Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena.
  • n. The belief in the existence of spiritual beings that are separable or separate from bodies.
  • n. The hypothesis holding that an immaterial force animates the universe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A belief that spirits inhabit some or all classes of natural objects or phenomena.
  • n. A belief that an immaterial force animates the universe.
  • n. A doctrine that animal life is produced by an immaterial spirit.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The doctrine, taught by Stahl, that the soul is the proper principle of life and development in the body.
  • n. The belief that inanimate objects and the phenomena of nature are endowed with personal life or a living soul; also, in an extended sense, the belief in the existence of soul or spirit apart from matter.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The hypothesis, original with Pythagoras and Plato, of a force (anima mundi, or soul of the world) immaterial but inseparable from matter, and giving to matter its form and movements.
  • n. The theory of vital action and of disease propounded by the German chemist G. E. Stahl (1660–1734); the theory that the soul (anima) is the vital principle, the source of both the normal and the abnormal phenomena of life.
  • n. The general conception of or the belief in souls and other spiritual beings; the explanation of all the phenomena in nature not due to obvious material causes by attributing them to spiritual agency.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the doctrine that all natural objects and the universe itself have souls

Etymologies

From Latin anima, soul.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
anima +‎ -ism, from Latin anima ("life", "breath", "soul"). Dated sense from German Animismus, coined c. 1720 by physicist/chemist Georg Ernst Stahl (1660-1734) See anima mundi. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Today the term animism has fallen into disuse among serious scholars of religion although it is still retained by some MISSIOLOGISTS.

    Concise Dictionary of Religion

  • «The ultimate source of the term animism is the Latin word, anima, meaning spirit, soul, or life force.

    www.blogalaxia.com Directorio y Buscador de Blogs Latinos

  • They were not just priests, as is a common misconception, but would have fallen into the class of bards, judges, teachers, etc … According to the Roman, Pliny the Elder, the Druids believed in animism (the belief that animals have souls) and reincarnation.

    Five Things You Might Not Know About Summer Solstice | myFiveBest

  • In terms of intent -- how we're meant to read God -- I think you absolutely have to distinguish the immanent all-pervasive divinity of animism from the transcendant all-powerful divinity of monotheism.

    A Dark And Hidden God

  • This worldview and lifeway is now being called animism (Graham Harvey and Robert J Wallis: Historical Dictionary of Shamanism)

    William Horden: God Is One Mind

  • Holistic cultures like those of Native Americans or Australian aborigines usually see human beings as part of a wider, natural universe in which everything is alive (a concept often called animism) and the life force is everywhere.

    Offerings Without an Altar

  • That type of mentality called animism which anthropologists designate as the essence of primitive man characterizes the Mother's mind.

    The Mother is a seer

  • He probably saw lakes and trees and lightning as actual, living beings, a view of the world called animism.

    Where To Park Your Broomstick

  • In the stage of human evolution known as animism, everything which acts -- or is supposed to act -- is supposed to be, like man himself, a person.

    The Idea of God in Early Religions

  • Primitive peoples, as we like to call them, believed that spirits inhabited physical objects, a perspective known as animism.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

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