I am taking a course on pre-Socratic philosophers and the professor uses the terms 'Cosmogony' and 'Cosmology' interchangeably without any distinguishable discrimination. This becomes confusing as I am unable to relate the one or the other to any specific context. Could anyone help me understand what the main differences between the two are?

1 Answer 1


The Oxford English Dictionary has Cosmogony as the science or the theory of the creation of the Universe, whereas Cosmology is the science or the theory of the Universe as an ordered whole and the rules that govern it. So, following that definition, cosmogony is a subset of cosmology.

In Ancient Greek cosmogony is κοσμογονία = world (κοσμο) + begetting (γονία) whereas cosmology is κοσμολογία = world (κοσμο) + discourse (λογία).

It's a standard dictionary term and there's very little ambiguity in the senses of the words. My understanding is that this question may be down-voted because it doesn't show sufficient research. But if your professor's use of the terms interchangeably suggested to you that there was some obscure definition of the word, or historic confusion between the uses of the word that you couldn't find in the standard dictionaries, then the answer is no, there isn't.

  • The suspicion is that the professor may be intending her or his use of the words in different contexts, but that she or he isn't making that context clear to the audience. Tread carefully when raising this (if you are so bold) with your professor!
    – John Mack
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 2:34

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