What is the source for the idea that all matter is either domem (lifeless), tzomeach (plant), chai (animal), or medaber (speaker)?
I sometimes find this quoted places (in articles and divrei Torah), but have not been able to find a source? Is it a Gemara? A Midrash? A Chasidic teaching?
I even found this, where the Vilna Gaon says "it is known": http://dafyomireview.com/article.php?docid=270&style=print