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In its most general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from a Greek term κόσμος meaning "order, orderly arrangement, ornaments," and is the antithetical concept of chaos. Today the word is generally used as a synonym of the word "Universe" (considered in its orderly aspect). The words cosmetics and cosmetology originate from the same root. In Russian, the word cosmos simply means space.


[a. Gr. order, ornament, world or universe (so called by Pythagoras or his disciples ‘from its perfect order and arrangement’).]

Early Usage

1650 BULWER Anthropomet. xv. 149 As the greater World is called Cosmus from the beauty thereof. 1848 tr. Humboldt's Cosmos (Bohn) I. 53 In this work I use the word Cosmos..[as] the assemblage of all things in heaven and earth, the universality of created things, constituting the perceptible world. 1865 GROTE Plato I. i. 12 The Pythagoreans conceived the Kosmos, or the universe, as one single system, generated out of numbers. 1869 PHILLIPS Vesuv. xii. 324 A complete history of volcanos should.. be in harmony with the general history of the cosmos. 1874 BLACKIE Self Cult. 11 Were it not for the indwelling reason the world would be a chaos and not a cosmos.



Pythagoras is said to have been the first philosopher to apply the term cosmos to the Universe, perhaps from application to the starry firmament.

Russian cosmism is a cosmocentric philosophical and cultural movement that emerged in[Russia in the early 20th century.


In theology, the term can be used to denote the created Universe, not including the creator. The Septuagint uses both kosmos and oikumene for the inhabited world. In Christian theology, the word was also used synonymously with aion to refer to "worldly life" or "this world" as opposed to the afterlife.

The cosmos as originated by Pythagoras is parallel to the Zoroastrian term aša, the concept of a divine order, or divinely ordered creation.

Another definition of the word can be "infinitely or ever expanding" and can be used in reference to that which is spiritual such as a god or spiritual force or to physical matter such as outer space.

One philosophy that in which the cosmos or cosmic is used pertaining to BOTH theological and scientifical ideas is that of cosmicism. This philosophy, explored by writers such as HP Lovecraft(whom some say is the original proponent of the philosophy) and later writers whom actually represented the beliefs in books such as Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


Cosmology is the study of the cosmos in several of the above meanings, depending on context. All cosmologies have in common an attempt to understand the implicit order within the whole of being. In this way, most religions and philosophical systems have a cosmology.

In physical cosmology, the term cosmos is often used in a technical way, referring to a particular space-time continuum within the (postulated) multiverse. Our particular cosmos is generally capitalized as the Cosmos.

New Age philosophy

The philosopher Ken Wilber uses the term kosmos to refer to all of manifest existence, including various realms of consciousness. The term kosmos so used distinguishes a nondual Universe (which, in his view, includes both noetic and physical aspects) from the strictly physical Universe that is the concern of the traditional sciences.

See also

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