What is hylozoism?
Hylozoism is a philosophy that views all matter as being alive, either in itself or by participation in the operation of a world soul or some similar principle.
Throughout the history of thought, hylozoistic interpretations of nature have been common. Early Greek thinkers sought the beginning of all things in various material substances. Thales considered water as the primary substance and saw all things as “full of gods”; Anaximenes viewed air as the universal animating principle of the world. For Heracleitus it was fire. All of these elements were regarded as in some sense living, (or even divine) and taking an active part in the development of being.
The word hylozoism was coined in the 17th century by Ralph Cudworth (a Cambridge Platonist) who with Henry More (also a Cambridge Platonist) spoke of “plastic nature,” an unconscious and incorporeal substance that controls and organizes matter (somewhat like a plant soul in vegetation) and thus produces natural events as a divine instrument of change.