Macrocosm and microcosm

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Robert Fludd's illustration of man as the microcosm within the universal macrocosm. Fludd states that "Man is a whole world of its own, called microcosm for it displays a miniature pattern of all the parts of the universe. Thus the head is related to the Empyreal, the chest to the ethereal heaven and the belly to the elementary substance."[1]
Macrocosm and Microcosm from Tobias Schutz 'Harmonia macrocosmi cum microcosmi' (1654)
By looking down, I see up. Part of a pair of illustrations in Tycho Brahe's Astronomiæ instauratæ Mechanica depicting his understanding of the connection between macrocosm and microcosm.[citation needed]
By looking up, I see down.

Macrocosm and microcosm refers to a vision of cosmos where the part (microcosm) reflects the whole (macrocosm) and vice versa. It is a feature "present in all esoteric schools of thinking", according to scholar Pierre A. Riffard.[2] It is closely associated with Hermeticism and underlies practices such as astrology, alchemy and sacred geometry with its premise of "As Above, So Below".[3]

Today, the concept of microcosm has been dominated by sociology to mean a small group of individuals whose behavior is typical of a larger social body encompassing it. A microcosm can be seen as a special kind of epitome. Conversely, a macrocosm is a social body made of smaller compounds. In physics, scale invariance describes the same phenomenon, although the universe as a whole is not physically scale invariant according to the modern understanding. However, scale invariance does appear in some physical systems, such as electrical breakdown.

This theory was initiated by Pythagoras who saw the cosmos and the body as a harmonious unity. He expressed this connection with his concept of microcosm and macrocosm.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert Fludd in Utriusque Cosmic Historia, II; quoted by Pierre A. Riffard in Dictionnaire de l’ésotérisme, Paris: Payot, 1983, 34.
  2. ^ Pierre A. Riffard, Dictionnaire de l’ésotérisme, Paris: Payot, 1983, 34.
  3. ^ Antoine Faivre, Access to Western esotericism, State University of New York Press, 1994, 10-11.
  4. ^ "Harmony in Healing". 2017-07-28: 15–16. doi:10.4324/9780203790281. 
  1. Republic, Plato, trans. By B. Jowett M.A., Vintage Books, NY. § 435, pg 151

Bibliography[edit]

  • Theories of Macrocosms and Microcosms in the History of Philosophy, G. P. Conger, NY, 1922, which includes a survey of critical discussions up to 1922.

External links[edit]