noun. 1. the theory that the operations of living beings are ascertained, at least partially, by a life force or standard. Hans Driesch, a German biologist, was the primary exponent of this position, positing that life procedures are independent and purposive and potentialities for growth are recognized via the operating of an agent to which he gave the term "entelechy". French philosopher Henri Bergson coined this creative, vital force the "elan vital". 2. more typically, any theory which goes against naturalism and the lessening of psychological life to biological structures and procedures.
VITALISM: "Vitalism is the metaphysical doctrine which states that living organisms possess an inner force or energy that gives them the property of life."