vital principle

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Noun1.vital principle - a hypothetical force to which the functions and qualities peculiar to living things are sometimes ascribed
causal agency, causal agent, cause - any entity that produces an effect or is responsible for events or results
spirit - the vital principle or animating force within living things
References in classic literature ?
We know that, when the bodily constitution is gone, life is no longer endurable, though pampered with all kinds of meats and drinks, and having all wealth and all power; and shall we be told that when the very essence of the vital principle is undermined and corrupted, life is still worth having to a man, if only he be allowed to do whatever he likes with the single exception that he is not to acquire justice and virtue, or to escape from injustice and vice; assuming them both to be such as we have described?
I made all the necessary jokes about the strength of the vital principle in Lady Malkinshaw, and the broken condition of my own constitution; but he solemnly abstained from understanding one of them.
But throughout creation Nature has confined the vital principle within a narrow space, in order to concentrate its power; and so it is with the body politic.
Alas, it is not the death of the body I regret; for is not the destruction of the vital principle, the repose to which everything is tending, to which every unhappy being aspires, -- is not this the repose of matter after which I so long sighed, and which I was seeking to attain by the painful process of starvation when Faria appeared in my dungeon?
In him some vital principle have in strange way found their utmost.
On comparing, however, these valuable ingredients with the vital principles of liberty, we must perceive at once the difficulty of mingling them together in their due proportions.
Obama has dismantled a vital principle with one executive order and he will rightly pay a high political price for doing so.
Religious freedom (which, I might note, includes the right to reject all faiths) is a vital principle of American life.
TransGrid Managing Director, Peter McIntyre said that stakeholder engagement is a vital principle in sound planning and decision-making.
A further vital principle is at stake: the way our national legislature is elected should not be a matter for English MPs and the unelected lords and bishops next door.
Such a process would affirm the principle of national self-determination -- a vital principle that foreign-imposed statehood and indigenous autocracies have long denied ordinary men and women in the Arab world.
Humility is a most vital principle in effective leadership.