1 In short: What is mechanical philosophy?
Mechanical philosophy is a school of thought that draws its conclusions from natural phenomena which can be perceived by humans. It is called "mechanical", because its adherents view the universe as a giant machine in which everything acts according to fixed laws. This includes all processes, even those related to living beings. This also means that there is no such things as chaos or freedom of will, since there is only one way for every interaction between objects of the universe to proceed.
2 What are the basic principles of mechanical philosophy?
Mechanical philosophy is based on three principles: a) materialism, b) determinism and c) causality.
a) Materialism: Everything consists only of matter, both living beings and non-living objects. Even human consciousness is only a product of matter and material interaction. There is no "spiritual realm" besides material existence. Energy (in its different forms like chemical, thermal, electric, ect.) is ultimately closely related to matter because both can be converted into one another.
b) Determinism: The objects in the universe can only interact in a fixed, unambiguous way. That means that all future events are already predefined from the beginning (maybe starting from the Big Bang, or even a time before). History unfolds like a huge, widely ramified and interconnected chain of dominoes. However, it is important to note that the future does not need to be predictable by humans for determinism to hold true. It is very likely that humans will never be able to predict future events with 100% certainty.
c) Causality: The law of causality states that every event (i.e. every effect) must have a cause. Nothing can happen without first being caused by another event. However, it is possible for an effect to be induced by different causes. It's important to keep in mind, however, that one and the same cause can never trigger a different effect than it does, because its effect is predetermined by the laws of nature and unambiguously defined. If this does seem to happen, both causes only appear to be identical on the surface. Causality is closely related to determinism.
3 Is mechanical philosophy atheistic?
There is no reason to assume the existence of a god from what we are able to observe in the natural world. Therefore, mechanical philosophy does not include the belief in one or more deities as religions like Christianity, Hinduism or Islam do. Besides that, it is barely defined what constitutes a deity at all. Therefore, the question might as well be left unanswered as long as no adequate definition can be given.
4 What are the benefits of mechanical philosophy?
Benefits of understanding and accepting mechanical philosophy may include:
a more rational and pragmatic approach to emotions and life in general
a more balanced attitude and ruggedness in the face of negative events
a greater ability to enjoy life
a greater focus on your personal happiness and less on "false" life goals
abolition of obstructive and unnecessary standards and traditions
freedom from excessive expectations of society and yourself
more gratefulness for the good things in your life
less unnecessary suffering and regret
more tolerance and compassion towards other people
less blaming of yourself and others
5 Why does mechanical philosophy reject free will?
Humans (as material beings) are subject to determinism just as anything else in the universe. The sum of their actions is the necessary result of their physical composition plus the particular circumstances. Therefore, the notion of free will as it is commonly understood ("I could have done otherwise.") is incompatible with mechanical philosophy. The rejection of free will is central to many of its practical conclusions which also lead to its benefits (see question 4).
6 If people they are not responsible for their actions, how could they be punished for crimes?
It is true that, according to mechanical philosophy, people are objectively not responsible for their actions. They do not have free will and are not be able to control the influencing factors which govern their actions. Therefore, they can not be held morally responsible. However, because humans are more or less rational beings, there is still a relative responsibility and the punishment of crimes may have an effect. To explain this further, one could think of the following example: It makes no sense to punish an animal if it killed a human, because the animal is not able to understand why it is being punished or why killing is considered to be prosecutable. This is usually different with a human being. Even without free will, laws and punishment may still have a (pragmatically) positive effect and can be used to prevent suffering and create a stable society. If the laws and punishments are not excessive and geared towards usefulness, both do not contradict mechanical philosophy.
7 What is the purpose of life, according to mechanical philosophy?
The most simple answer is: There is no purpose of life. But this statement should not be misunderstood as a defeatist attitude, because it only shows how life is a blank canvas for people to paint upon. There is no way to lead an objectively moral life (see question 8) and find your way into heaven after you died. Instead, you are free to make your life and the life of others as pleasurable as possible. Just the way you like.
8 What is mechanical philosophy's take on morality?
According to mechanical philosophy, every person just does what seems to be the best compromise between gaining pleasure and avoiding pain at all times. Every possibility is weighted according to the amount of positive and negative feelings it causes. The individual then simply chooses the one option with the best (expected) outcome. But because nobody can choose what kind of effect different actions have on them, there is no place for objective morality. A helpful person feels good helping others, another one simply does not care for their fellow human beings at all and spends their time on different things. One person is just as much of a pleasure seeker as the other, there is no moral superiority of either. Besides that, every culture (and every person) has different standards for morality, despite their common features. This means that moral convictions are relative and can never be applied universally.