The world soul (Greek: ψυχή κόσμου, Latin: Anima mundi) has been a component of several systems of thought. Its proponents claim that it permeates the cosmos and animates all matter, just as the soul animates the human body. The idea originated with Plato and was an important component of most Neoplatonic systems:

Therefore, we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.[1]

The Stoics believed it to be the only vital force in the universe. It also features in systems of eastern philosophy in the Brahman-Atman of Hinduism, and in the School of Yin-Yang, Taoism, and Neo-Confucianism as qi.

Similar concepts were held by hermetic philosophers like Paracelsus, and by Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz and later by Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854). It has been elaborated since the 1960s by Gaia theorists such as James Lovelock.

See also


  1. Plato, Timaeus, 29/30; 4th century BCE

Further reading

Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Anima mundi. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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