In science, hylozoism, synonymous with panbioism, is the belief that every physical object is alive. [1]

In 45BC, Cicero, in his On the Nature of the Gods, speaking through the voice of Balbus the Stoic, i.e. one who follows the teachings of Heraclitus, while not using the term “hylozoism”, states the living universe view as follows: [3]

“Here we must lend an ear to Plato, the god so to say among philosophers. His view is that motion is of two kinds, the first self-propelled and the second directed from without; and that which is achieved spontaneously of its own accord is more divine than that awakened by the thrust of another. Spontaneous motion he attributes only to souls; in his view, it is from them that all motion takes its rise. So since all motion has its origin in the heat within the universe, and since such heat is achieved spontaneously and not by an external thrust, that fiery heat mush be a living soul. In other words, the universe is alive (see: living universe).”

In 1678, Ralph Cudworth introduced the term hylozoism, from the Greek hyle matter” and zoe life”, aka "living matter", to characterize the the philosophical point of view that all matter (including the universe as a whole) is in some sense alive; dating, supposedly, dating from the Milesian school period of Greek philosophy, i.e. the teachings of Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. [2]

Some assert (Ѻ) that Immanuel Kant entertained ideas about hylozoism hypothesis; others (Ѻ) label Thales as a hylozoist.

The following are related quotes:

Aristotle noted of life that its lower limit defies demarcation. The living and non-living, he thought, merge one in the other gradually. Today the very distinction between them is convention. That deletes ‘life’ as a scientific category; or, if you will, carries it down to embrace the atom. The vanishing point of life is lost.”
Charles Sherrington (1938), Man on His Nature (pg. 77); cited (Ѻ) by William Guthrie (1957); cited (Ѻ) by Hamilton Tyler (1964) as an example of “animism”; cited by cited (Ѻ) someone (1976) as a ‘modern example’ of hylozoism.

“You agree with me that the single atom is not alive. What about two atoms? What about three? Does a bound state of atoms have to have a certain movement to be considered alive? What if we heat a system of four atoms, do they suddenly become alive? What if we subject a system of atoms to both gravitational and electromagnetic forces, does that suddenly make them alive? What if the two forces act to move smaller atoms through the cavities of larger atomic [structures] [molecules] on a cyclical basis, thus activating reactions [metabolism] in the process, does that make them alive? What if the two forces begin to arrange the atoms into hierarchies, and that smaller atoms and bundles of atoms begin to move between the hierarchies, does that make them alive? What if a structure of atoms, begin to turnover their internal atoms, with those of the surrounding space, on a cyclical basis, does that make it alive? It should be very obvious that no matter how many atoms one adds to the argument that an atom or a structure made of two or more atoms cannot be alive. It is my view that one cannot define an atom or two or more atoms structured as a bound state to be alive. The word itself and baggage of theory surrounding the word is meaningless. It is akin to the words: vitalism, élan vital, hylozoism, panpsychism, etc. From the point of view of the molecular evolution table, according to current views, rows 1-10 are considered to be not alive, rows 11-28 are considered to be alive, and rows 30 and above are not alive. Because of our anthropocentric biases, we continue to believe that we are unique among molecular structures, in that those much smaller or much bigger than us are not alive, whereas we are. It is a grave mistake to believe in this fallacy. I am not quite sure what the alternative theory is; but from the point of view of atoms, molecules, and the logic of the chemistry textbook, the theory of the conception an atom, or two or more attached atoms, being alive is absurd. This is my view.”
Libb Thims (2009), “Letter to Georgi Gladyshev”, Jan 2; cited by: DMR Sekhar (Ѻ), 7, 20 Aug 2010 and 2014 (Ѻ); Vangelis Stamatopoulos (Ѻ), 15 Nov 2010; David Bossens (Ѻ), 19 Jun 2012 and 3 Jan 2013; David Busse (Ѻ), 10 Dec 2013; YouTube forums (Ѻ), 2014; Georgi Gladyshev (Ѻ), 2014; among others (Ѻ) [3]

1. Rucker, Rudy. (2008). “A Formal Proof of Panpsychism and Hylozoism” (Ѻ),, Jan 22.
2. Rucker, Rudy. (2008). “Everything is Alive”, Submitted to the Kyoto ‘What is Life’ Conference October 2007;
3. (a) Thims, Libb. (2009). “Letter to Georgi Gladyshev”, Jan 2.
(b) Thims, Libb. (2009). “Letter: Life a Defunct Scientific Theory”, Journal of Human Thermodynamics, Vol. 5, pgs. 20-21.
(c) Sekhar, DMR. (2010). “Thread: An-att: On Self and Non-self (defunct life theory discussions), Aug 7,
(d) Sekhar, DMR. (2010). “The Paradox of Life: Life a Defunct Scientific Theory?”, Knol. Aug, 20; in:, 13 Feb 2011; in (c.2010).
(e) Stamatopoulos, Vangelis. (2010). “It’s Life Jim, but not as we Know it!”,, Nov. 15.
(f) Bossens, David. (2012). “Life, a defunct concept?”,, Jun 19.
(g) Bossens, David. (2013). Debates of the Hmolpedians (strong atheist, pg. 4; debates, pgs. 3-96). Lulu.
(h) Busse, David. (2013). “Viruses: Living or Not?”, Dec 10,
(g) DNews. (2014) Are Viruses Alive? (Feb thread discussion), YouTube.
Cicero. (45BC). The Nature of the Gods (Introduction, translation, and notes: Patrick Walsh) (pg. 58). Oxford University Press, 1998.

External links
Hylozoism – Wikipedia.

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