On the Controversy of House Systems
© 2015, Dec 8 Curtis Manwaring
There's something very important that always seems to get left out of any debate about house systems and I'm surprised that with so many scholastically inclined individuals participating that it hasn't been pointed out yet. Something that anyone studying the accuracy of house systems needs to investigate is the semantic fields of words. This is something that Robert Schmidt has said he's dealt with in translations of astrological texts, but the same goes for mapping a keyword to a house, sign, etc... Our words in English don't have a 1:1 correspondence of meanings to words in other languages. So unless you believe as some Hellenist's believed that "the planets taught us to speak", then it's not a reasonable assumption to assume that a given keyword maps to only 28.73419 degrees of one house. There is often significant overlap and it's possible for some keywords to map to several houses. "Children" for instance was given not just to the 5th, but also to the 4th, 10th and 11th.
For this reason whenever an astrologer says "something works for me", I'm singularly unimpressed. Those of us practicing should be aware of observation bias (because you are part of the experiment). You've experienced this bias when you observe that you've had a string of Cancer/Capricorn risings consulting you in the last month and haven't seen any predominant fire sign individuals during the same time frame (insert your own particular observation here). This is because you attract clients based upon issues in your own chart. You know this, so why do you assume that this goes for everybody? What you think is a "best system" based upon "empirical evidence" is really a cross contamination of subjective experience with objective phenomena. This can't be accepted in any serious scientific experiment as confirmation of anything pertaining to the objective.
The "house system" controversy has been around for centuries and no one has solved it using the usual arguments, but instead, house systems (including the sidereal issue, asteroids, lots, etc) have turned into a "tower of Babel". I think it unlikely that pursuing empirical evidence or statistical studies will solve the issue of what house system works best. IMO, the biggest hole that has to be fixed in our logic is in understanding the theoretical foundation(s). So if you really want to solve this issue, my suggestion is forget about empiricism and start studying philosophy.