A complex and orderly system, such as our universe; the opposite of chaos.

A complex, well-ordered, and unified system, usually referring to the world of human experience or to the universe as a whole. Verbs related to the Greek ‘µ’ mean to put in order and to adorn, hence our words ‘cosmetic’ and ‘cosmetologist’. In referring to the universe as cosmos rather than as chaos, the classical Greeks defined reality as a homogeneous, ordered whole. In contrast, modern Western culture has tended to view reality dualistically, splitting it into subject and object, humanity and nature, mind and matter. Contemporary thinkers who attempt to reclaim the universe as cosmos have been forced to abandon the fixed structure of classical cosmologies in light of the pervasively evolutionary character of the universe revealed by modern science. Nonetheless, such thinkers -- whether they are religious or secular -- share the desire of the ancient Greeks to provide a consistent and meaningful framework for the world of human experience, by relating it to the principles governing all of reality.

Glossary Index | Next >
To return to the previous topic, click on your browser's 'Back' button, or select from the topics list.