Welcome to the Vitalism learning project.
Vitalism is the idea that living organisms cannot be entirely explained in terms of the same forces and materials that account for the behavior of non-living objects. According to vitalism, there must be some additional "vital force" present in living organisms that distinguishes the living state from the non-living.
Vitalism is a natural philosophical position for humans who have no knowledge of the details of physical matter. Recognition of the molecular basis of life allows for a materialistic philosophical position which adopts the hypothesis that the same physical laws govern both living and non-living objects.
This learning project offers learning activities that review the history of vitalism as a theory of the living state.
Concepts to learn include how conceptual understanding of living organisms has changed through time and how modern science's approach to the study of life differs from pre-scientific ideas about life.
Learning materials and learning projects are located in the main Wikiversity namespace. Simply make a link to the name of the lesson (lessons are independent pages in the main namespace) and start writing!
You should also read about the Wikiversity:Learning model. Lessons should center on learning activities for Wikiversity participants. Learning materials and learning projects can be used by multiple projects. Cooperate with other departments that use the same learning resource.
- Chemistry and consciousness - a Biochemistry survey course; can all aspects of life be accounted for in terms of chemical processes?
- On the Soul: discussion group - Was Aristotle a Vitalist?
- History of organic chemistry at Wikibooks
- 1896 Matter and Memory by Henri Bergson, one of the last great advocates of Vitalism.
- The soul and the brain between anatomy and Naturphilosophie in the early nineteenth century by M. Hagner. (1992)
- 1996 Daniel Dennett's book "Kinds of Minds", Chapter 2. Dennett wrote, "Dualism...and Vitalism (the view that living things contain some some special physical but equally mysterious stuff-élan vital) have been relegated to the trash heap of history...."
- 1998 Bechtel, W. and Richardson, R. (1998). Vitalism. In E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge.
- 2005 On the Vitality of Vitalism by Monica Greco - comments on the continuing vitality of vitalism. (Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 22, No. 1, 15-27)
- Qi - Wikipedia article about a non-Western conceptualization of "life force".
- Read about vitalism (see the section above)
- Discuss vitalism (see next section)
- A Conversation with Rupert Sheldrake - interview by John David Ebert. How does the work of Rupert Sheldrake relate to Vitalism?
Additional helpful readings include:
Active participants in this Learning Group