Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


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.

vi′tal·ist adj. & n.
vi′tal·is′tic adj.


(Philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that the phenomena of life cannot be explained in purely mechanical terms because there is something immaterial which distinguishes living from inanimate matter. Compare dynamism, mechanism
ˈvitalist n, adj
ˌvitalˈistic adj


(ˈvaɪt lˌɪz əm)
1. the doctrine that phenomena are only partly controlled by mechanical forces, and are in some measure self-determining. Compare dynamism (def. 1), mechanism (def. 6).
2. Biol. a doctrine that attributes the viability of a living organism to a vital principle distinct from the physical and chemical processes of life.
vi′tal•ist, n., adj.
vi`tal•is′tic, adj.
vi`tal•is′ti•cal•ly, adv.


1. Philosophy. the doctrine that phenomena are only partly controlled by mechanistic forces and are in some measure self-determining.
2. Biology. the doctrine that the life in living organisms is caused and sustained by a vital principle that is distinct from all physical and chemical forces. Cf. mechanism. — vitalist, n. — vitalistic, adj.
See also: Life
1. the doctrine that phenomena are only partly controlled by mechanical forces and are in some measure self-determining. Cf. mechanism, organicism.
2. the doctrine that ascribes the functions of a living organism to a vital principle (as élan vital) distinct from physical or chemical forces. Cf. dynamism.vitalist, n., adj.vitalistic, adj.
See also: Philosophy
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.vitalism - (philosophy) a doctrine that life is a vital principle distinct from physics and chemistry
philosophy - the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics
philosophical doctrine, philosophical theory - a doctrine accepted by adherents to a philosophy
References in periodicals archive ?
But the philosophical analysis that concludes that we must choose between materialism and some form of vitalism is based on a limited understanding of the options.
Arnolad Ehret (1866-1922) was a German health educator and author of several books on diet, detoxification, fruitarianism, fasting, food combining, health, longevity, naturopathy, physical culture, and vitalism.
Downer; Vitalism and the crisis of sensibility, Joseph R.
7) Yet Coleridge is as much repelled as fascinated by vitalism.
Lastly, in order to encourage youth to "refuel grassroots dynamism" in the American economy, "the main ideas of modern thought, including individualism and vitalism, need to be reintroduced in the economy.
Green fort seems to play on the pre-Enlightenment "fascination with ideas and explanatory models circling around life and the life force itself," as the press release says: "the doctrine, also known as vitalism, that there exists a certain force constituting life itself, a force that cannot be made or copied, a vis vita/is.
Out of Character: Modernism, Vitalism, Psychic Life is an intense analysis about how fictitious characters are used to create literary art.
This contradicted the widely held doctrine of vitalism, which claimed that chemicals made by living organisms could never be made in the laboratory.
Nietzsche, he thinks, is a pioneering philosopher precisely because he understood the philosophical implications of evolutionary theory; however, it is because Nietzsche (definitely) rejected Darwinian mechanism and (allegedly) embraced a form of vitalism that Dennett rejects his philosophy of the will to power.
Thus, the author of the article deplores the crisis of the continental social-democracy, the social division and the political disengagement of the European society, being convinced that "a new politics of the left must galvanise the vitalism of the cosmopolitan cultures of difference while being an advocate for mainstream conservative culture.
Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called vital energy or vital force guides bodily processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and adaptation.
Oakes provides a detailed history of the idea of vitalism emerging in the period when the novel was written, an idea proposed in some of its versions as a materialist replacement for the theological concept of the soul.