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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 "ordered world" 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 many Slavic languages such as Russian and Bulgarian, the word Космос cosmos means also the "outer space". In Mandarin Chinese, cosmos is translated as 宇宙 yuzhou, which literally translated means space-time ( yu = space + zhou = time).



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.

Cosmicism is a philosophical position that mankind is an insignificant aspect of a universe at best indifferent and perhaps hostile. This philosophy, explored by writers such as H.P. Lovecraft (who some say is the original proponent of the philosophy) and later writers who actually represented the beliefs in books such as Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


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.

Olaf Stapledon, in his science fiction novel Star Maker (1937), describes how God (the Star Maker) evolves by creating ever more complex cosmoses across multicosmic hypertime.

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