This is Essay V of Mr. Stolyarov’s series, “A Rational Cosmology,” which seeks to present objective, absolute, rationally grounded views of terms such as universe, matter, volume, space, time, motion, sound, light, forces, fields, and even the higher-order concepts of life, consciousness, and volition. See the index of all the essays in “A Rational Cosmology” here.
From its ancient Greek roots, the word “cosmology” means, “study of the universe.” This is an extremely broad and fundamental designation, as cosmology is, indeed, extremely broad and fundamental, too broad and fundamental, for that matter, to be categorized as a mere branch of physics. Yet what is meant by this term, “cosmos,” or “universe”? What is it exactly that cosmology studies?
“Universe” means “everything that exists.”
The word “universe” derives from the Latin universum, meaning “the whole world,” that is, “everything.” The term “universe” does not denote an entity, however. It is the sum of all entities that exist. It is not a “whole” in the sense that a person, a planet, or a star is a “whole.”
As a matter of fact, it would be absurd to state that Chicago, Quasimodo, a telescope, and a hippopotamus compose some inextricably whole entity. It follows that it would be even more absurd to state that Chicago, Quasimodo, a telescope, a hippopotamus, and everything else compose some inextricably whole entity. Nevertheless, it seems that, the more absurd a notion is, the greater credibility it has in the eyes of certain contemporary empiricist-positivist cosmologists, who constantly refer to the universe as if it were some totality acting in unison.
Nor is the universe a quality. I cannot have “universe” in the same manner as I have color, or shape, or mass. Nevertheless, the term “universe” pertains to me as it pertains to everything else that exists. It encompasses me and everything else that exists.
Nor is the universe a relationship. A relationship is an interaction between or among several entities that affects, in some manner, the qualities of these entities. Yet the term “universe” implies no actions by any entity. It merely denotes the totality of all the entities that exist, whatever their specific natures. These specific natures could necessitate that given entities act and relate in a certain way, but the universe is not in itself an action or relation. It is just a reference to the entirety of those entities which act and relate in some way.
What, then, is the purpose of the term “universe”? If it denotes neither entity, nor quality, nor relationship, why does the term even exist? “Universe” is a collective designation, and is used for one purpose and one purpose only: word economy. The word “universe” is interchangeable with “existence” or “everything that exists.”
When one wishes to refer to axioms, principles, and postulates that pertain to everything that exists, it would be terribly inconvenient to start listing each entity that can possibly exist. “Chicago, Quasimodo, a telescope, a hippopotamus, etc… all confirm the axiom of identity.”
Thus, the term “universe” is just convenient shorthand for a comprehensive list of all these entities. Given that there are colossally vast quantities of such entities, no man could even begin to create a comprehensive compendium of them within his whole lifetime.
Hence, the convenient shorthand of the term “universe” is necessary in order for a man to even begin to convey what precisely he is talking about. Moreover, the term offers added conveniences, such as being transformable into an adjective, “universal,” which means “pertaining to everything that exists.” (As in “universal laws,” for example.)
Several immense implications can be drawn from this analysis, which we shall explore as A Rational Cosmology unfolds.
Read other parts of “A Rational Cosmology” by clicking here.