hylozoism

hylozoic, adj.hylozoist, n.hylozoistic, adj.hylozoistically, adv.
/huy'leuh zoh"iz euhm/, n. Philos.
the doctrine that matter is inseparable from life, which is a property of matter.
[1670-80; HYLO- + zo- (s. of Gk zoé) life + -ISM]

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View that all matter is alive, either in itself or by participation in the operation of a world soul or some similar principle.

Hylozoism is logically distinct both from early forms of animism, which personify nature, and from panpsychism, which attributes some form of consciousness or sensation to all matter. The word was coined in the 17th century by Ralph Cudworth, who with Henry More (1614–1687) spoke of "plastic nature," an unconscious, incorporeal substance that controls and organizes matter and thus produces natural events as a divine instrument of change.

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      (from Greek hylē, “matter”; zōē, “life”), in philosophy, any system that views all matter as alive, either in itself or by participation in the operation of a world soul or some similar principle. Hylozoism is logically distinct both from early forms of animism, which personify nature, and from panpsychism, which attributes some form of consciousness or sensation to all matter.

      Throughout the history of thought hylozoistic interpretations of nature have been common. Early Greek thinkers sought the beginning of all things in various material substances. Thus, Thales (Thales of Miletus) considered water as the primary substance and saw all things as “full of gods”; for Anaximenes (Anaximenes Of Miletus), air was the universal animating principle of the world, and for Heracleitus it was fire. All of these elements were regarded as in some sense living, or even divine, and taking an active part in the development of being. When the Peripatetic Straton reduced all of reality to matter and all psychic activity to motion, he likewise vitalized matter.

      Modified forms of early hylozoism reappeared in medieval and Renaissance thought, though it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a hylozoist from a panpsychist. The word hylozoism was coined in the 17th century by Ralph Cudworth (Cudworth, Ralph), a Cambridge Platonist, who with Henry More (also a Cambridge Platonist) spoke of “plastic nature,” an unconscious, incorporeal substance that controls and organizes matter (somewhat like a plant soul in vegetation) and thus produces natural events as a divine instrument of change.

      Denis Diderot, Pierre-Jean-Georges Cabanis, and J.B. Robinet, 18th-century Encyclopaedists, espoused a dynamic, materialistic view of nature (not unlike that of Straton), which was later adapted by 19th-century evolutionist philosophers. Ernst Haeckel, for example, maintained that all matter must contain life if life derives from matter—a position soon challenged by emergent evolutionism (see also emergence).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hylozoism — is the philosophical conjecture that all or some material things possess life, or that all life is inseparable from matter. The English term was introduced by Ralph Cudworth in 1678. Distinction from similar theories Although there is a… …   Wikipedia

  • Hylozoism — • The doctrine according to which all matter possesses life Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Hylozoism     Hylozoism     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Hylozoism — Hy lo*zo ism, n. [Gr. ? wood, matter + ? life, fr. ? to live: cf. F. hylozo[ i]sme.] The doctrine that matter possesses a species of life and sensation, or that matter and life are inseparable. [R.] Cudworth. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hylozoism — [hī΄lō zō′iz΄əm, hī΄ləzō′iz΄əm] n. [< HYLO + Gr zōē, life (see BIO ) + ISM] the doctrine that all matter has life, or that life is inseparable from matter hylozoist n. hylozoistic adj …   English World dictionary

  • hylozoism — noun Etymology: Greek hylē matter, literally, wood + zōos alive, living; akin to Greek zōē life more at quick Date: 1678 a doctrine held especially by early Greek philosophers that all matter has life • hylozoist noun • hylozoistic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hylozoism — noun A philosophical doctrine espousing that all or some material things possess life, or that all life is inseparable from matter …   Wiktionary

  • hylozoism — The doctrine that all matter is endowed with life …   Philosophy dictionary

  • hylozoism — doctrine that all matter is endowed with life Philosophical Isms …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • Hylozoism — the philosophical conjecture that all or some material things possess life, or that all life is inseparable from matter …   Mini philosophy glossary

  • hylozoism — [ˌhʌɪlə(ʊ) zəʊɪz(ə)m] noun Philosophy the doctrine that all matter has life. Origin C17: from hylo + Gk zōē life …   English new terms dictionary

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