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Why Aristotelian-Medieval Science is like Avatar the Last Airbender, Part 3: Astrology

We are assigned our humoral temperament based on our astrological sign. Here’re some words you’ll finally recognize. The Aristotelian scientists subscribed to the same idea that we have today that there are twelve zodiac signs: Aeries, Taurus, Leo, Cancer, and so forth. Every month as the Earth progressed around the sun (though they didn’t know it yet), the zodiac sign visible to Earth would appear different. Every month was assigned to the constellation of stars that appeared during said month, so January would be Aquarius, February would be Pisces, and so forth.    

There are twelve months and they were split evenly amongst the four elements. The fire sign, an increase in yellow bile, and a choleric personality were deemed typical for people born under Sagittarius, Leo, or Aries.

If you are born a Scorpio, Cancer, or Pieces, you are ruled by water, will have an excess of phlegm, and exhibit a phlegmatic personality.

Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, who will experience an excess of black bile in their body with a melancholic personality.

Lastly, air signs are Aquarius, Libra, and Libra who have a higher ratio of blood than any other humor, and will have a sanguine personality.

After studying the discipline of Aristotelian Physics, Medicine, and Astrology alone, we have defined the four elements that made up their world in terms of weight, sense-ability, season, temperament, and star signs. It’s strange to think that the horoscopes on the back page of the daily Metro or the tiny rectangle squashed into the “entertainment” section of Cosmopolitan like an afterthought were the product of a strict and well respected science, taught to the elite at the very best universities in Europe had to offer. My professor justified this lesson on theories long disproved dreamed up by men long gone as respecting the theories of the past as science. For if we are to dismiss the scientific theories of the past as drivel, who is to say that the future will not look back at our beliefs as the pipe dreams of a mad man?

He could not help but add, my wonderful professor who confessed to us that he would have liked to majored in Astrology, that despite the fact that our scientific mosaic looks completely different today and we have amassed a wealth of scientific knowledge unconceivable to the scientists of Aristotelian-Medieval times, there is a certain balance and delicate interconnectedness to the Aristotelian-Medieval worldview that has never since been recreated. 

Part 1: Aristotelian Physics

Part 2: Humoral Medicine 

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Lisa Chen

U Toronto

Lisa Chen is currently a second year student majoring in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (it's a thing - I swear!) with a minor in English and a joint minor with Singapore National University in Asian Culture and Literature. When she is not editing articles for HerCampus and marveling at the amazing content her writers produce, Lisa is an executive on the Arts and Science Student's Union (ASSU) where she represents and advocates for the interests of over 24,000 students enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Lisa hopes to study law after graduation, preferably somewhere warm like California because Canadian winters are ridiculous and she loves high-waisted shorts. If you see her around campus, don't be afraid to come say hi! Especially if you love Adventure Time and Harry Potter as much as she does. 
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