(Greek: hyle, matter; zoe, life)
Term used to designate a doctrine according to which all matter possesses life, and which forms the basis of many false philosophical systems.
Animism, the earliest form of hylozoism, was the basis of primitive religion, and on it the Ionian school of philosophers built their system.
This primitive form disappeared when Plato and Aristotle differentiated between mind and matter, and hylozoism became materialistic with Strato, who explained life as a property of matter.
It grew pantheistic with the later Peripatetics, the Neo-Pythagoreans, and the Neo-Platonic school of Alexandria, which explained that there was life in all material beings but that perfections proceed from the soul.
The doctrine reappeared in Christian countries with the nature philosophers of the Renaissance, Paracelsus, Cardanus, Giordano Bruno, etc.
Spinoza combined the materialistic and pantheistic forms, and reduced mind and matter to the rank of attributes of one infinite substance.
Scientific hylozoism, as adhered to by Hackel, Spencer, Lotze, etc., protests against a mechanical view of the world, but tends to make all beings conform to a uniform pattern.
New Catholic Dictionary