Thomas Hobbes: mechanism
One great lesson we learn from a study of philosophy is how interconnected the areas of human thought are. This matters much in an age where specialization and expertise are accepted as the norm. Hobbes provides an excellent object-lesson in connectedness, as he sought to ground the most complex topics (political and social organization) on observations about the physical world and logical method.
Hobbes produced one of the most sophisticated accounts of mechanist philosophy of the 17th century. Mechanism is the view that everything can be explained in terms of the causal relations of material objects. This view relies on philosophical materialism, which holds that there is only one category of things in existence; the stuff of the material world (whatever that is). Materialism and mechanism are opposed to philosophies of Dualism in which two distinct categories of things exist. Plato's two-level view of reality and Descartes' mind-body distinction are Dualist ideas.
Materialist and mechanist ideas have been around for a long time. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) recognized those ideas as major competators to religious philosophy when he posed them as Objection 2 in his famous Five Ways;
Hobbes certainly did hold that all things could be reduced to a single set of principles. This reduction applies to logic, physics, biology, psychology, morality, and politics. In the Leviathan, he builds from each of these in stages, showing how the later are based on principles of the former.
Hobbes asserts that all human actions, voluntary and involuntary, have their beginnings in bodily processes that he calls endeavours. These processes might take place in the brain or the muscles or whatever - that is a matter for physiologists to work out. The important point is that there is an interal physical process at the causal end of every human action. We are complex mechanisms.
Hobbes further asserts;
From the dynamics of human motivations, Hobbes further derives the basis of all values - good and evil.
This passage makes clear that good or evil is dependent upon the individual human being. Different people will see different things as good or evil depending on their appetites, aversions, and circumstances. Hobbes is a subjectivist when it comes to values. There is no objective basis in the things themselves for judgment of good or evil; the objective world is value neutral. Thus, if there is to be any objective guide to values at all, it must come from human beings. This is not an attractive view to religious and spiritual thinkers, but it is worth allowing this view (if just for the sake of argument) in order to see where Hobbes succeeeds in taking it.