Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (1999) “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition” (Part 1 of 12)

0001 In 1999 AD, Michael Tomasello, then co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, publishes the work before me (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts).

To me, this work marks the start of the author’s twenty year journey, culminating in a theory of human ontogeny, published in 2019.  The word, “ontogeny”, refers to human development and associates to the human phenotype.

0002 What interests me in Tomasello’s journey?

As noted in Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) Adam and the Genome (available at smashwords and other e-book venues), “phenotype” and “adaptation” are not the same.  Instead, these labels apply to distinct actualities that coalesce into a single actuality.  One may call that single actuality, an individual, a species or a genus.  One may also call that single actuality, “a mystery”.

I am interested in the natural history side of the mystery of human evolution.  However, the genetic (or ontogenetic) side cannot be ignored.  Plus, natural history cannot be reduced to genetics, or visa versa

0003 Chapter one of Tomasello’s book is titled, “A Puzzle and a Hypothesis”.

Of course, a puzzle is not a mystery.  A puzzle can be resolved.  A mystery cannot.

The puzzle starts with genetics.  Geneticists have examined the DNA of chimpanzees, bonobos and humans and predict that the last common ancestor lives 6 or 7 Myr (six or seven million years ago).

In contrast, physical anthropologists (natural historians) propose the fossil record noted in the following figure.  With terminological sleight of hand, they refer to human ancestors as “hominins”, even though the old term for any bipedal primate (ape or human) is “hominid”. 

0004 Hmmm. Does the puzzle concern time?

According to genetics, the last common ancestor (LCA) between chimpanzees and humans lives 7 Myr (millions of years ago).  But, little significant shows up in the fossil record until 4 Myr.  Our lineage obviously evolves feet first.  As it turns out, starting around 5 Myr, the extent of tropical vegetation in Africa decreases due to desiccation.  Bipedality is an adaptation to mixed forest and savannah.

0005 The fossil record provides other clues, especially stone tools.

The first stone tools are Oldowan.  Oldowan stones tools are constructed on site.  They are used to scrape meat off of bone and to crack long bones (that are full of fatty marrow).

Acheulean stone tools appear later in the archeological record.  Acheulean stone tools are made beforehand and carried with some intention in mind.  They have the appearance of a giant tooth.  Notably, Acheulean stone tool technology remains unchanged for over a million years.  Innovations in stone-tools follow the domestication of fire.

0006 Surely, these two tables are puzzling.  In the first, the fossil record pertains to changes in hominin phenotypes.  In the second, the fossil record pertains to hominin adaptations, but these adaptations are not phenotypic. They are artifacts.  Are these adaptive artifacts cultural?  Are they behavioral?  I wonder, “Do the words, ‘culture’ and ‘behavior’, capture the matter and the form of these artifacts?”  It is as if an adaptation recognizes matter and generates form.

0007 What is the nature of the adaptation that maintains (and occasionally changes) artifacts, as if these artifacts are phenotypes?

Tomasello suggests that an adaptation is a novel form of social cognition.  Our lineage adapts to a new way of thinking about one another, eventually allowing sociogenesis, new styles of learning and cultural evolution.

0008 Tomasello proposes that there is one adaptation that potentiates subsequent adaptations.

Razie Mah proposes that there is one ultimate niche for our lineage.  The hypothesis is presented in the e-book, The Human Niche (available at smashwords and other e-book venues).

0009 Do Tomasello (in 1999) and Mah (in 2018) propose that our lineage is defined by the same adaptation… er… niche?

What is the difference between an adaptation and a niche?

To these questions, I next attend.


Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (1999) “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition” (Part 12 of 12)

0072 Chapter five is titled, “Linguistic Construction and Event Cognition”.  The perspective-level linguistic communication2c participates in ongoing events2a.

Tomasello claims that joint attention is the key adaptation from which subsequent adaptations proceed.  Surely, the three-level interscope depicted above does not contradict this claim.

After all, the evolution of joint attention should precede the evolution of linguistic communication.

0073 However, there is a disjunction, because great apes show few (if any) tendencies that may be characterized by joint attention.  Even the occasional monkey hunt by chimpanzees is best characterized by several individuals deciding to pursue the same thing at the same time.  The monkey-prey is the focus of attention, but the attention is disjointed, not really coordinated.

So, there must be a period before the evolution of joint attention, where individual intentionality reigns, even when group action takes place.

0074 So, when are these eras happening?

Tomasello wants to place the evolution of joint attention before the time of Homo heidelbergensis, who appears in the fossil record between 800 and 400kyr (thousands of years ago).

To me, this makes sense only so far as this.

Homo heidelbergensis leaves traces of cultural behavior in the archeological record.

To me, such traces indicate that these hominins are in the subsequent build-on era.

So, Tomasello’s timeline may require clarification.

0075 Okay, now that I am nitpicking, I must ask, “Is there a problem with making joint attention2a the foundation of an evolutionary theory?”

Allow me to return to Tomasello’s vision.

0076 According to Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) Adam and the Genome (by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues), adaptation2 and phenotype2 belong to two independent scientific disciplines: natural history and genetics.  Since both belong to situation-level nested forms that rely on different potentials, one cannot situate or contextualize the other.  However, this is precisely what occurs in Tomasello’s vision.

Of course, Tomasello’s vision remains a breakthrough in the framework of modern science.  At least, the phenotype does not correspond to the adaptation.  Instead, the phenotype2c puts culture2b into perspective.  Then, culture2b virtually situates the adaptation of joint attention2a.

Yes, to repeat, the phenotype2c does not directly situate the adaptation2a.  Tomasello’s vision leads upwards from joint attention2a to human culture2b and then to human cognitive development2c. Cognitive development2c puts culture2b into perspective, just as culture2b virtually situates joint attention2a.

Tomasello’s vision is truly remarkable.

0077 And, it is difficult to achieve.

This book is the start of a twenty year journey.

0078 As noted in points 0055 through 0058, the last few chapters cover the cultural (situation) and ontogenetic (perspective) levels of Tomasello’s vision.  As far as I can see, these chapters labor to show how human ontogeny2c (the scientific study of human development) virtually contextualizes human culture2b (a somewhat vaguely defined term that refers to all situations where joint attention2a pertains).  In the process, Tomasello must also explain how human culture2b, especially spoken language and symbolic representation, virtually emerges from and situates joint attention2a.

How ambitious is that?

0079 Here a picture of the virtual nested form in the realm of actuality (the vertical column in secondness in Tomasello’s vision, portrayed as a nested form).

The normal context of the behavior of newborns and infants2c virtually brings the actuality of spoken language and symbolic representation2b into the potential of a foundational adaptation2a.

0080 Yes, this is very ambitious, and the final three chapters of this book strain to meet the challenge.  They should be read with this in mind.  The last three chapters are well composed.  Tomasello is an excellent writer.  He is very organized.  But, his exposition is like lifting a two-hundred pound octopus out of the water.  As soon as one arm is lifted, a different one slides back into the murk.

0081 Plus, there is the lingering issue of natural history.

Here is a picture with Tomasello’s guesses.

Tomasello makes two associations that make no sense at all, when considering joint attention2b as an adaptation to sociogenesis1b in the normal context of natural selection3b.  Sociogenesis1b is the human niche1b.  The human niche1b is the potential1b of triadic relations2a.  Consequently, the adaptation of joint attention2a should be marked in the archaeological record with the appearance of the Homo genus, around 1.8Myr (millions of years ago).

0082 With that in mind, I close this examination of the first step in Tomasello’s journey, scientifically exploring who we are.  The next step is a book that expands and clarifies this first step.  It is published nine years later.


Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (2008) “Origins of Human Communication” (Part 1 of 12)

0083 In 2008 AD, Michael Tomasello, then co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, publishes the work before me (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts).

This book is the second marker in Tomasello’s intellectual journey.  I start following his journey with Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (1999) “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition” (appearing in Razie Mah’s January 2024 blog).  That is the first marker.

0084 The second marker starts as an academic presentation in 2006.  His Jean Nicod Lectures, in Paris, concerns his work on great ape gestural communication, human infant gestural communication and human children’s language development.  These lectures attempt to construct one coherent account of the evolution of hominin communication.

Oh, that terminology.  Where Tomasello inscribes, “human”, I say, “hominin”.

0085 From my examination at the first marker, I already have a guess about Tomasello’s vision.

Here is a picture.

0086 Note that the titles of the levels have changed.

Also note that human ontogeny2c or models of child development currently built by psychologists2c, associates to phenotypes and genetics.  Joint attention2a or models in evolutionary psychology concerning hominin cognition2a,associates to adaptations and natural history.

0087 Tomasello uses the word, “origins”, in his title.  Does this suppose that human communication may be regarded as a phenotypic trait or as an adaptation?  Or maybe, the conjunction is “and”.

In the above figure, I get the idea that the phenotype virtually contextualizes the adaptation.  But, that is not really the case.  The phenotype2b virtually situates a species’ or individual’s DNA2a.

Here is a diagram.

0088 Not surprisingly, this diagram in genetics has the same two-level relational structure as Darwin’s paradigm for natural history.

0089 What does this imply?

A mystery stands at the heart of evolutionary biology.

The adaptation is not the same as the phenotype.

Yet, together, they constitute a single actuality, which may be labeled a genus, a species or an individual.

Two category-based nested forms intersect in the realm of actuality.  It is like two streets that meet.  The intersection is constituted by both streets.  As far as traffic goes, intersections are sites of dangerous contradictions.  Traffic from one street should not collide with traffic from the other street.  I suppose that the intersection of adaptation and phenotypecarries irreconcilable contradictions as well.

0090 Perhaps, Tomasello’s vision may be resolved by considering both joint attention2a and human ontogeny2c as adaptations, even though the latter is technically, phenotypic.

I suggest this because selection is the normal context for all three levels in Tomasello’s vision.  Since natural selection goes with adaptation, the vision is one of natural history.

0091 That implies that the potentials for all three levels are like niches.

Human ontogeny2c is an adaptation that emerges from and situates the potential of human culture2b, where human culture2b is like an actuality independent of the adapting species of individuals undergoing development3c.

Human culture2b is like an adaptation that emerges from and situates the potential of joint attention2a, where joint attention2a is like an actuality independent of the adapting ways of doing things3b.

Joint attention2a is like an adaptation that emerges from and situates sociogenesis1a, where sociogenesis1a is the potential of… what?… I have run out of actualities independent of the adapting species.

0092 Here is where the foundational Tomasello-Mah synthesis enters the picture.

Ah, so here is a problem.

Tomasello’s vision of the origins of human communication conceals the actuality underlying sociogenesis1athe potential1a giving rise to joint attention2a.  The human niche is the potential of triadic relations.

0093 What about the subscripts in the preceding paragraph?

They belong to Tomasello’s vision.

0094 This subscript business can be confusing.

To me, the concealment in Tomasello’s vision is not necessarily a drawback.  Rather, it presents an opportunity to re-articulate Tomasello’s arc of inquiry using the category-based nested form and other triadic relations.

0095 In the prior series of blogs, examining a book published in 1999, I introduced an interscope for the way humans think that derives from work by medieval schoolmen, the so-called “scholastics” of the Latin Age.

Here is a picture of the scholastic version of how humans think, packaged as a three level interscope.


Looking at John Deely’s Book (2010) “Semiotic Animal”  (Part 1 of 22)

0001 The full title of Deely’s book is Semiotic Animal: A Postmodern Definition of “Human Being” Transcending Patriarchy and Feminism: to supersede the ancient and medieval ‘animal rationale’ along with the modern ‘res cogitans’.  The book is published in 2010 by St. Augustine’s Press in South Bend, Indiana.

John Deely (1942-2017 AD) starts as a Thomist interested in Heidegger and becomes a semiotician.  He becomes a really, really good promoter of the study of signs.  He writes a history of philosophy from the point of view of the revelation… or, is it discovery?.. that the sign is a triadic relation. For years, he teaches at University of Saint Thomas, Houston.  He retires, moves to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, home of St. Vincent’s College, then dies.

This examination is to be read in parallel with or after reading (and writing marginalia) in Deely’s book.  My argument may run like a dog on a long leash, compared to Deely’s argument.  But, there is reason for the analogy.  Thirteen years have passed since publication and five years since Deely’s burial, and the Age of Triadic Relations continues to manifest.

Semiotics is the study of signs.  A sign is a triadic relation.

0002 Chapter one considers a question that we ask ourselves.

Humans, what type of animals are they?

Chapter two addresses the answer.

0003 Modern philosophy starts (more or less) when Rene Descartes (1596-1650 AD) presents a sensation, as an idea and an image where the object of experience directs a construct of the mind.  Consequently, he regards humans as thinking things… or the owners of thinking things (minds)… or something like that.

In terms of Peirce’s philosophy, there are two contiguous actualities, characteristic of the category of secondness.  They are an object of experience and a construct of the mind.  The contiguity (which, for nomenclature, is placed in brackets) is “directs”.

Here is a picture of Descartes’ dyadic actuality.  In Latin, the title is “res cogitans“.

Figure 01

0005 As already noted, this hylomorphic structure is coherent with Peirce’s category of secondness.  The actuality corresponds to a sensation. Sensation exhibits a dyadic character.  Sensation is like cause [and] effect or matter [substantiating] form.

There is an implicit claim that this dyad describes the way humans think.

Plus, a superior claim (not realized until Charles Peirce (1839-1914 AD) wrote about it) may be asserted.  Humans think in terms of triadic relations, such a signs, mediations, judgments and category-based nested forms.

Say what?

See A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form and A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

0006 With the superior claim in mind, it is no surprise that when later philosophers build epistemologies upon Descartes’ foundation, they end up shifting Descartes’ terms out of secondness, the realm of actuality, and into thirdness, the realm of normal contexts, and firstness, the realm of possibility.  

Here is a category-based nested form that sort of captures Kant’s epistemology.

Figure 02

The normal context of the mind3 brings the actuality of an object of experience2 into relation with the potential of a particular condition1. What is that condition? The thing itself [cannot be objectified as] what one sees, hears, smells, tastes or touches.

0007 So, the experience of the five senses2 becomes an object2 as it simultaneously is contextualized by the mind3 and arises from the potential of a particular condition1.  Plus, the particular condition1 is that the object of experience cannot be the thing itself1.

It sort of like saying that my image in a mirror is not me, even though I appear to be the object of experience.

0008 Welcome to modern… philosophy?… er… science?

The Positivist’s judgment formalizes the quasi-Kantian category-based nested form by thirdly, replacing the mind3 with a positivist intellect3.  The positivist intellect3 rules out metaphysics.  Secondly, the object of experience2 is replaced by an empirio-schematic judgment2, where disciplinary language (relation) brings observations and measurements of phenomena (what is) into relation with mathematical or mechanical models (what ought to be).  Firstly, the thing itselfand what one senses1 are replaced by Latin terms, the noumenon and its phenomena1.

Here is a diagram of the Positivist’s judgment as a category-based nested form.

Figure 03

0009 The implications of the conversion of Descartes’ dyadic formula for sensation to a modern quasi-Kantian nested form for how humans think are most curious.

It seems that the construct of the mind weaves a normal context3 and potential1, sort of like a spider spinning a web in the hope of catching a flying insect.  The metaphorical flying insect, is an experience2 that immediately becomes an object2as the manifestation of the realness of the normal context3 and potential1.  Plus, the object2 is inside of the observer and the thing itself1 remains (potentially) on the outside.

Similarly, for the Positivist’s judgment, the scientist weaves the normal context of the positivist intellect3 with the potential that phenomena1 may be the observable and measurable facets of a noumenon1, then waits for observations and measurements (what is) to reveal patterns that can be modeled (what ought to be) and discussed with disciplinary precision (relation between what is and what ought to be)2.  One of the oldest adages in science says, “First, observe phenomena.  Second, explain them.”

0010 What a curious implication.

It is almost as if the construct of the mind is looking for an actuality2 that fits its ideals.  And when it does, it transforms whatever enters the realm of actuality, such as an experience2 or a measurement2, into an object2 or an empirio-schematic judgment2.


Looking at John Deely’s Book (2010) “Semiotic Animal”  (Part 22 of 22)

0172 Deely concludes with a sequel concerning the need to develop a semioethics.

The meeting of the two semiotic animals in the previous blog is a case study.

Surely, that brief clash of objective worlds entails ethics, however one defines the word, “ethics”.

Perhaps, the old word for “ethics” is “morality”.

0173 Deely publishes in 2010.

Thirteen years later, his postmodern definition of the human takes on new life.  This examination shows how far semiotics has traveled, swirling around the stasis of a Plutonic publishing world where Cerebus guards the gates.  Please throw a sop to the editors in order to publish, rather than perish.  While academics guard the way to the underworld of professional success, Deely looks down from the heavens above.

And what does he say?

Humans are semiotic animals.

0174 Okay, I have to correct myself.

I don’t know whether Deely is looking down from a heavenly perch.

Surely, many will sheepishly testify to his devilish, as well as his angelic, qualities.

As a shepherd, he is always trying to lead his rag-tag flock of semioticians, explorers and Thomists.  He gets so far as to impress upon every one in his flock the validity of his claim that humans are semiotic animals.

0175 Razie Mah takes that lesson to heart and asks, “If humans are semiotic animals, then how did they evolve?”

The resulting three masterworks are available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

An Archaeology of the Fall appears in 2012, followed by an instructor’s guide.

How to Define the Word “Religion” appears in 2015, followed by ten primers.

The Human Niche appears in 2018, along with four commentaries.

As it turns out, no contemporary scientist takes Deely’s claim seriously. Yet, the implications are enormous.  If humans are semiotic animals, then triadic relations must be key to understanding human evolution.

0176 This examination of Deely’s book takes that lesson one step further.

The specifying and exemplar signs step out from Comments on John Deely’s Book (1994) New Beginnings as expressions of premodern scholastic insight.

The interventional sign steps out from Comments on Sasha Newell’s Article (2018) “The Affectiveness of Symbols” and establishes a postmodern life of its own.

0177 Humans are semiotic animals and how we got here shines like a revelation.


How much potential does tiny Pluto have?

In the last two blogs, I discuss a contemporary gift, from modern magi to Christian newborns, in the parallel relational construction of astrology and the Thomist’s insight into primary and secondary causation.

Here is a picture of the association of primary and secondary causation with the category-based nested form.

Figure 1

For astrologers, the superlunary sphere parallels primary causation.  The sublunary plane matches secondary causation.

Here is how that looks.

Figure 2

My example entails a celestial event on January 20, 2020, the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto at the edge of the constellation of Capricorn, teetering into Aquarius.

Saturn is a massive planet.  It is visible to the unaided eye.  Ancient astrologers tracked this “roving star”.

Pluto is a dwarf planet, invisible to the naked eye.  It is 0.2% the volume of Earth.  Tiny Pluto is discovered in 1931, during search of the Knieper Belt, inspired by a perceived incongruity in the orbit of Neptune.

The year of discovery stands between the two great Battels of the Enlightenment gods, the naïve battle among the Mercantilist gods (1914-1918) and the hot battle among the Fraternal Ideologies (1939-1945).  What better time to discover a distant invisible roving star and label it with the name of the pagan god of the underworld?

Pluto seems large at first.  Improved measurements reduce its size.  More dwarf planets have been found.  Eris, discovered in 2005, is slightly larger than Pluto.

So, why would a modern astrologer worry about Pluto?

Why not only follow the visible planets tracked by our ancestors?

The periodicity of Saturn is a little over 28 years.  Many modern humans live to see two full orbits.  This short periodicity may capture the psychology of the mundane world, but not the sociology.  Sociology requires longer periodicities.  Pluto’s circuit of 248 years fits the bill, as do the legitimate planets of Uranus (discovered in 1781, 84-year orbit) and Neptune (discovered in 1846, 165-year orbit).

What does this imply?

The addition of unseen, distant planets with multi-generational periodicities offer modern astrologers the long periods useful for sociological readings.

Now, I return to the nested form for the conjunction of Pluto and Saturn in the constellation, Capricorn.  The Wuhan plague starts right before the inauguration of this year of the rat.

Both the mundane event and the celestial conjunction are real.  An actual event2 occurs on Earth.  A potentiating event1occurs in the heavens, within the normal context of Capricorn3.

However, the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto is also actual2.

Is there a way to configure the category-based nested form in order to account for the realness of the celestial event?

Yes.  One way follows Peirce’s secondness.  Secondness consists of two contiguous real elements.  The nomenclature is one real element [contiguity] other real element.  For example, I could write, celestial event [contiguity] mundane event.  However, there is no material or instrumental causality between these two real elements.  So, this route is blocked.

Another way is to construct two category-based nested forms and hierarchically arrange them.  One nested form enters a situation level (corresponding to actuality).  The other nested form enters a content level (corresponding to potential).

The relation between situationb and contenta is the same as between actuality2 and potential1.  Yet, the relation occurs between nested forms, rather than elements with a single nested.  The qualifier “virtual” (meaning, “in virtue”) denotes the distinction.  Situationb virtually emerges from (and situates) contenta.

In sum, the actuality in the celestial sphere2a may be distinctly separated from the mundane plane2a through a two-level interscope, as described in A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.

Here is how that looks.

According to this sensible (two-level) construction, the mundane plane2b virtually emerges from (and situates) the celestial sphere2a.  

Ironically, this relational structure also applies to both genetics and natural selection, as demonstrated in Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) Adam and the Genome, as well as Speculations on Thomism and Evolution.

Notable, for both genetics and natural selection, the content levela is relatively independent of the situation levelb and contains a potential1b exploited by the situation levelb.  For astrology, the situation levelb places the content levela within a mythic framework1b that is tested by the congruence between actuality2b and potential1b, in the normal context of astrology3b.

The fall of Wuhan2b passes the test and addresses the question, “How much potential does the miniscule Pluto have?”

But there is more.

The celestial drama of Pluto, Saturn and Jupiter entering into Capricorn2a can be read in light of events on earth2b.

Pluto enters into the constellation of Capricorn on November, 2008, during a world-wide financial crisis.  Easy-finance mortgages, packaged in the USA, are sold throughout the world.  When the bubble bursts, powerful Wall Street companies swoon.

Central banks save the day by propping up financial firms.  In the following years, debt levels rise, extraordinarily, surpassing the debts of 2008.

Now, in early 2020, dozens of economic bubbles are ready to pop.

In 2008, the H1N1 virus jumps to humans in Mexico.  In 2009, the so-called “swine flu” produces a small panic.

Meanwhile, in 2007, Chinese and American scientists collaborate on research into the SARS virus, which swept through Asia four years earlier.  They publish detailed studies of bat-associated coronaviruses.  This work is continued by scientists at the Wuhan Virology Institute, with subsequent publications, even to the unfortunate outbreak.

All it takes is a small tear in a bio-protective suit to release a genetically modified virus into the populace.

Pluto is a tiny player.  Yet, events2b in the fields of finance and virology readily play into the image of a minute celestial being, fully capable of exerting its influence within each constellation2a.  Pluto is a sign of death and renewal.  Capricorn is associated with sovereign power and political order.

In contrast to dwarf planet Pluto, Saturn is massive.  Saturn enters the constellation of Capricorn in December 2017.

At the time, in the USA, President Donald Trump finishes the first year of his term.  National politics is rent by (false) corporate media narrative explaining why Hillary Clinton loses the 2016 election.  The (fraudulently initiated) Mueller investigation offers promise for revenge.  (Innocent) General Michael Flynn (under tainted legal counsel) pleads guilty to lying to the FBI.  Republican candidate, Roy Moore, loses a senate bid in Alabama under the weight of (numerous, manufactured and media-driven) accusations (for sexual misbehavior 30 years prior).  Q posts on the dark web for the first time (and is later vilified and ignored by corporate media).  A foot of snow falls in Georgia.  The city of Atlanta is paralyzed.  Facebook admits censorship.

Worldwide, Britain triggers article 50 of the EU constitution.  Mohammad Bin Salman becomes heir to the Saudi throne.  The nineteenth congress of the Chinese Communist Party names Xi Jinping to a second five-year term, then ends without naming a successor.

Saturn is all about time.  Time reveals all things.  Already, in the first quarter of 2020, the American news of 2017 is shown to be deceptive (see parentheses above).  World news of late 2017 is similarly qualified as Saturn passes through Capricorn.

Jupiter enters Capricorn in December 2019.  It will leave December 2020, after Saturn and Pluto are no longer in retrograde.  The mythic attributes of Pluto, Saturn and Jupiter entangle.  The first complete conjunction occurs January 12, 2020.  Pluto leverages the weight of Saturn in a mythic story1b, telling of the fall of Wuhan and the spread of a novel coronavirus2b.  The mundane plane1b resonates with the celestial sphere2a.

What lesson can I draw?

The story, told above, addresses history and sociology.  Pluto’s advantage comes from its extraordinarily long periodicity.  It lingers within each constellation.  It moves slowly, just like sociological transformations.  Seven visible planets go into conjunction with Pluto as it passes through each constellation.  Saturn goes into conjunction with Pluto every 33 years.

The last time Pluto passes through Capricorn is from 1762 to 1779, during the corruption of Louis XV in France.  King George III rules Britain and milks her colonies.  Frederick II serves Prussia, winning battles and promoting Enlightenment ideas.  Maria Theresa, daughter of Charles III, rules the Hapsburg Empire.  Catherine the Great captures the throne in Russia.  The Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth suffers losses in 1772.  Mohammad Karim Khan Zand rules Persia, ending 40 years of war.  The Ottoman Empire suffers peace and militarily falls behind its European rivals.

1762 through 1779 marks a calm before the storms of the French revolution and the American insurrection.  Germany, Russia and Austria partition Poland. The Enlightenment reformer, Joseph II, follows Maria Theresa.  Persia enters civil war after the death of its regent.

In many ways, the current transit of Pluto recapitulates its previous passage through Capricorn.  The deaths and rebirths of many political-religious unions are already underway, include those political systems that claim to be “not religious”.

The long periodicities of Pluto, Neptune and Uranus offer modern astrologers a vantage not available to ancient astrologers.  Long periodicities allow the contemplation of a sociological spiral through history.  The ancient astrologers thought that the mundane world lives within celestial cycles.  Now, modern astrologers imagine a spiral, where celestial cycles are superimposed on an unfolding that transcends the rhythms of the heavens.

The wise men in the gospel of Matthews catch a glimpse of this theodrama, when they lay their gifts before an infant king.  They follow the stars.  Look what happens.  Surely, they did not anticipate…

Astrology expresses the same relational structure as genetics and natural selection.  Yet, it operates to bring the mundane plane into mythical union with the celestial sphere.

Astrology also expresses the same relational structure as primary and secondary causation, offering an intimation (or proof) on the actuality of God.

Just as, in astrology, the motions of the celestial bodies2a are independent of events on the earthly plane2b, yet are situated by the mundane1b, the actuality of God2a stands independent of primary3b,1b and secondary2b causalities, yet is situated by themb.

The primary causalities of the Divine Will3b and the Divine Presence1b do not physically move.  Secondary causalities2b, exhibited by creatures, facilitate bodily motion.  The actuality of God2a gives rise to the unmoved (Divine Presence1b) Mover (Divine Will3b), just as a celestial actuality2a underlies the zodiac’s constellation3b and the astrologer’s reading1b.

This implies that, just as the planets move before stationary luminaries in the celestial actuality2athe actuality of Godmoves before the actuality of God within the Divine Realness2a.

These parallels are gifts, from the astrologer, to the modern scholastic.