The Astrology of Marsilio Ficino: Divination or Science? by Angela Voss
In 1477 the Florentine philosopher Marsilio Ficino wrote, but did not publish, a vehement attack on the practices of astrologers; his Disputatio contra iudicium astrologorum. Anyone reading this text would assume that the author found the very foundations of traditional astrology ready for demolition by the power of Reason and the authority of God’s Providence. ‘All this is poetic metaphor’ exclaims Ficino, surveying the absurdity of astrological terminology, ‘not reason or knowledge’ (totum hoc poetica metaphora est, non ratio vel scientia). Astrologers, he asserts, use ‘silly similitudes’ (pueriles similitudines), they fabricate rules – often inconsistently – attribute imaginary powers to the stars and claim to predict concrete events. But how, asks Ficino, can they know what will happen in ten years’ time, when they do not know what they themselves will be doing today?