Cosmicism is the literary philosophy developed and used by the American writer H. P. Lovecraft in his weird fiction.[1] Lovecraft was a writer of philosophically intense horror stories that involve occult phenomena like astral possession and alien miscegenation, and the themes of his fiction over time contributed to the development of this philosophy.


The philosophy of cosmicism states that there is no recognizable divine presence, such as a god, in the universe, and that humans are particularly insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence, and perhaps are just a small species projecting their own mental idolatries onto the vast cosmos.[citation needed] This also suggests that the majority of undiscerning humanity are creatures with the relative significance of insects and plants, when compared to the universe.[citation needed]

The most prominent theme in cosmicism is the insignificance of humanity. Cosmicism shares many characteristics with nihilism,[citation needed] though one important difference is that cosmicism tends to emphasize the insignificance of humanity and its doings, rather than summarily rejecting the possible existence of some higher purpose (or purposes).[citation needed] For example, in Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories, it is not the absence of meaning that causes terror for the protagonists, as it is their discovery that they have absolutely no power to change anything in the vast, indifferent universe that surrounds them.[citation needed] In Lovecraft's stories, whatever meaning or purpose may be invested in the actions of the cosmic beings is completely inaccessible to the human characters.[citation needed]

Lovecraft's cosmicism was a result of his complete disdain for all things religious[citation needed], his feeling of humanity's existential helplessness in the face of what he called the "infinite spaces" opened up by scientific thought, and his belief that humanity was fundamentally at the mercy of the vastness and emptiness of the cosmos.[2] In his fictional works, these ideas are often explored humorously ("Herbert West–Reanimator," 1922), through fantastic dream-like narratives ("The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath," 1927), or through his well-known Cthulhu Mythos ("The Call of Cthulhu," 1928, and others). Common themes related to cosmicism in Lovecraft's fiction are the insignificance of humanity in the universe[3] and the search for knowledge ending in disaster.[4]

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