- Either the view that all parts of matter involve consciousness, or the more holistic view that the whole world ‘is but the veil of an infinite realm of mental life’ ( Lotze ). The world, or nature, produces living creatures, and accordingly ought to be thought of as itself an alive and animated organism, literally describable as possessing reason, emotion, and a ‘world-soul’. The view that man is a microcosm, or small version of the cosmos, which can therefore be understood in anthropomorphic terms, is a staple 276 theme in Greek philosophy. It passed into the medieval period via Neoplatonism, and became shared by Leibniz, Schopenhauer, Schelling, and many others. Its most intelligible modern version is perhaps the view that for environmental reasons we do well to think as if the world is a complex organism (sometimes rather preciously called Gaia), whose unity is as fragile as that of any living thing.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.