Definitions

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

  • n. The theory or doctrine that life processes arise from or contain a nonmaterial vital principle and cannot be explained entirely as physical and chemical phenomena.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In biology, the doctrine that ascribes all the functions of an organism to a vital principle distinct from chemical and other physical forces.

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

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

Etymologies

vital +‎ -ism (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • If anti-vitalism is true, life does not suddenly appear where it was not present before.

    2010 February « Anglican Samizdat

  • That a chemical produced by natural organisms could be derived so easily in a flask threatened to overturn the entire conception of living organisms: for centuries, the chemistry of living organisms was thought to be imbued with some mystical property, a vital essence that could not be duplicated in a laboratory—a theory called vitalism.

    The Emperor of All Maladies

  • His fideist Weltanschauung also extends to other areas, e.g., he maintains that physics cannot be capable of explaining human consciousness, which is a mystical position known as vitalism: in effect that human-level sapience amounts to some type of soul that is beyond the study and description of science.

    The Simulation Argument and Christianity « Anglican Samizdat

  • The first and most traditional argument is the idea of vitalism or dualism.

    Sentient Developments

  • It used to be called "vitalism" by philosophers, and is contemptuously dismissed under that name nowadays by the few scientists educated enough to be aware of it.

    God and evolution: the state of the question

  • The atman concept originally conected to a kind of vitalism and supernaturalism that theories like Darwinian evolution have undermined.

    Summer Institute on Science and Religion at the Jefferson Center - The Panda's Thumb

  • Shtulman doesn't use the term 'vitalism' but transformationism as he characterizes it involves the following characteristics: 1. Variation: Individual differences are nonadaptive or maladaptive deviations from type.

    Intuitive Essentialism (IV)

  • The new 'vitalism' unfolds a living self-evolving universe, a restless, unfinished and never-to-be-finished development -- the scope and goal of which cannot be foreseen or explained.

    Christianity and Ethics A Handbook of Christian Ethics

  • Thus while the study of the behavior of life or the doctrine of "vitalism" might encourage us to think that in the cells and in the behavior of protoplasm we are witnessing the direct action of an intelligent Creator; yet we find that by the correlation of forces we must _say the same about all the physical and chemical phenomena of nature_.

    Q. E. D., or New Light on the Doctrine of Creation

  • Because biologists and their co-scientists can explain emergent properties/phenomena, if only sometimes in principle, by mechanisms that do not transcend interactions of matter and energy, any such 'vitalism' properly qualifies only as a 'materialistic vitalism'.

    Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium - Recent changes [en]

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