Psychological Astronomy /  Joshua Alan Sturgill

Ptolemaic Cosmology, with its epicycles and deferents and nested spheres, is not primarily a description of the nighttime sky. Ptolemy (and the tradition he represents) is describing the inner life of the soul, using the phenomena of the heavens as illustration and example.

Ptolemy’s “telescope” was philosophythe love of wisdomand thus a desire to direct the soul’s movement in conformity with the perfect movement of the planets and stars. The soul could be returned to order and beauty by measuring it against the beautiful Cosmos from which the soul comes and to which it returns. The ancient cosmology was as much or more concerned with psychology as astronomy.

With this in mind, we find that the textbooks are wrong about Ptolemy’s fate. We are told that the Copernican astrological model replaced the Ptolemaic. But the two men were working on very different projects. Therefore, there is a much clearer and constructive comparison we could make, and it is this:

We haven’t replaced Ptolemy with Copernicus, Kepler or Galileo; we’ve replaced him with Freud.


All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2019 by Joshua Alan Sturgill

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