mechanism


mechanism
mechanismic, adj.
/mek"euh niz'euhm/, n.
1. an assembly of moving parts performing a complete functional motion, often being part of a large machine; linkage.
2. the agency or means by which an effect is produced or a purpose is accomplished.
3. machinery or mechanical appliances in general.
4. the structure or arrangement of parts of a machine or similar device, or of anything analogous.
5. the mechanical part of something; any mechanical device: the mechanism of a clock.
6. routine methods or procedures; mechanics: the mechanism of government.
7. mechanical execution, as in painting or music; technique.
8. the theory that everything in the universe is produced by matter in motion; materialism. Cf. dynamism (def. 1), vitalism (def. 1).
9. Philos.
a. the view that all natural processes are explicable in terms of Newtonian mechanics.
b. the view that all biological processes may be described in physicochemical terms.
10. Psychoanal. the habitual operation and interaction of psychological forces within an individual that assist in interpreting or dealing with the physical or psychological environment.
[1655-65; < NL mechanismus; LL mechanisma a contrivance < Gk mechan(é) MACHINE + NL -ismus, LL -isma -ISM]

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I
Form of materialism that holds that all natural processes can be explained in terms of laws of matter in motion.

Upholders of mechanism were mainly concerned with eliminating from science all occult entities, such as substantial form, that could not be empirically observed or mathematically treated. It thus opposed the use of teleological assumptions as explanatory principles in natural science (see teleology). See also atomism.
II
In mechanical construction, the means of transmitting and modifying motion in a machine or an assembly of mechanical parts.

The chief characteristic of the mechanism of a machine is that all members have constrained motion; that is, the parts can move only in certain ways in relation to each other. Despite its complexity, the mechanism of a machine can always be analyzed as a group of simple basic mechanisms, each of which contains members that transmit motion from one moving link to another. In general, motion is transmitted in one of three ways: by a wrapping connector such as a chain drive or belt drive, by direct contact as in a cam or gear, or by a pin-connected linkage.
III
(as used in expressions)

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      in mechanical construction, the means employed to transmit and modify motion in a machine or any assemblage of mechanical parts. The chief characteristic of the mechanism of a machine is that all members have constrained motion; i.e., the parts can move only in a determinate manner relative to one another. The nature of these relative motions is determined largely by the number of parts and the way in which they are connected.

      Regardless of its complexity, the mechanism of a machine can always be analyzed as an assemblage of simple basic mechanisms, each of which contains members or links that transmit motion from one moving link to another with or without modification in degree or kind. In general, there are three ways in which this can be done: by a wrapping connector such as a chain (q.v.) or belt (see belt drive); by direct contact as in a cam or gear (qq.v.); or by a pin-connected link (see linkage).

      in philosophy, the predominant form of Materialism, which holds that natural phenomena can and should be explained by reference to matter and motion and their laws. Upholders of this philosophy were mainly concerned with the elimination from science of such unobservables as substantial form and occult qualities that could not be related to the mathematical method. It rejected the notion of organisms by reducing biological functions to physical and chemical processes, thus putting an end to spirit–body dualism. The 17th-century chemist Robert Boyle raised the question whether mechanism could be combined with the assumption that nature has “designs.”

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Universalium. 2010.

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