Introduction: Astrology, Extraterrestrial Life and Astrobiology

  • James E. Christie
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 228)


The history of astrology and the history of the extraterrestrial life debate are largely kept separate, for reasons both chronological and historiographical. In fact, there was a large period of overlap in which many historical actors seriously considered and wrote on the concepts of both celestial influence and celestial inhabitation. The history of astrobiology, understood broadly as the study of ‘life in a cosmic context’, offers a potential avenue for exploring the relationships between astrology and cosmic pluralism in the early modern period. The two main theses of the book are presented: (a) that evolving theories of celestial influence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries encouraged speculation about extraterrestrial life, and (b) that as the seventeenth century progressed, certain thinkers began to consciously oppose the concepts of influence and inhabitation as rival teleological models for astronomical cosmology, with the latter emerging triumphant. The rest of the chapter comprises a literature review, a section on terminology, and a section on methodology, assessing the usefulness of Kuhn’s ‘paradigms’ and Lovejoy’s ‘unit-ideas’ in approaching the subject matter.


Astrology Astrobiology Extraterrestrial life Plurality of worlds Pluralism Teleology 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James E. Christie
    • 1
  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

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