On the ultimate meaning behind "chaos" and "KOS-MOS"


New member
Jul 29, 2023
Lately, I've been writing up stuff regarding the Xenosaga series and, during my review of past material, I've been going in circles around a certain issue, and that's the meaning behind "chaos" and "KOS-MOS". As in, why the characters were named this way. The element that sparked this question had to do with something included in a certain fan book that came alongside the Xenosaga Special DVD:

As the Xenosaga series proceeds, there are two key characters. Their names are "KOS-MOS (order)" and "chaos (chaos)".
Their roles are still shrouded in mystery, but their respective symbolic existences might be [a key] part of the fabric of this great epic.

Once I started researching whatever they might mean in context, I turned to the Xenosaga Episode I Official Design Materials, given that's the only sourcebook in the series that tends to dwell on its concepts far more than just giving straight up explanations. chaos' character page had something to say regarding the meaning behind his name. We basically get the sense that, at least at this point, chaos' name is a result of the fact that he's power is capable of causing direct interference with the Imaginary Number Domain in order to erase Gnosis without first pinning them down into the Real Number Domain. As Virgil said, the rules they abide by are too different. chaos abides by those of that other side, which allows him to destroy Gnosis. It's contrary to "order", if we understand "order" as the laws of physics as understood by Xenosaga's humanity, and therefore, chaos here means something that's contrary to the known order, and shrouded in darkness.

In turn, as for KOS-MOS, from both her entry and the Hilbert Effect's, we can gather that the KOS-MOS' designation, at least that's the official narrative from Vector's First Division, is that it signifies that KOS-MOS is a system that obeys the rules of order, dealing with all phenomena in a logical and efficient way. And not only that, it can, via the Hilbert Effect, impose the "order" its desginers are familiar with upon the Gnosis (existences who abide by what's understood as chaos), pushing their logic and order unto them and forcing them to play by the rules of the Real Number Domain.

Yet I found a pre-release (for Episode I) interview with Takahashi, in which he had something interesting to say:

Q: A character named Chaos was also revealed, so it's simple to see the contrast you have between cosmos [order] and chaos in the two characters. Will that become prevalent in the story?

T: Well, the "will for power" is borrowed from Nietzsche, so these two characters, each carrying a philosophical meaning, have a lot to do with the main theme. However, that's merely the way I think about the story. It was deliberately devised not to be highly involved, so anyone should be able to get into it easily.

So essentially, even without getting into scenario rewrites, the philosophical meaning behind both names and how exactly they relate to the story was designed not to be too on the nose. However, Takahashi has stated that the meaning behind "Order" and "Chaos", as complementary existences, has to do with the "Will to Power" and how it's presented in Xenosaga (regarding the Will to Power, I wrote a pretty long article a few days ago, and checking it out might be worth it for those interested: https://overthinkingmedia468479265....something-alien-anothers-will-anothers-world/).

This just convinced me that the character names had a deeper meaning than the one given in the ODM. After all, none of that's really related to the Will to Power, and they are pretty superficial, at least in my opinion. The meaning doesn't seem important enough.

All of that only allowed me to think that it has to relate to Anima and Animus, and how they are connected. Namely, the effect each individual power has on human consciousness, on their Will to Power. I'll use excerpts from the Complete and Perfect Guides here:
The power of Anima is what carries the function of the Failsafe.Due to the rejecting consciousnesses in the imaginary domain, the Collective Unconscious disperses, and thelower domain collapses, which then spreads to the upper domain. The power of Anima is the power that "safely"eliminates only the lower domain -- the Dimensional Universe -- in order to avoid the worst-case situation where theentire universe would end up being allowed to collapse. In a manner of speaking, it is the function that completely deletes the Dimensional Universe.

Why Anima's human incarnation would bear the name "chaos" was easy enough to understand IMO. Basically, the power of Anima is one that expunges the Collective Unconscious and forces its dispersal so as to protect the "wider system" from falling apart. It does so in reaction to rather strong Wills to Power that seek to maintain their own personal borders and not to melt together in the Collective Unconscious. Furthermore, Anima reacts in a rather violent way to exposure to people with exceptionally strong wills, who are able to access Anima and become Testaments if they happen to accept a future offer by Wilhelm. It is contact with these wills that also makes the Vessels of Anima progressively awaken.

Coupled with that, the activation of the Failsafe is basically alienated from Yeshua's own will: it will activate whether he wishes it or not. Truly a "chaotic" power that manifests in response to Willls vying for independence and dispersal, in other words, "chaos". There's also the fact that the Vessels themselves quite literally transformed into all sorts of weapon, reacting to the wills of those who could use them, but always in the form of weapons with great capacity for destruction.

Mary's relation to "order" cames from the same rationale. Animus is the power to control Anima, the ability to instill "order" unto "chaos". Mary did so when she divided Anima into 12 Vessels. This is straight up enough but, in relation to the Will to Power, I think there's a good case to be made that Animus' role, through its control of Anima once the Vessels have awakened and entered oppose phase (from dispersal, to convergence, thanks to the Testaments being opposed phase wills that can interface with Anima), is to use Anima to concentrate these strong Wills to Power that refuse to just join together and lose their individuality in the Collective Unconscious. That is, just as it happens in the ending of Episode III, Animus, using Anima as in intermediary, is a power that can collect and suppress Wills to Power that naturally lean onto "chaos", forcing "order" upon them by forcing them to join together, although not infallibly so. Be it into Zarathustra or into Nephilim's own womb:
The flesh of Maria which was T-elos, and the consciousness of Maria that had awakened in KOS-MOS-- by the merging of these two, Maria's awakening was achieved. That means the revival of the power of Animus. The powerof Animus is what gathered the dissipating consciousnesses and led them to Zarathustra.After Maria's revival, a code resembling Lemegeton raced through the UMN. That very thing was the manifestation of the power of Animus. Due to this, the Gnosis phenomenon broke out over the whole galaxy, andthey were led to Zarathustra.
Having revived within the KOS-MOS vessel, Maria's consciousness separated the power of Animus from herself,and she entrusted only that power of Animus to Nephilim.For that reason, although she lost the power of Animus, Maria's consciousness remained in KOS-MOS.For the domain shift, the wandering consciousnesses were gathered into the cradle within Nephilim. Thefocusing of the consciousnesses was the manifestation of the power of Animus. However, the Gnosis feared eventhat kind of focusing, and tried to reject it. It was difficult to guide all of the consciousnesses.KOS-MOS, or rather, Maria volunteered herself to protect Abel, Nephilim, and chaos from the rejecting,ambushing Gnosis. It was also in order to protect Shion's future. And, also again, it was for Maria to atone for notbeing able to protect the Maiden in the extremely ancient era of Lost Jerusalem.

Hell, you could also say that, by killing Gnosis, KOS-MOS was already impossing "order" on rebellious Wills who just refuse to die.

These are my two cents, what are all your thoughts? Hopefully I've made sense of this, but I want to hear all the opinions possible.
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Sorry this got caught by the spam filter. I love this kind of long form content, thanks for posting! I am going to read this in a bit and I am really looking forward to it.
No matter, it's actually something I'm still trying to get my head around. It's also turning around comments done by developers (Takahashi, specially) back when the series was going to have much greater scope than it ended up having. I have the hunch that we missed out on more obvious depictions of the philosophical meaning of these names by losing the remainder of the story. But we still gotta work with what we have, and this is the best I have managed to cook up.

Anyway, I hit the word limit, and I had to cut down on the quotes from the ODM and the guides, so I'll take the chance and put them in this other post.

On chaos, from the ODM:

All his ability and his existence are concealed in the chaos
A Gnosis is a non-physical existence. Therefore, humanity, who holds nothing
but physical intervening power, finds it necessary to affix Gnosis into the
physical by using the Hilbert Effect. By placing the target on the same stand-
point as the self, it constructs a condition that allows mutual influence. A
person who crawls along the ground is not able to touch a person who flies in
the sky. There is nothing but a one-sided interference by the fliers.
Therefore, it is necessary for the fliers to be dragged down to the surface of
the ground. This is the anti-Gnosis means devised by man. However, chaos's
power is close in relationship to fellow fliers. For him, it is not necessary
to affix the physical by means of the Hilbert Effect. It is a power to erase an
existence of unknown true shape, whatever that unknown true shape may be. Also,
the true shape of that power itself is unknown. The anti-Gnosis ability chaos
holds is not in a state that can be completely understood logically, both in
theory and law.

In comparison with KOS-MOS's orderly anti-Gnosis measure, chaos's is something
done with disorder in which everything is concealed in enigma.

On KOS-MOS, from the ODM:

It is the system that was built to aim for the possible existence that can deal
with all phenomena, and gives priority to the three principles of logic,
efficiency, and duty. Logic and efficiency are things that support the basis of
order. As is natural, conflict is also contained within all phenomena. Because
of this, it was given the name "Kosmos Obey Strategic Multiple Operation
System". And the nickname that was taken from these initials is "KOS-MOS".

KOS-MOS is a word that corresponds to the entire system that interacts
logically with phenomena and controls various situations in order to execute a
duty, and in its original meaning, it is not something that corresponds to the
single android with the form of a young woman.

However, people are existences that tend to apply their own ideas on a subject
that is right before their eyes. For instance, it is easy to comprehend the
rising of things like computers and UMN agent-systems. Suppose an error
occurred in a computer that is being operated. At that moment, suppose an agent
character is displayed, explains the circumstances, and exhibits restorative
effort; then that user is not moved to emotion against the programmer that
created the program that caused the error; instead it is that they are moved to
emotion towards the agent character.

On the Hilbert Effect's relevance to this:

Humans have made great efforts to perceive the world as an orderly thing. We
have endeavored to perceive the form of the world by always thinking about the
causal relationships of everything and understanding the logical conclusion
from its cause to its consequence. That is the attitude that accepts the world
as being orderly, and humans, who have repeatedly taken this stance throughout
history, can find relief at being able to put themselves in the midst of order.

Of course, depending on the individual and the time period, chaotic situations
have also been sought out. However, that chaos was simply an anti-order. Not
accepting that the basis of the world was chaos, it was an aspiration for a
partial or at least temporary chaos in addition to having a persistent
foundation of order. However, confronted with the existence of the Zohar and
the Gnosis, people were exposed to a fear brought about by an existence rooted
in chaos.

The "Hilbert" from the Hilbert Effect is the name of an ancient mathematician.
He is the person who proposed the "Hilbert Project," a project that sought
circumstances in which every maxim could exist without contradiction within a
system of all maxims. Math is a field of study that transforms the order of the
world into language using symbols called numbers, it is a philosophy and it is
a way of life. The Hilbert Effect, which has taken the name of Hilbert for
itself, is surely the effect of bestowing order upon chaotic existences. It is
obvious from the fact that KOS-MOS' name is "obey order strategic multipurpose
system (Kosmos Obey Strategical Multiple Operation System)" that all functions
were constructed based on order without contradiction. With that goal in mind
development was started, and even with the occurrence of an unfortunate
accident, order has been preserved and the project is continuing. At least on
the surface.
The effect of the Hilbert Effect is to fixate the Gnosis into the orderly state
of a physical entity.

The science produced by human beings is a logical technique for the purpose of
logically recognizing and understanding the world that is the environment that
surrounds them. It is an experiment to try to control and influence the world
with that logic. The Gnosis are feared because that kind of power does not
extend to them. Physically fixating the Gnosis with the Hilbert Effect puts
the Gnosis in an arena where the logical clout that humans possess can be used.
Being able to relax because of this is also a manifestation of the confidence
that if we raise them into this arena, we will be able to win the battle.

From the Perfect Guide, on Anima's transformation due to Animus' intervention, alongside that of the Vessels' awakening:

After the refusal of Eternal Recurrence, the power of Anima transformed due to intervention from the revived
Animus. Instead of being power to eliminate the Dimensional Universe, it became power to collect the dispersing
consciousnesses and make a dimensional shift. Also, the use of such power was able to be performed because
control by the power of Animus had accompanied it.

About the Vessels of Anima changing form through the ages, but always remaining weapons of great destructive power:

The Vessels of Anima change form according to era and according to the situation in which they are used. They
are not existences that always have a fixed shape.
Once the power of Anima was divided, how is their divided power recognized and used? Depending on such a
situation, the form changed, and over time, for thousands of years, little by little, they continued to awaken.
At times, the Vessels of Anima themselves were ES-like robots. Also at times, the Vessels of Anima themselves
were weapons. In other words, they assumed their shape depending on how they were used by the people who
possessed the factor that could use the Vessels of Anima, namely, those who possessed the factor of Testament.
However, whatever the era, and whatever the situation, they were tools of war.
It is as if destruction is the manifestation of their power.