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Is there a canonical non-woowoo history of the tarot?

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Sounds like you've been reading wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-pr...al_archaeology.

The point you seem to be missing is that whatever approach to history that is adopted, it is still based on primary sources of historical evidence, which become the basis for one's critique. Also, that history is constantly being re-written as new evidence appears - rather than it being static due to being based on beliefs.

For instance, in the 1970s cultural-historical feminist historians came up with the idea of a mass slaughter of women during the "Burning Times." All of that had to be radically reconsidered subsequently in light of specific town records across Europe. Far fewer people were killed; in some areas it was mostly men; and midwives (despite a modern tendency to think of midwives and herbalists as witches) were as likely as any other, and, in some cases, more likely, to have turned in people in their communities.

I'd like to recommend a trip to PantheaCon in San Jose CA next February, if you want to see dialogs among academics and pagans - many of whom are both - about so-called Pagan history. Or read the works of Ronald Hutton (a practicing Druid last I heard and outstanding academic historian). Sure there have been critiques of Hutton, but none that have withstood the test of time (other than new evidence that has emerged).
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I don’t miss the point of primary sources, nor that our knowledge of history is constantly being re-written in lieu of new evidence. Rather, I try to express how that is merely a particular setting of one’s scope that is not exclusively synonymous with “Historical Research”. There are recognized comparative approaches in the field which utilize more than just the archival. And, when looking for possible parallels between the cypher of numbered letter-symbols and the Milan-based pattern Tarot, it helps to learn how such a “secondary” source is structured. Dummet’s work, we can agree, is a foundation upon which much of the “non-woo” history of Tarot is built. But his view of the data was limited to the particular ‘setting’ of his ‘scope’, colored by the logical positivism at the root of his analytic philosophy and screened, perhaps, by the imperatives of his faith. Too often, when reading the “serious historians”, I get the sense that Dummet’s paradigm has become gospel without much scrutinizing of his idiosyncratic biases.

[Which reminds me: what were those flaws in his theory you persuaded him with?].

So, if I sound as I if I am rejecting the method, don’t get the wrong impression. I do recognize its value. It’s more an issue of nuance, like the difference between “science” and “scientism”, or inquiry and dogma. A nuance, which I’m sure you can appreciate, tends to get lost on the ‘witch-burning mob’.

Many thanks for the recommendations. I may be in the Bay area around that time and, if can, will make the effort to check it out; and Hutton’s work does sound interesting. But I must admit, the “occultists” I’ve shared my work with don’t seem to appreciate my divulging their ‘secrets’ very much. Not that I’ve sworn any oaths, much less broken ‘em, but save for a few musicians, artists and architects, there ain’t much love for The Fool in those circles. Though I must admit I struggled at first whether to blunder it out in words, here – I mean, who am I to spill the beans? - I did attempt a broad general view of things to see how this ‘basic truth’ had been put to use. Thus came the inevitable conclusion that I couldn’t possibly do any worse with it than the other clowns in this circus. At best, I might impart a deeper appreciation for ‘the bigger picture’ before it’s too late. At worst, some bozos a thousand years from now might worship the number 11.

Though I’m a bit rusty, once upon a time I did get a degree in cultural anthropology. And our discourse of late jogged loose some memories drilled in of theory & methodology. Thus the comparison I drew between various schools of thought in archaeology to the subject of Tarot history came from a sense that a purely logical-positivist materialist approach was like cataloging a timeline of random artifacts, while my own cypher-work had been more akin to experimenting with rocks, knapping spearheads, hunting with atlatl, formulating obscure pottery & glazes, etc., and that the hybrid between the two was really the optimal approach. It is a distinct methodology to Tarot which I hope demonstrates more than a hint of the arcane within the Visconti-Sforza Tarrochi and Tarot de Marsailles, whether intended or not.

Annuit cœptis?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yygdrasilian View Post
[Which reminds me: what were those flaws in his theory you persuaded him with?].
Did I mention flaws in his theory? Don't think so. Just a couple of minor errors in interpreting some facts. Nothing that would change his theories or that would make sense without an entire context.
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Wittgenstein was concerned with what could be expressed meaningfully in language, and his definition of meaningfulness was a rather narrow concept based on formal logic. He did not deny that there is 'the other', but only that it could not be expressed 'meaningfully'.

The problem is that this leaves no room for poetry and metaphysics. The 'other' may indeed be discussed by way of metaphor, but this is inexact and itself subject to varied interpretations. Wittgenstein's original idea is an attempt to insure that whatever is written within the confines of logical positivism is not ambiguous, but specific. This nowadays is considered too restrictive.

Wittgenstein was a mystic, but his view of language was that it is not formulated to express the mystical in a meaningful fashion.
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" I. Since truth is supra-rational, it is incommunicable in the language of reason.

II. Hence all mystics have written nonsense, and what sense they have written is so far untrue.

III. Yet as a still lake yields a truer reflection of the sun than a torrent, he whose mind is best balanced will, if he become a mystic, become the best mystic. "

IMO mystical (or unconscious, or imagination ) based concepts are best expressed by image and symbol. In some realms , words just dont cut it ... unless it is the language of symbolism, which is difficult in itself.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenest View Post
" I. Since truth is supra-rational, it is incommunicable in the language of reason.

II. Hence all mystics have written nonsense, and what sense they have written is so far untrue.

III. Yet as a still lake yields a truer reflection of the sun than a torrent, he whose mind is best balanced will, if he become a mystic, become the best mystic. "

IMO mystical (or unconscious, or imagination ) based concepts are best expressed by image and symbol. In some realms , words just dont cut it ... unless it is the language of symbolism, which is difficult in itself.
Exactly. That's why there are at least a dozen other sections for discussing supra-rational Tarot on this forum and only one section for discussing 'rational' Tarot Research - and now there's none.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Exactly. That's why there are at least a dozen other sections for discussing supra-rational Tarot on this forum and only one section for discussing 'rational' Tarot Research - and now there's none.
Sure there is - just other things are allowed in there too. And one HELL of a lot of now-accepted history started with someone's wild theory.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory View Post
Sure there is - just other things are allowed in there too. And one HELL of a lot of now-accepted history started with someone's wild theory.
If you're right, then what is the distinction between this forum and the others? Plus, sorry if I sound confrontational, but are there examples of accepted , peer reviewed historical facts that were ascertained through "wild theories," by which I'm assuming means lacking precedent, connectivity to previous works, not being derived from existing evidence, etc? I mean, wild theory automatically makes me think of Schliemann, but he isn't an example of anything, and didn't actually discover what he said he did...
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I don't know of any historical examples, but in physics there have been seemingly wild theories proposed, such as Einstein's theory of gravity as due to curvature in the fabric of space-time, or Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in quantum theory, which have been accepted as correct. However, they were not really wild speculation, but were grounded in observation and mathematical deduction.
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Tarot was created on Mars as the result of eating green cheese.

If wild speculation is to be accepted as historical research without the need for concrete evidence or the use of formal logic then all speculations are equal in merit. Personal opinion becomes the only standard and people might as well vote on the speculations they like best. Please, just don't call it "Historical Research" any more! Facts are not verified via an opinion poll.
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