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The word chaos [ ˈkaːɔs ] (from ancient Greek χάος cháos ) in everyday language mostly denotes a state of complete disorder or confusion (jumble), in ancient mythology and philosophy it functions as an antithesis to cosmos , the Greek term , in the context of cosmogonies and cosmologies for the (world) order or the ordered universe , in modern scientific theories ( chaos research ) on the other hand to denote the unpredictability of processes.

Concept history

Etymologically, the word is related to the Greek verb χαίνω chainō ("gape, yawn"), so it originally means "gaping space", "yawning void", " gap ". The word χαίνω , like German yawning, is traced back to a presumed root word of the Indo-European original language * ghen- . Chaos is connected with the older word chabos and Chabos ("yawning gorge") means a deep gorge south of the castle of Mycenae in the Peloponnese , comparable to the original gorge Ginnungagap ("yawning gorge") of Nordic mythology .

In the theogony of the Greek poet Hesiod (approx. 700 BC), chaos is the original state of the world : "Verily, chaos arose first and then the earth  ..." (verse 116). In this cosmogonic myth, chaos is similar to nothingness and emptiness. Children or descendants of chaos with Hesiod are Gaia (the goddess of the earth), Nyx (the goddess of darkness, of the night), Erebos (the god of darkness in the underworld), Tartaros (the underworld, place and person at the same time) and Eros (the god of love). All five gods emerged from the chaos at the same time.

In the first creation story of the Bible ( Genesis 1 : 1–5) the words “desolate and empty” can also be interpreted as another expression for chaos . In the Hebrew Bible it says here תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ tohu ṿavohu , which later found its way into the German language as Tohuwabohu . Thisתֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ tohu ṿavohu consists of theוָ ṿa (meaning: and)תֹהוּ tohu ,בֹהוּ vohu these correspond in the Babylonian-Sumerian mythology to the original dragon beings Tiamat and Abzu (deity) , who are defeated by the god Marduk .

The term chaos in Paracelsus is somewhat similar to the later conception of gas in Johan Baptista van Helmont , but remains somewhat occult in its meaning.

Since the 17th century called Chaos in everyday language , the disorder, the confusion, the mess (about a messy room).


The term chaot is usually used disparagingly and polemically . In everyday life it is usually used to describe a very messy and poorly organized person. Furthermore, the word "chaot" (but also "rioters") is used as a political battle term to denote members of violent social groups, especially in connection with street battles and riots . In many mass media, the term is used, among other things, for hooligans .

Above all, anarchists , autonomists and punks are pejoratively referred to as "chaots" in political disputes. The term is also used for right-wing radical skinheads . The punk scene itself refers to the term positively and has organized so-called “ chaos days ” several times since the 1980s .

Other meanings

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Chaos  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Chaos  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Lobenhofer, Stefan (2019): Chaos [German version]. In: Kirchhoff, Thomas (ed.): Online Encyclopedia Philosophy of Nature / Online-Lexikon Naturphilosophie , doi: 10.11588 / oepn.2019.0.68092;
  2. ^ Kai Brodersen : Ancient sites on the Mediterranean: Metzler Lexikon. JB Metzler, Stuttgart 2016, p. 321
  3. Ulrich Mann: Cosmics and Tragedy - Fundamentals of the ancient Greek religious and intellectual history. In: The Caravan. Quarterly issues of the Society for Country and Ethnology. Booklet 1/2 ( In the sign of St. Mark's Lion. The Peloponnese 1204–1715 ) 23rd year, Karawane-Verlag, Ludwigsburg 1982, pp. 5–26, here p. 18
  4. Willem Frans Daems: The term chaos in Paracelsus. In: Josef Domes u. a. (Ed.): Light of nature. Medicine in specialist literature and poetry. Göppingen 1994, pp. 65-76.
  5. ^ Riots in Leipzig: 60 games canceled . In: Stern , February 13, 2007