Astrology on Trial, and its Historians: Reflections on the Historiography of ‘Superstition’

Author: Dr. Patrick Curry
Abstract: This paper is an historiographical inquiry into some problems that arise when confronted with so-called supernatural, irrational or superstitious phenomena in human history. Other descriptions are possible, of course, but none of them without at least some question-begging – something that itself points to the principal problem. As an initial formulation, let us define that as follows: how can the historian describe and explain these phenomena without participating in the very processes – characteristically, to coin a phrase, ones of power/knowledge – that produced them in the first place?1 And this problem becomes especially acute when the discourse in question, like astrology (but unlike, say, phrenology) is still the subject of contemporary controversy. This is not something I hope to resolve here, but perhaps I can improve the quality of the questions it raises.
Publication: Culture and Cosmos
Issue: Vol 4 No 1
Dated: Spring/Summer 2000
Pages: 3 – 9

Posted in Free Research Abstract