Despite modern technology and life-changing scientific discoveries, the very definition of Life is still under debate.
Wikipedia states that "There is currently no consensus regarding the definition of life". Yet we can all differentiate easily an animate being from an inanimate object.
The word (in)animate comes from Latin anima, which stands for that life principle -called Vital Force in Homeopathy, Chi in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Prana in Yoga and Ayurveda.
Anima also later derived into âme in French, meaning soul.
This idea of a force, an energy animating living objects -and its absence equalling death- is so intuitive and deeply rooted into the human psyche that preschoolers naturally believe that Vitalism "makes humans active, prevents them from being taken ill, and enables them to grow. These relationships are also extended readily to other animals and even to plants."
This innate and ancient principle of vitalism has been ridiculed by modern medicine because the Vital Force could never be "found". This materialistic and reductionist vision is akin to taking apart a radio set to find the voices it emits. Vital Force is observable by the processes it engages, regulates and maintains. Respiration, perspiration, digestion, sleep, rejuvenation and renewal of cells... The human body is a system of a mind-boggling complexity and all the internal processes happening without us knowing and noticing must be initiated by something.
We can all notice how this Vital Force decreases with age and its disappearance coincides with death. Look at children: they are full of energy, love to play and run around and exhaust their parents, who often wonder where does all this energy come from. As we grow older, fatigue creeps upon us and we become more fragile, decrease in vitality, until the last flame goes out.
Thus many Holistic Health practitioners equal Life with the presence of Vital Force and aim at helping it and supporting it in its healing functions.