Definition of vitalism in English:



  • The theory that the origin and phenomena of life are dependent on a force or principle distinct from purely chemical or physical forces.

    • ‘Unlike his Italian counterparts, Nolde looked to the art of non-Europeans as repositories for an authentic mysticism and vitalism that had been lost in industrial Europe.’
    • ‘Strangely, the pope's statement seems at odds with his own earlier writing, and comes curiously close to endorsing the notion of vitalism, a philosophy that he has firmly rejected in the past.’
    • ‘God has his own timetable for working his wonders, and a commitment to vitalism is hardly a robust expression of faith.’
    • ‘This insistence on empirical proof shows a profound misunderstanding of the essence of vitalism.’
    • ‘Since the demise of vitalism, we do not think of life per se as something distinct from living things.’
    • ‘But for long after that the elaborate organization of living things remained daunting and mysterious, and left plenty of room for vitalism as a respectable concept.’
    • ‘This work led to the elucidation of the enzymes involved, and also dealt a blow to vitalism, the belief that life possessed a special force that distinguished it from non-living chemicals.’
    • ‘It is often rooted in mysticism and a metaphysical belief in vitalism (Barrett).’
    • ‘Much of this controversy stemmed from the argument of mechanism versus vitalism.’
    • ‘Historically, vitalism stems from the romanticism of the 19th century, begins the 20th century as a right-wing philosophy, and during the late 20th century becomes a left-wing philosophy as well.’
    • ‘He discarded vitalism, the idea that living things possess a vital essence, that separates them from all other matter.’
    • ‘Such metaphysical systems are generally referred to as types of vitalism.’
    • ‘Influential Nazis tended to approve of the occult and of unscientific manifestations of vitalism and quasi-holism, including biodynamic farming, homeopathy, and a precursor of holistic medicine.’
    • ‘Energy medicines are based upon variants of the metaphysical theory known as vitalism, a theory that has been dead in the West for over a century.’
    • ‘We should stress that we are not suggesting any form of vitalism - the discredited notion that living matter differs from all other matter by possessing some peculiar ingredient or elan vital.’


Early 19th century: from French vitalisme, or from vital + -ism.