to some of the philosophical assumptions that underpin much scientific thought and public pronouncement. I'm thinking here specifically of philosophical materialism and positivism. Materialism holds that everything can be reduced to the interactions of matter. Positivism is the idea that all we can ever really know is what can be derived through the observance of physical processes and that anything else is, at best, not worth bothering with.

     

    As people have pointed out above, these ideas are badly dated. But they do still hold sway and when coupled with the remnants of a mechanistic world-view (thinking the world/creatures can be understood as machines), present a real barrier between science as currently constituted and spirituality.

     

    So the problem is not so much method as prevailing metaphysics.

     

    EDIT: I just thought I'd add that the ground is shifting and that much of this shift can be put down to the growing popularity of pan-psychism in scientific circles. (Pan-pychism is the idea that consciousness is a fundamental and PRIMAL property of existence.)

    Edited by devin

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    I put "Infinite Potential" on my reading list! I don't usually read these kinds of topics but this has me intrigued!

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    Starlight

    Posted

    2 hours ago, Arch said:

    but at the same time,

    the concerns I see @Joan Marie bring forward is valid as well.

    I may have misunderstood @Joan Marie but I thought she was carrying the points you made in the article one step further, and considering the gap between metaphysics and empirical science. Your point was that science is fallible, so tarot critics can't criticise Tarot based on science. Which is the flip side of Joan Marie's point that she *wouldn't* use science to debunk someone's perception of a dead loved one being close to them. (Which is probably more a matter of character and personality, now I think about it.)

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    devin

    Posted (edited)

    38 minutes ago, Starlight said:

    the gap between metaphysics and empirical science.

    But, for me, the real point is the amount of implicit metaphysics contained within the 'scientific' worldview.

    Edited by devin

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    Starlight

    Posted (edited)

    I'm running around after two kiddos 🤪 so I'm making my way super-slowly through this thread. 🙂

    1 hour ago, devin said:

    But, for me, the real point is the amount of implicit metaphysics contained within the 'scientific' worldview.

    As humans, do you mean? Just because we may not have been aware or knowledgeable about metaphysics doesn't mean it wasn't at play, because it's inherent. But is that what you meant, Devin? 🙂

    Edited by Starlight

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    2 hours ago, Starlight said:

    I'm running around after two kiddos 🤪 so I'm making my way super-slowly through this thread. 🙂

    As humans, do you mean? Just because we may not have been aware or knowledgeable about metaphysics doesn't mean it wasn't at play, because it's inherent. But is that what you meant, Devin? 🙂

    Kiddos keeping you fit, are they? Um, yeah, I think what I mean is that when people say things like, "All of human experience is dependant upon or reducible to physical processes," they are making a metaphysical statement, not a scientific one. Am I making sense?

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    Raggydoll

    Posted

    Lothar points out that our language poses a barrier because many of our common expressions are based on erroneous beliefs that makes it difficult for us to embrace new concepts. Like for instance: “It makes no sense” tells us that if something cannot be experienced through our senses is meaningless. And “it doesn’t matter” tells us that anything that isn’t made of matter (and isn’t material) has no importance. So when we constantly say these things we sort of unconsciously brainwash ourselves (that’s how he sees it). 

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    Starlight

    Posted

    If Metaphysical is the relationship between mind and matter, then yes, that makes sense to me. I'm not sure empirical science (observation and testing) can work without the mind. (Can robots observe and test?) There has to be a certain amount of creative thinking involved. Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein - there are a couple of good article about dreams and scientific breakthroughs.

     

    http://thescienceexplorer.com/humanity/5-dreams-led-scientific-breakthroughs-and-innovations

     

    https://www.normanbalberan.com/blog/scientific-breakthroughs-that-happened-in-dreams/

     

    Hmmm. I seem to have wandered from how Tarot fits into this, but perhaps we're circling around and will find our way back to it with lots of new ideas to ponder? 🤔

     

    But yes, scientists, being human, cannot fail to bring the metaphysical into their field.

     

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    Starlight

    Posted

    6 minutes ago, Raggydoll said:

    Lothar points out that our language poses a barrier because many of our common expressions are based on erroneous beliefs that makes it difficult for us to embrace new concepts. Like for instance: “It makes no sense” tells us that if something cannot be experienced through our senses is meaningless. And “it doesn’t matter” tells us that anything that isn’t made of matter (and isn’t material) has no importance. So when we constantly say these things we sort of unconsciously brainwash ourselves (that’s how he sees it). 

    Interesting! That links to something I learned about different languages - language affects how you perceive the world. So, in a nutshell, those who speak French don't see the world the same way someone who speaks English does, or someone who speaks Dutch, or someone who speaks Maori or another Polynesian language. It's like a filter.

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    1 hour ago, Raggydoll said:

    Lothar points out that our language poses a barrier because many of our common expressions are based on erroneous beliefs that makes it difficult for us to embrace new concepts. Like for instance: “It makes no sense” tells us that if something cannot be experienced through our senses is meaningless. And “it doesn’t matter” tells us that anything that isn’t made of matter (and isn’t material) has no importance. So when we constantly say these things we sort of unconsciously brainwash ourselves (that’s how he sees it). 

    Beautiful.

    54 minutes ago, Starlight said:

    If Metaphysical is the relationship between mind and matter, then yes, that makes sense to me. I'm not sure empirical science (observation and testing) can work without the mind. (Can robots observe and test?) There has to be a certain amount of creative thinking involved.

    When I say metaphysics, I'm talking about philosophy. And I reckon the philosophical ground that lurks, mostly unmentioned, behind the current 'scientific worldview' is not compatible with a more 'spiritual' view of existence. But, like I said, the tide is turning. 

     

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    Starlight

    Posted

    6 hours ago, devin said:

    I'm thinking here specifically of philosophical materialism and positivism. Materialism holds that everything can be reduced to the interactions of matter. Positivism is the idea that all we can ever really know is what can be derived through the observance of physical processes and that anything else is, at best, not worth bothering with.

     

    7 minutes ago, devin said:

    When I say metaphysics, I'm talking about philosophy.

    I'm so sorry, you did mention that earlier. I'm slightly distracted so I shall sidle quietly away for the time being...

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    9 hours ago, Starlight said:

    I may have misunderstood @Joan Marie but I thought she was carrying the points you made in the article one step further, and considering the gap between metaphysics and empirical science. Your point was that science is fallible, so tarot critics can't criticise Tarot based on science. Which is the flip side of Joan Marie's point that she *wouldn't* use science to debunk someone's perception of a dead loved one being close to them. (Which is probably more a matter of character and personality, now I think about it.)

    Yeah there is an inbuilt fragility that conflicts with a system that demands to be right and peoples feelings be damned.

    I see that she has clarified her position a bit, so it seems it was mostly about a concern for others meaning.

    Yet the issue is regardless one of deep importance since it is something we in essence contend with every day.

     

    I will have to think some more about it, I'd like to continue with similar topics, since the engagement is so great.

    Though what angle I land on is still up for grabs, I think my initial impulse might not be right due to how this thread panned out.

     

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    23 hours ago, Raggydoll said:

    I did not get that impression at all @Arch. I think we must not judge ‘science’ based on what we were taught back in school or what is commonly believed in society. If we look at what the leading researchers in quantum physics are saying then we get a very different picture. To quote just a couple:

     

    ”As a physicist, I have spent fifty years - my entire life as a researcher - to ask, what it is that hides behind the material. And the result is simple: there is no matter!.. Basically, there is only spirit” - Hans-Peter Durr

     

    “In reality, practically all of the unexpected concepts that quantum physics are using to describe the world were invented by spiritual teachers thousands of years ago” -Lothar Schäfer

     

    I highly recommend you read anything by Lothar Schäfer. I am currently reading his book “Infinite Potential - What quantum physics reveal about how we should live”. He talks about how the latest research in quantum physics point to the collective unconscious actually existing, and that Pythagoras was probably right in saying the universe is based on numbers, and how the ancient Vedic texts are accurately describing our true nature as humans. It’s mind-blowing. And there are so many parallels to be found to divination and psychic abilities. And - to magic. 

     

    That sounds interesting, will keep it in mind moving forward.

     

    I think I have strained my mind enough tonight though,

    there is only so much I can take in/express before the mind closes down this late.

     

     

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