A microcosm is a component of a larger complex process which displays all the phenomena of the larger whole.


‘Microcosm’ dates from the 15th century when it captured the idea that a single individual person, represented an entire universe. Nowadays it is generally used in the relative sense: “x is a microcosm of X.”


Microcosm differs from unit of analysis or germ cell, because the microcosm must display not just the ‘essential’ features of the whole in embryonic form, but actually all the features. So, for example, the microcosm of capital would be one modern corporation, not a single commodity exchange. However, when Vygotsky says, in the final words of Thinking and Speech: “The meaningful word is a microcosm of human consciousness” it is unlikely that he intended anything other than to reiterate that word meaning is the unit of analysis of verbal thinking.

-- AndyBlunden - 11 Oct 2014


Topic revision: r1 - 11 Oct 2014, AndyBlunden

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