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Vitalism in Philosophy - EASY Definition and 5 Characteristics

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Vitalism in philosophy: definition and characteristics

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In this lesson from a TEACHER, we will explain the meaning of the term vitalism in philosophy, its definition and characteristics more important, a philosophical theory that defends that life cannot be reduced to any category other than itself, but that life has a reality of its own. In the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some of the most relevant philosophers developed the vitalist doctrine. Next we will explain what vitalism is, if you want to know more, continue reading this article.

Vitalism is a philosophical doctrine that defend life above all. Life is the fundamental reality, and therefore, you have to know it. And this life is presented to the different philosophers in biological sense, attending to the laws of nature and in the sense historical, considering the existence of the human being as it is life.

Nietzsche vitalism

Life in its biological context consists of al affirmation and revaluation of the body and instincts, the struggle for survival, nature, love and death, finiteness and the irrational part of life. The main representative of this line of thought is the German philosopher

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Friedrich Nietzsche.

When its own center of gravity is not situated in life, but in the "beyond", in nothingness, it is stripped of its essence. The great lie of personal immortality takes away from instinct everything that is right, of nature. From that moment, everything that is in the instincts of beneficial, of favoring of life and of guarantor of the future, arouses mistrust. The meaning of life then becomes living in such a way that it no longer makes sense to live. Of what use, then, is a sense of community, gratitude to origins and ancestors? Why collaborate, trust, promote and favor any form of general good? All these attitudes are temptations, deviations to the "straight path" (...) Every individual, as possessor of an "immortal soul", occupies the same level hierarchical than others (...) Any unbalanced blessed has the right to imagine that by him the laws of the nature. We will never curse with enough contempt an accentuation like this of all kinds of selfishness that goes to the limitless and even shamelessness (...) The "salvation of the soul" is equivalent, speaking in silver, to affirming that the world revolves around me ". F. Nietzsche. The Antichrist.

Ortega y Gasset's ratiovitalism

In its historical aspect, life is presented as a set of facts, of experiences located in space and time. The main representative of him is the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset, who develops his entire philosophy based on the categories of is included in this group. Ortega will use the categories of life understood in this way, experience, theory of generations or perspective.

The theme of our time consists of subjecting reason to vitality, locating it within the biological, subordinating it to the spontaneous. In a few years it will seem absurd that life has been required to put itself at the service of culture. The mission of the new time is precisely to convert the relationship and show that it is culture, reason, art, ethics who have to serve life ”. Ortega y Gasset. The topic of our time.

Vitalism in philosophy: definition and characteristics - Definition of vitalism in philosophy

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Important figures within the vitalist current were also Wilhelm Dilthey and Henri Bergson.

Wilhelm Dilthey

He defended the timeless and abstract character of enlightened reason, and founded his philosophy on the natural sciences.

The sciences of the spirit need a psychology that, above all, is firm and sure, something of which none of the psychologies can boast explanatory explanations that exist today, and that at the same time subject the whole powerful reality of psychic life to description, and, as far as possible, to the analysis. Because the analysis of the social and historical reality, so complex, can be carried out only if this reality is first disarticulated in the diverse systems of ends that compose it; These systems or final links, such as economic life, law, art and religion, then allow, thanks to their homogeneity, the analysis of their plot. But this fabric of such a system is nothing other than the psychic connection proper to the men who cooperate in these cultural ties. It is, therefore, a ultimately psychological connection ”. Wilhelm Dilthey. Ideas About a Descriptive and Analytical Psychology.

Henri Bergson

He affirmed that life is vital impulse, orvital elán, that opposes matter, in order to develop, evolve. Matter constitutes, for the philosopher, a brake on life. The object of philosophy would be the knowledge of the real.

What are we, what is our character but the condensation of the history that we have lived since our birth, even before our birth, since we carry with us dispositions prenatals? We certainly do not think with more than a small part of our past; but it is with our entire past, including our original soul curvature, that we wish, we want, we act ”. Henri Bergson. The ANDvolution Creadora

Vitalism in philosophy: definition and characteristics - Other representatives of vitalism in philosophy

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Despite the fact that there are different lines of thought within the vitalist doctrine, it is possible to speak of a series of characteristics common to the different authors. Here are the main ones:

  1. Vitalism affirms that reality is in constant evolution
  2. For this group of thinkers, the Liberty, it constitutes the essence of the human being.
  3. Replaces the concept of reason by that of temporality, historischism, irrationality, subjectivity, perspectivism, individualism, change, etc...
  4. The vitalist doctrine appeared in the field of science as a reaction to the materialistic mechanism and in philosophy against rationalism.

F. Nietzsche.The Antichrist. Ed. Biblos.

Ortega y Gasset. The topic of our time. Ed. Espasa Calpe.

William Dilthey. Two Writings on Hermeneutics. Ed. Akal.

Henri Bergson. The ANDvolution Creadora. Ed. Planeta-Agostini.

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