First Principles

first-principle-quotes-4A first principle is somewhat similar to the concepts of axioms and maxims. However, the former is a truth taken to be self-evident, whereas the latter a starting point for further reasoning. A first principle on the other hand, is that on which everything else is constructed, the foundation of a life. These are frequently imbued in men during their childhood, as a form of social programming, in order to secure the investment of the male into the existing social order. A first principle of many blue pill men, is the framing of all female behavior in a positive light, which creates the foundation for events such as oneitis and white knighting. For if the female may never be perceived as engaging in negative behavior, it follows that her position may never be a lower one in his mind.

The chosen first principles determine not only the manner in which a person processes information, and weight put on certain pieces of information. It determines the preferred data, the preferred methods of reasoning and the frame in which conclusions are formed. Thus, it follows that eliminating non-productive first principles from mental programming, and reprogramming the mind to utilize principles of higher quality and efficacy.

A prime example of faulty principles is illustrated in the story of a man who was programmed with a set of first principles:

A) Always be a good person

B) All rich people got rich by engaging in devious behavior.

Is it a surprise that this man struggled with his finances throughout his life? His first principle since birth inevitably linked financial success with behavior, which is not good. As his primary principle was “Always be a good person” it follows that in his mind, financial success would implicitly and intrinsically be in violation of this principle.

Seek to Understand on the Most Fundamental level

Of each particular thing, ask: What is it in itself? What is its nature?

A simple understanding is superior to a complex one, in that as complexity and elements are added to analysis, it inevitably complicates the process, adding caveats, exceptions, and unnecessary detail. This is not to argue that one should not seek complete understanding of a subject in all its complexity, but to draw attention to the tendency of human cognitive processes to seek more data, and complexity, which has the effect of making the simple complex. When a female makes the statement “It’s complicated” this is alluding to her inability to separate variables into distinct entities, which can be analyzed as separate constructs of mind. The ability to reduce the inherently complex to the ridiculously simple has the effect of aiding in action.

Rather than seeking immutable universal law, one should seek to identify the variables, constructs and axioms in their pure form, absent of influence and interpretation. To draw a parallel to the process of human mating, it is an act so simple that any species that engage in sexual reproduction can complete the act. Yet, for human beings owning to our intellect and ability to view the world as separate from ourselves, it requires thousands of written words, an armada of dating coaches, finally, many men and women fail at the process. The methodology of human reproduction is simple, human beings have made it complex for a myriad of reasons.

Simplicity has by many been made into a vice rather than a virtue, to the point where humans are more likely to accept a convoluted and inaccurate answer backed by statistics, rather than an accurate probability backed by praxeology. Demands for empirical evidence for that which is self-evident is becoming steadily more common, to the point where the axioms held by past generations as “common knowledge” must now be proven empirically. Perhaps the clearest example of this inherent vice is the growth industry within academia for research where the results are laughed at by every experienced practitioner because of either being self-evident or far removed from reality.

Means and Ends

You are still adrift while you still think that a means is an end.” Idries Shah

The distinction between means and ends, lay in intent rather than method. One man’s means may be another man’s end. The requirement to remain cognizant of which are the means to an end, and what is the end in itself, lays in the distractions along the path to progression. Many a man has convinced himself that his means was indeed his end in an effort to avoid perceived or actual risk. A man may reason that he will work at a corporation, engage in a given hobby, or pursue a field of study, not due to his desire for the career, enjoyment or gains in knowledge, but as a means to his desired end. However, in time his perception morphs, inaction defeats audacity and action, thus, the man ends up treating his former means as his end.

A grand illustration of this, are the many men who are working dead-end corporate jobs, that were originally intended as stepping stones to starting their own companies. The men that end up married to a woman not out of choice but out of convenience and due to social pressures. Thus, it follows that remaining aware of why you are engaging in a given set of actions, furthermore, the point where those actions have stopping being about the stepping stone and have transitioned into the foundation, is of critical importance.

Many a man has learned game in order to improve his success with women, yet end their days as a practitioner, and student of game at first opportunity. This may have been his intent all along, to learn the principles of game in order to secure a long-term monogamous relationship with a female of his choosing, thus this is his desired end, and game is the means to that end. However, his intent may also have been to live an affluent and outcome independent lifestyle in this part of his life, yet he elected to settle down at first opportunity. In this case, he failed to achieve the desired end, and in the process disposed of the means to that end, namely his freedom.

Means and ends are not static elements of life, akin to the laws of the universe, they are fluent and subjective in nature and frequently change. A man’s means may become his end as a result of conscious and reasoned choice, and there is nothing inherently flawed in this approach. However, frequently means become ends not from choice but rather from inaction. To draw on the corporate example, the man may have taken his corporate job in order to build experience and ability for his future endeavor. Yet, he became accustomed to the lifestyle afforded him by his vocation, in addition to addicted to the security and predictability of a low-risk approach to life. Thus, rather than being a conscious choice, his fear transition his means to his end, and he engages in post-hoc rationalization to defend himself from the onslaught of his own frustrations.

Keep Eyes on the Horizon

It takes the same effort to think small than to think big. But to think big frees you from the insignificant details.” Jorge Paulo Lemann

Our species is one that came to fruition as a result of millions of years of biological evolution, that inevitably selected for the traits that made our forebears successful in their situation. We are a species that grew up, not armed or armoured by nature, endowed with intellect and cunning. In a context where scarcity was the norm and danger the ever-present adversary, the cosmic principle of evolution by natural selection would have selected for those individuals who had the trait of rapid reaction to changing circumstance, and an ever-watchful eye on the moment.  This has naturally selected for those individuals that rather than keeping their eyes on the horizon, kept their eyes firmly on the ground searching for indicators of food, predators and the various pitfalls of our early existence.

Thus, it follows that we as a species remain firmly focused on activities that appear pressing to us in the present, rather than on the activities that build our success and affluence in the future. A common topic within literature on investment and business is the human tendency towards short-sighted behavior, a prime example of which, exists in the outsourcing of American manufacturing to China in exchange for cheap labour. While this enabled corporations to realize short-term profits due to lower costs of production. It also trained their future competition in the best practices that were the long-developed intellectual property of American corporations. Furthermore, it permitted their future competition to obtain technological knowledge at a much more rapid and cost-effective rate than the originators of said knowledge.

A vision oriented towards the barely visible horizon serves as a guiding axiom for present choices, ensuring that the actions of the present does not compromise the future. As humans live longer and longer, this causes the deviations in course to become more severe over time due to compounding. A man who may only live to see 50, can live a more risk filled life, and pay less attention to how actions in the present affects his future. A man who may live to be 100, must be more aware of the effect that present action has on his future. Whereas poor choices made in the youth of the former man may only affect him for a handful of years, poor choices made by the latter man may affect him for the majority of his life.

Trust Probability, Distrust Certainty

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” Bertrand Russell

Our world is one in which very few things are certain, and where things exist on a scale rather than as dichotomies. However, humans find solace in dichotomies as they free the mind from the uncomfortable action of thinking. For items where a large investment has to be made in the form of non-tangible elements such as emotion or faith, this is further compounded as the human through making such an investment is likely to have made large life concessions in one form or another. A man may suffer untold indignities at the hand of his partner, yet be so convinced by way of his emotional investment, that he rejects objective reality. Thus, he has lost one of the cardinal principles that differ between the sexes, the stronger connection of men to tangible reality.

Charlatans, influencers and sophists  frequently appeal to the anxiety eliminating effect that certainty has on the human psyche by offering that which they cannot offer. Utilizing audacity, and unwavering confidence, they may persuade those who are excessively neurotic to alter the trajectories of their lives in exceptionally excessive ways, to eliminate the uncertainty that plagues them. Accepting that our world exists not as binary elements, but as elements on a scale, in which the scale is in constant flux, offers a special form of freedom in which a man trusting in his own ability to apply his reason and intuitive understanding of probability can take conscious risk yet come out with limited negative consequence.

Perhaps the clearest example of this comes in the form of the approach anxiety felt by many men when they want to approach women. While we can theorize about the nature of this anxiety, and how it became part of the collective male psyche, perhaps the most probable explanation comes from the extreme consequences that a potential suitor would experience in our tribal times if he were to be rejected, or if he approached a woman who was already taken. In the case of the former, news of his rejection would spread throughout the tribe, thus severely limiting his future opportunities to mate as a result of diminished social power. In the case of the latter, his inevitable beating and possible murder at the hands of the woman’s mate would rob his future mating opportunities as a result of physical injury or death.

The Sufficiency Principle

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” John Locke

In previous times, our ancestors would be limited in the amount of knowledge and information they were able to obtain. This was a natural consequence of communication being limited across space, in our present world we live in the information age, where for the first time our access to knowledge outstrips our ability to ingest, process and utilize it. Thus, unlike our ancestors, our focus must be on limiting our intake of knowledge within the boundaries of our processing capability. In the spirit of the first principle, it is always possible to add more nuance and more detail to a chain of reasoning. Likewise, it is also possible to add copious redundant sources of data, in an increasingly complex chain of reasoning leading to bedlam.

While more information and knowledge is frequently a positive thing, and the ability to hold multiple contradictory data points or axioms in mind at the same time is a trait sorely lacking in many of the ideologues of present day. Such information overload is a leading cause of inaction. A major cause is principle before this, where each influencer of the masses is cocksure of the virtues of  their own position, and thus denigrates all positions in opposition to it. Thus people face a bell curve of certainty wherein less information leads to higher certainty and thus a penchant for action. Whereas more information to an increasing degree reduces certainty and thus action.

A person should therefore ingest only enough information to be confident in their ability to apply this information in practice, furthermore, make it their own through their powers of reasoning. Rather than gorge themselves on information to the point where they are so overwhelmed by external input that they inevitably slink back into solipsistic thinking.

The Razor of William of Occam

“Plurality is never to be posited without necessity.” William of Occam

The common form of this principle is the law of parsimony, and the original formulation is that when faced with competing hypotheses, one should select the one with the fewest assumptions. However the most practical application of this principle is to always reject the answer that leads to the highest volume of new questions. As alluded to earlier in this essay, humans have an in-born tendency to seek those immutable laws of the Universe, rather than those answers imbued with uncertainty. A human would rather have a clear, unflinching answer that has a high probability of being wrong, than one which is unclear and wavering but has a high probability of being correct.

An answer, that has the result of creating more questions that in turn require their own assumptions to answer, is no answer at all, but a net producer of more uncertainty. In seeking the most simple answer that requires the least assumption and which leads to the least new questions one is accomplishing three different things. The probability of being wrong is reduced, as with each assumption more uncertainty is added, and with each new question this is compounded. By rejecting answers, that give birth to an onslaught of new questions, one reduces the volume of highly situational answers that do little to solve the underlying question. Finally, one adheres to the first outlined principle, namely seeking to answer in the least complexity inducing manner.

The razor combined with the simplicity principle is the antidote to the tendency towards excessive planning, overthinking and redundant analysis, thus they inherently bias a person towards action.

Imperfect Action Defeats Perfect Inaction

It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.” Carl Von Clausewitz

The first principles in this essay build towards this final principle. Much too frequently, men will err on the side of caution and rationalize not taking in action until certainty takes the place of probability. However, certainty is no guarantee of success, it just alters the perception to favor action over inaction. To draw on the quote, the “friend-zone” often happens when a man fails to take action in an interpersonal relationship with a woman, due his desire to reduce his risk of rejection. However, rather than reducing his risk, it actually increases it.

Risk and failure are two things that humans grew very averse of during our evolution, probably as a result of those with a high tolerance for risk, action under uncertainty and failure had a higher probability of dying either having not reproduced or having reproduced less.This inherently predisposes humans towards seeking certainty and limits willingness to engage in action under uncertainty. Secondly, it is very easy to rationalize a lack of action with due diligence. For instance, someone who is going to start resistance training and greatly improve his nutrition, yet rather than just beginning he obsesses over how to make the most of his newbie gains, thus spending all his time researching and planning, rather than engaging in action.

The reason why dark triad principles and behaviors are such a powerful paradigm is that two of the tree traits, narcissism and psychopathy, inherently gives unabashed self-confidence and an absence of fear. An inherent trait and cardinal symptom of psychopathy is fearlessness [1], being fearless exposes a person to much higher levels of risk, yet when combined with the the traits of narcissism failure frequently fails to have an impact. The combination of fearlessness and extreme confidence is audacious action regardless of consequences.

Sources & More Reading

[1] The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton

 

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3 comments on “First Principles

  1. […] speak of means and ends in another post and this has become one of my first principles. If a goal is an end in itself, then achieving it is your ultimate goal, and therefore in your mind […]

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  2. […] go down, but the red pill is only fully swallowed from a kick to the testicles. This is the first-principle of self-improvement, it only happens as a result of opposition. A man who is perfectly happy will […]

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