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In all of Greek thought, the idea of universe is closely associated with that of order: this is clear from the term kosmos itself, which has both meanings in Greek. Two main motifs characterize the Greek conception of the cosmos: the tendency to consider it a living being, beautiful, animate, intelligent, blessed and divine, in which harmony and concord reign supreme; and the idea of its contemplation, first origin of philosophy, of human ethics and of the conviction of the existence of a supreme ordering principle, immanent or transcendent. Both ideas were taken into patristics. For Plato, the universe is the best, most beautiful and most perfect of things that have come into being Tim. 29a, 92c; cf. Philebus 30a, 30b, a living being with soul and intelligence, born through the providence of the demiurge Tim. 30b; cf. Politicus 269 c-d; Philebus 30a, a happy and sensible god Tim. 34b, 92c governed by its own soul Tim. 34c; Laws X,896 d-e. Contemplation of the order of the heavens is the origin of the greatest gift given to human beings, namely, philosophy Tim. 47 a-b; through contemplation the ordered revolutions of the heavens become the model of the order that must reign in the human mind Tim. 47 b-c; contemplation always produces in human beings the belief in a higher, ordering intellect Philebus 28e; Laws XII, 966 d-e; the study of astronomy prepares us to understand transcendent realities Rep. VII, 529b. In the young Aristotle, still under Plato’s influence, we see both the idea of the divinity of the cosmos Per philosophias, Rose fr. 26 = Walzer fr. 26 and that of contemplation of the heavens as origin of belief in the gods and in a higher cause op. cit., Rose fr. 10, 11 and 12 = Walzer fr. 12 and 13. For the mature Aristotle, the universe is divine De caelo I,270 b 10-11, animate De caelo II,285 a 29, eternal and unalterable De caelo I,270 a 12-14; 270 a 25-27; 270 b 1-2.

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