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Catholic Dictionary




An ancient Greek theory, later defended by the Stoics and, in modern times, by the French materialists, which holds that all things are in some degree alive. Without accepting pure mechanism, they reject the real distinction between matter and spirit. Closely related to this is the pantheistic hylozoism of the Renaissance, taught by such nature philosophers as Paracelsus, Cardanus and Giordano Bruno. They held that everything is animated as a radiation of the divinity. Spinoza (1632-77) combined the materialistic and pantheistic forms of hylozoism and reduced everything in the universe to attributes of the one infinite substance. (Etym. Greek hyl_, matter + z__, life.)