The cosmos (UK //, US //) is the universe regarded as a complex and orderly system; the opposite of chaos. The philosopher Pythagoras used the term cosmos (Ancient Greek: κόσμος) for the order of the universe, but the term was not part of modern language until the 19th century geographer and polymath, Alexander von Humboldt, resurrected the use of the word from the ancient Greek, assigned it to his multi-volume treatise, Kosmos, and, along the way, influenced our present and somewhat holistic perception of the universe as one interacting entity.
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.
Cosmology is a branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of the universe, a theory or doctrine describing the natural order of the universe. The basic definition of Cosmology is the science of the origin and development of the universe. In modern astronomy the Big Bang theory is the dominant postulation.
In physical cosmology, the term cosmos is often used in a technical way, referring to a particular spacetime continuum within the (postulated) multiverse. Our particular cosmos, the observable universe, is generally capitalized as the Cosmos.
According to Charles Peter Mason in Sir William Smith Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870, see book screenshot for full quote), Pythagoreans described the universe.
- It appears, in fact, from this, as well as from the extant fragments, that the first book (from Philolaus) of the work contained a general account of the origin and arrangement of the universe. The second book appears to have been an exposition of the nature of numbers, which in the Pythagorean theory are the essence and source of all things. (p. 305)
In theology, the cosmos is the created heavenly bodies (sun, moon, planets, and "fixed stars"), not including the Creator. In Christian theology, the word is also used synonymously with aion to refer to "worldly life" or "this world" or "this age" as opposed to the afterlife or World to Come.
The 1870 book Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology noted
- Thales dogma that water is the origin of things, that is, that it is that out of which every thing arises, and into which every thing resolves itself, Thales may have followed Orphic cosmogonies, while, unlike them, he sought to establish the truth of the assertion. Hence, Aristotle, immediately after he has called him the originator of philosophy brings forward the reasons which Thales was believed to have adduced in confirmation of that assertion; for that no written development of it, or indeed any book by Thales, was extant, is proved by the expressions which Aristotle uses when he brings forward the doctrines and proofs of the Milesian. (p. 1016)
- Plato, describes the idea of the good, or the Godhead, sometimes teleologically, as the ultimate purpose of all conditioned existence; sometimes cosmologically, as the ultimate operative cause; and has begun to develop the cosmological, as also the physico-theological proof for the being of God; but has referred both back to the idea of the Good, as the necessary presupposition to all other ideas, and our cognition of them. (p. 402)
The book The works of Aristotle (1908, p.80 Fragments) mentioned
- Aristotle says the poet Orpheus never existed; the Pythagoreans ascribe this Orphic poem to a certain Cercon (see Cercops).
- The Orphics were an ascetic sect; wine, to them, was only a symbol, as, later, in the Christian sacrament. The intoxication that they sought was that of "enthusiasm," of union with the god. They believed themselves, in this way, to acquire mystic knowledge not obtainable by ordinary means. This mystical element entered into Greek philosophy with Pythagoras, who was a reformer of Orphism as Orpheus was a reformer of the religion of Dionysus. From Pythagoras Orphic elements entered into the philosophy of Plato, and from Plato into most later philosophy that was in any degree religious.
- Definition in Merriam-Webster dictionary
- von Humboldt, Alexander (1860). Cosmos: a sketch of a physical description of the universe 1. E. O. Otté (trans.). New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 69.
- Walls, L. D. (2009). "Introducing Humboldt’s Cosmos". Minding Nature. August: 3–15.
- cosmology - Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- Sir William Smith (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. p. 305.
- "Concerning Aion and Aionios". Saviour of All Fellowship. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- Aristotle; Ross, W. D. (William David), 1877; Smith, J. A. (John Alexander), 1863-1939 (1908). The works of Aristotle. p. 80.
- Bertrand Russel (1947). History of Western Philosophy.
- Cosmos – an Illustrated Dimensional Journey from microcosmos to macrocosmos – from Digital Nature Agency
- JPL Spitzer telescope photos of macrocosmos
- Macrocosm and Microcosm, in Dictionary of the History of Ideas
- Encyclopedia of Cosmos This is in Japanese.
- Cosmos – Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cosmos and Cosmic Law (Russian)
- Greene, B. (1999). The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. W.W. Norton, New York
- Hawking, S. W. (2001). The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam Book.
- Yulsman, T. (2003). Origins: The Quest for our Cosmic Roots. Institute of Physics Publishing, London.