A true understanding of the world.
Some ways of thinking are more useful than others.
First principles are the fundamental building blocks of an idea.
They are the most indivisible part that we know to be true.
We use them to build more complex thoughts.
This isn’t a new or ground breaking idea.
It’s been the approach of all great scientists and philosophers.
The single most consistent feature amongst great thinkers.
The smallest subcategory in any domain is what we would call a first principle.
Imagine a tree. Most people only see the fruit (accepted knowledge), but the unconventional thinker digs deeper, following branches down to the trunk (fundamental principles) and even the roots (first principles). This allows them to understand the “why” behind the “what,” leading to innovative solutions and unconventional thinking.
Aristotle’s categories, like a branching tree, organise knowledge into hierarchies. First-principles thinkers climb down these branches, questioning each level’s “why” until reaching the base - fundamental truths. This structured descent unravels assumptions, revealing new perspectives and innovative solutions, just like a botanist analysing a plant through its parts to its foundation.