Definitions for vitalismˈvaɪt lˌɪz əm

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word vitalism

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

vi•tal•ismˈvaɪt lˌɪz əm(n.)

  1. the doctrine that phenomena are only partly controlled by mechanical forces, and are in some measure self-determining.

    Category: Philosphy

    Ref: Compare dynamism (def. 1 ), 1 mechanism (def. 6). 8

  2. Biol. a doctrine that attributes the viability of a living organism to a vital principle distinct from the physical and chemical processes of life.

    Category: Biology

Origin of vitalism:



Princeton's WordNet

  1. vitalism(noun)

    (philosophy) a doctrine that life is a vital principle distinct from physics and chemistry


  1. vitalism(Noun)

    the doctrine that life involves some immaterial "vital force", and cannot be explained scientifically

Webster Dictionary

  1. Vitalism(noun)

    the doctrine that all the functions of a living organism are due to an unknown vital principle distinct from all chemical and physical forces


  1. Vitalism

    Vitalism is the doctrine, often advocated in the past but now rejected by mainstream science, that "living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things". Where vitalism explicitly invokes a vital principle, that element is often referred to as the "vital spark", "energy" or "élan vital", which some equate with the soul. Vitalism has a long history in medical philosophies: most traditional healing practices posited that disease results from some imbalance in vital forces. In the Western tradition founded by Hippocrates, these vital forces were associated with the four temperaments and humours; Eastern traditions posited an imbalance or blocking of qi.

U.S. National Library of Medicine

  1. Vitalism

    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.


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