“But the life in the Cosmos, the life which carries the leading principle of the universe, still needs elucidation; does it operate without calculation, without searching into what ought to be done?
“Yes: for what must be stands shaped before the Cosmos, and is ordered without any setting in order; the ordering things are merely the things that come to be; and the principle that brings them into being is Order itself. …
“The leading principle of the universe is a unity—and one that is sovereign without break, not sometimes dominant and sometimes dominated. … And this governing unity must always desire the one thing; [unity].” ~Plotinus
Cosmos and Universe
It is not clear when Plotinus speaks of the universe and the cosmos if he means them as two different things, or as two words that mean the same thing. A hint is found, however, in the fact that he writes Cosmos with a capital “C,” and universe with a lower-case “u”. This indicates to me that he thinks of them as different, and the Cosmos is the more important of the two. I will assume, therefore, that when he says “Cosmos,” he means the spiritual realms, and when he says “universe,” he means the dimensions of matter. Still, some of what he says about the Cosmos applies more to the universe, and vice-versa.
The first few lines of the quote may seem confusing to some. Essentially, Plotinus is asking if the Cosmos had to be put into order by some intelligent force or being after it was created. His own reply is “No,” because the order is built in. In other words, God didn’t create a random, chaotic Cosmos, then try to apply order to it. He created it as ordered creation. He created with Cosmic order. And all that he creates is created with that same Cosmic Order.
So God doesn’t have to spend much of his time keeping the spiritual Cosmos in order. It runs on its own build in order. Just as we don’t have to remember to breath or make our heart beat, God doesn’t have to remember to continuously guide the Cosmos as if driving a car. It’s like a self-driving car that never runs down, never breaks. Continue reading “Cosmic Order and the Universe”