Between modern materialism and hylozoism proper there is, however, the distinction that the ancients, however vaguely, conceived the elemental matter as being in some sense animate if not actually conscious and conative.
The pre-Socratics may be classed as naïve materialists in this sense; though, as at that early period the contrast between matter and spirit had not been' fully realized and matter was credited with properties that belong to life, it is usual to apply the term hylozoism to the earliest stage of Greek metaphysical theory.
He, in fact, returns to ancient hylozoism, which has tended to revive from time to time in the history of thought.
Fechner's panpsychism has a certain affinity both to Stahl's animism and to the hylozoism of materialists such as Haeckel.
Such theories are the modern scientific or semi-scientific counterparts of the primitive animism of savage races, and may be compared with the hylozoism of the Greek physicists.
Further, it is difficult not to accept Cicero's statement that Anaximenes made air a conscious deity; we are, at all events, justified in regarding Anaximenes as a link (perhaps an unconscious link) between crude Hylozoism and definitely metaphysical theories of existence.
His vague dualism works a very distinct advance upon the crude hylozoism of the early Ionians (see Atom), and the criticisms of Plato and Aristotle show how highly his work was esteemed.
In fact they have reached the final result of unveiled hylozoism, from which the distinction of the active and passive principles is discerned to be a merely formal concession to Aristotle, a legacy from his dualistic doctrine.
But long before this the peculiar character of air had been recognized as something intermediate to the corporeal and the incorporeal: when Diogenes of Apollonia revived the old Ionian hylozoism in opposition to the dualism of Anaxagoras, he made this, the typical example of matter in the gaseous state, his one element.