Ralph Cudworth  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hylozoism is the philosophical point of view that all matter (including the universe as a whole) is in some sense alive. This may include the view that "inanimate" matter has latent powers of abiogenesis, a widely held position in the scientific community. The term dates to the Milesian school of pre-socratic philosophers and in English was introduced as a concept by Ralph Cudworth in 1678.

Hylozoism in popular culture


  • Hylozoic Series: Sibyl (2012), the latest interactive installation of Canadian artist and architect Philip Beesley, is presented in the 18th Biennale of Sydney and is on display until September 16, 2012. Using sensors, LEDs, and shape memory alloy, Beesley constructs an interactive environment that responds to the actions of the audience, offering a vision of how buildings in the future might move, think and feel.


  • In mathematician and writer Rudy Rucker's novels "Postsingular" and "Hylozoic," the emergent sentience of all material things is described as a property of the technological singularity.
  • The Hylozoist is one of the Culture ships mentioned in Iain M. Banks's novel Surface Detail - appropriately, this ship is a member of the branch of Contact dealing with smart matter outbreaks.


  • The monster "Hylozoist" (sometimes spelled "Heirozoist") in the MMORPG Ragnarok Online is a plush rabbit doll with its mouth sewn shut, possessed by the spirit of a child. Although hylozoism has nothing to do with possession, it is clear that the name was derived from this ancient philosophy.


See also

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