<metaphysics, history of philosophy> belief that science can explain all natural phenomena in terms of the causal interactions among material particles, without any reference to intelligent agency or purpose. As employed by Descartes and Hobbes, mechanism offered an alternative to the scholastic reliance on explanatory appeals to final causes. Recommended Reading: Julien Offray de La Mettrie, Machine Man and Other Writings, ed. by Ann Thomson (Cambridge, 1996); Margaret Dauler Wilson, Ideas and Mechanism (Princeton, 1999); and Roger J. Faber, Clockwork Garden: On the Mechanistic Reduction of Living Things (Massachusetts, 1986).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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