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The Arrogance of Space Flights

May 31, 2020

Yesterday’s NASA launch of two astronauts on a rocket designed to land at the International Space Station encouraged Liberal media to shower praise, for once, on America, its government and space industry. I have always looked askance at space flights and often wondered why we travelled to the Moon or what benefits were gained from that.

Walter A. McDougall’s history of the Space Age examines that aspiration and finds lurking in the background a will to control nature.  Control of nature underlies 20th and 21st century space exploration much as the Renaissance Hermeticists used “magic” to achieve that control.

In sum, there is a very strong arrogance that permeates culture in the West with roots deep into the Protestant Reformation, emigration of Puritans to America, and the influence of scientific discovery.

Most of us who have interesting toys do not store them in closets. Elon Musk is an example. Musk is planning to launch a mission to Mars by 2022.

His “space company” is designed to try to advance rocket technology to enable humanity to become a space-based civilization.

Musk thinks big and is concerned about the future of mankind.

Yet that future cannot be experienced except through concepts common in our time. Those concepts include issues of sustainable energy, global warming, population growth and technological progress.

Listening to Musk in a YouTube interview reveals a modern, scientific, man unhindered by theology, philosophy or a sense of human limits.

Unfortunately, Musk was preceded by thinkers similarly motivated to control nature. The Renaissance Hermeticists developed a view of magic as a means to predict the future and control nature. You can read about them in Frances Yates’ study of Giordano Bruno or in my long out-of-print The Development of Political Theory and in a chapter from that study published at

The history of Renaissance magic is part of a long tradition of attempts to free us from our humanity in the realization that we are gods. We are not, of course, and aspiring to transcend our mortality in flights to Mars is the height of arrogance.


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