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#34 Astrology and the Scientific Revolution, A Reappraisal

Updated: May 9

Conversation with H. Darrel Rutkin

(Ca’ Foscari University, Venezia)


Saturday, January 22th 2022

The recording of this session is available for $10.

There was once a time, not so very long ago, when astrology was studied, practiced and taught in the finest medieval, Renaissance and early modern European universities. Almost all of the most important scientists from the past--from #Ptolemy to #Galileo and #Kepler and beyond--were all practicing astrologers, except #Newton (who was an alchemist).

With Galileo we have a #manuscript with 27 horoscopes in his own hand, including his own and his daughters, for which he made interpretations as well!


The studies of astrology were embedded within, and both generated and integrated many types of scientific knowledge, especially in mathematics, natural philosophy and medicine. In the modern and postmodern worlds, on the other hand, astrology was delegitimized and removed from the map of legitimate knowledge and practice, thereby becoming a member of the so-called occult or esoteric sciences, and ultimately the alternative language of knowledge and praxis that she is today, in a process that is not yet fully understood.

This epistemological shift—astrology’s downgrading and removal from the map of legitimate knowledge—marked an epoch-making transformation from premodern to modern in the history of science and culture.


This talk will present some of the new understanding that is emerging about the medieval, Renaissance and early modern map of knowledge from ca. 1250 to ca. 1600 and attempt to reframe our understanding of the medieval, Renaissance and early modern knowledge matrix—in both conceptual and institutional respects—out of which modern science was born.


My guest, an Assistant Professor at Università Ca’Foscari in Venice, H Darrel Rutkin PhD is a Historian of Science specializing in the history of medieval, Renaissance and early modern astrology. In 2019, he published the first volume of ultimately three-volume monograph, Sapientia Astrologica: Astrology, Magic and Natural Knowledge, ca. 1250-1800 with Springer. The first volume is entitled “Medieval Structures (1250-1500): Conceptual, Institutional, Socio-Political, Theologico-Religious and Cultural.” He is currently working on the Renaissance volume II which primarily treats the thought of Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.





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