Definitions for vitalismˈvaɪt lˌɪz əm
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
vi•tal•ismˈvaɪt lˌɪz əm(n.)
the doctrine that phenomena are only partly controlled by mechanical forces, and are in some measure self-determining.
Ref: Compare dynamism (def. 1 ), 1 mechanism (def. 6). 8
Biol. a doctrine that attributes the viability of a living organism to a vital principle distinct from the physical and chemical processes of life.
Origin of vitalism:
(philosophy) a doctrine that life is a vital principle distinct from physics and chemistry
the doctrine that life involves some immaterial "vital force", and cannot be explained scientifically
the doctrine that all the functions of a living organism are due to an unknown vital principle distinct from all chemical and physical forces
U.S. National Library of Medicine
The metaphysical doctrine that the functions and processes of life are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces and that the laws of physics and chemistry alone cannot explain life functions and processes. Vitalism is opposed to mechanistic materialism. The belief was that matter was divided into two classes based on behavior with respect to heat: organic and inorganic. Inorganic material could be melted but could always be recovered by removing the heat source. Organic compounds changed form upon heating and could not be recovered by removing the heat source. The proposed explanation for the difference between organic and inorganic compounds was the Vitalism Theory, which stated that inorganic materials did not contain the "vital force" of life.