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The theory that animal functions are dependent upon a special form of energy or force, the vital force, distinct from the physical forces.
Synonym(s): vis vitae, vis vitalis
[L. vitalis, pertaining to life]


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.


A philosophical stance, which is unprovable by currently available techniques, that animal functions hinge on a vital force distinct from physically measurable forces. Vitalism is the central theme of most forms of alternative healthcare, which holds that all humans have a soul or spirit that continues to exist after death as a form of energy or vital force.


Alternative medicine Referring to a system of health care which is based on the belief that the nervous system is the most important determinant of a person's state of health; according to chiropractic
theory, most diseases are the result of 'nerve interference,' caused by spinal subluxations, which are said to respond to spinal manipulation; abnormal nerve function may result in musculoskeletal derangements and aggravate pathologic processes in other body regions or organs. See Chiropractor, Medically-oriented chiropractic, Mixed chiropractic, Network chiropractic, Straight chiropractic, Subluxation-based chiropractic. Cf Massage therapy, Osteopathic medicine.
Principles of chiropractic
Vitalism The body has an intrinsic ability to heal itself; the chiropractor's role is to facilitate the body's ability to restore the vital or life force–termed innate intelligence, to its optimum level, and therefore be allowed to heal itself
Holism All organs and systems function as one interconnected unit; anything that affects the nervous system has widespread effects elsewhere in the body
Correction of subluxation Subluxation is defined as a malalignment of the vertebrae that causes pressure on the spinal cord, nerve roots, and nerves; chiropractics have labelled this subluxation-induced pressure on nerves 'nerve reflex'–which has a different connotation for neurologists


The now largely abandoned philosophical idea that some kind of postulated ‘life force’ is necessary before any biological entity can be said to be living. The growth of molecular cell biology in recent years has progressively reduced the need for such a notion as it progressively explains the phenomena of life in physicochemical terms.


a theory which postulates that biological phenomena cannot be expressed solely in physical and chemical terms.

vitalism (vīˑ·tl·i·zm),

n doctrine that a nonphysical energy permeates all living organisms and that gives them the property of life. See also prana and qi.

Patient discussion about vitalism

Q. Is nutrition vital for healthy hair growth? I am engaged to a girl 3 months back and our marriage is on coming month. I was above heavens when my girl told me that I am handsome. Now I am afraid whether she will hate me soon bcoz, for the past few days I have had drastic hair fall. I feel to be taking less nutrition diet. Is nutrition vital for healthy hair growth? I have dreamt my life with that beautiful angel and never want to lose on that. She can definitely add face value to my happy life. Please guide me to marry my beautiful girl.


Q. I was shocked to note that genes play a vital role in building muscles Is this possible? I am , 20 years old. I am always dreaming to build muscle like my favorite hero who maintains 8 abs. Anybody can dream but to live that dream is a difficult task. Out of curiosity, I had discussed my desire to build muscles with my friends. But I was shocked to note that genes play a vital role in building muscles. My family doesn’t have a history of muscles and this fact has put me in to a difficult situation. Is this possible…If so, how can I live my dream? If the family doesn’t have a history of muscle growth, then what happens to the generation which follows them? I need a positive feedback to my query……

A. there's a genetic potential for fitness, like there is a genetic connection and potential for inelegance. but no matter how smart are your parents- if you won't study you won't live that potential, and some one who doesn't have that genetic ability and will study- will be better. the same thing with physical fitness.

More discussions about vitalism
References in periodicals archive ?
In a very Nietzschean sense, the Futurist renewal must go through a renunciation of history in order to achieve the pure vitalism of animals or machines.
Her approach is more hortatory or even prophetic, urging readers to rediscover the language of vitalism infusing these poems and thereby change our approach to the poetry and to nature itself.
67) Mayr and Crick agree that biology has no room for vitalism or teleology.
Inaugurating a new way of writing closely inspired by the rhythm of jazz--Giorgio Rimondi calls it "syncopated writing" (Rimondi 126-127)--Jablowsky saw in jazz that kind of anti-classical vitalism that moved not only the futurist avant-garde, but also the early fascist youth attracted by the message of Georges Sorel's activism (on fascist Sorelism, see Gentile; Roth).
In this respect, there is continuity between Malone's manic conclusion in Malone Dies and these later plays where the sense of an ending brings about fleeting, but compelling, instances of vitalism in the face of death, giving extinction that very animation which is its opposite.
Roe, Nine Australian Progressives: vitalism in bourgeois thought 1890-1960, Brisbane, University of Queensland Press, 1984, p.
Recent local contributions to the perennial dispute over creation versus evolution have sought to address the philosophical aspects of the issue, but in so doing they have wrongly characterized the tradition of vitalism.
The surprising thing about this development from holism and even vitalism to molecular biology is that it is occurring some decades after--and not before--a profound change in just the opposite direction took place at the foundations of natural science, in microphysics, during the first third of the century that recently ended.
Not to lose track of the current argument, we need to skip Bakhtin's critique of vitalism and Driesch's "entelechy" argument at this point.
2) Vitalism describes the ancient Japanese belief and worship of the power kami (deity), or sacred energy.
Vitalism is a philosophy of process in attendance to a complex networked world of living and inanimate things (Muecke 2004:21).
Vitalism held that life arises from and involves special "life forces" that are apart from the purely physical/chemical realm.