Principles are basic generalisations used to guide our thinking, and therefore, our actions. They are the main form in which we use concepts, by grouping them together into general observations. This enables us to reduce an enormous number of specific concretes into manageable units, while still retaining all of the information essential for successful action. In this way, principles enable us to deal with the inherent complexity of human life. In fact, we wouldn’t be able to function without the guidance of principles. Their necessary use reflects the conceptual nature of the human form of consciousness. The mind operates by reference to concepts, and by extension, to principles — groups of conceptual ideas that make a general observation.
Principles are mental integrations. Properly formed, they identify cause-and-effect relationships, enabling us to think in causal terms and, therefore, to enact the causes necessary to achieve the desired effects — not only in the short term, but also into the distant future. Principles enable us to think, plan, and act with respect to the total span of our lives, and even beyond (e.g., the span of our children’s and grandchildren’s lives). Principles are a form of mental short hand, enabling an economy of ideas, in a similar way that concepts offer an economy of concretes.
We all employ principles, every day, all the time. You use the principle that water flows down hill every time you go to the bathroom. Imagine trying to run a business without the principle of selling your product or service for more than the sum total of your costs. To get a sense of how important the principle of order is, consider the example of a library that contains all knowledge, everything that you could possibly want to know. But, if all the books and pamphlets were simply thrown into one great big building, randomly scattered about the place in various rooms and cupboards. How much use would this be to anyone? Imagine trying to grow food without principles; or trying to cross the street without acting on principles! Without principles we would be lost in an endless sea of specific things, events, actions and phenomena. The world would be unintelligible.
We use principles in our thinking to go both forwards and backwards in the reasoning process. They help us understand why repeated examples of some phenomena happen as we reason backwards. For example, the question of why the sun rises and sets every day is explained by the principle of the earths rotation. And they also help to guide our future behaviour and predictions as we reason forwards using an understanding of fundamental causes. For example, Thomas Edison noticed that an electric current passing through a wire caused it to heat up, and glow. Identifying this principle enabled him to develop the idea, and to invent the light bulb.
Principles can be very broad and fundamental, or, very specific and narrow in their applicability. In this post we are examining the idea of using principles in our thinking process as a matter of principle. In the practice of this broad principle, the truth seeker uses narrower, more context specific principles, in both of the ways just mentioned, by both applying them to given concretes, and also looking for them as a means to explain a number of incidences of similar things.
For example, the general truth (principle) that, throughout history some men have always sought to control and exploit other men by deceptive means, can be helpful in guiding our whole approach to interpreting the mainstream news narrative. Similarly, there is a general truth that, if someone is known to habitually tell lies, then they have demonstrated that they are not to be trusted, this will guide us in gauging the likelihood of a particular individual (or source of information) being trustworthy. These are both applications of narrower principles.
To illustrate looking for principles, in the search for a causal explanation, consider these examples. You may observe that the computer model predictions of climate change have been notoriously unreliable, and also that the computer model predictions of the spread of COVID were similarly unreliable. Also, bearing in mind the principle that a computer model can only be as good as the accuracy of the information programmed into it (garbage in — garbage out) you might conclude that, in principle, when computer model predictions are offered as proof of the necessity of some action/policy that inaccurate information is deliberately being programmed into the model. In other words, that a desired result is driving the model.
Consider another example. You may have uncovered compelling evidence of government involvement in several acts of false flag terrorism (those committed with the intent of disguising the actual source of responsibility, and thus pinning blame on another party) and you might conclude that (some) governments are prepared to sacrifice their own citizens to further a political agenda. [They certainly have the means to do so]
These are both examples of inductive reasoning — moving from the observation of 2 or more concretes to a general conclusion. Inductive reasoning is always less reliable that deductive reasoning, and admittedly the sample size in my examples is minimal. However the process can still yield valid results if we bring to bear the full context of our knowledge. This means considering all the other facts that we may know, in the sum of our knowledge, across all subjects and disciplines. When we apply the principle of observing full context in our thought process, then additional evidence can support the justification of drawing a particular principle. Thinking in principles will guide your investigation but it should not be considered a means of proof.
True or false?
Principles can be valid (true), or invalid (false).
A valid principle is one based on the observation of objective facts, and is thus rooted in reality. An invalid principle has no such connection to reality, and therefore, should not be considered as guidance to thought or action. So the way to discern if a principle is true — the means of validation — is to check and see if it’s derived from any discernible facts.
Acting on false principles, just like false information, inevitably leads to failure and suffering. Lets consider a few examples:
Imagine running your office guided by the principle of untidiness! How likely would it be that your business would be successful if you ran it on the principle of acting spontaneously to however you feel on the day? Imagine living your life according to the principle ‘live for today, because tomorrow never comes’. The fact is that tomorrow does come, and those who have not prepared themselves accordingly suffer the consequences.
None of these examples are based on observed facts of reality. There are no facts that support habitual untidiness, running a business on a whim, or living one’s life without any preparation or forward planning.
The principle of punctuality, on the other hand, is an example of a valid principle. It holds that it is good to always be on time for any appointments you may have. It is based on the observable objective facts of what happens when you habitually arrive late — upsetting people by keeping them waiting, missing trains or appointments, etc. Similarly, The principle of being honest in your dealings with other people, is valid because it, too, is rooted in the observable facts of reality, in the observable consequences of habitually lying.
It is the entrenched rejection of valid epistemological principles right across western culture that is one of the main reasons so many false ideas abound. However, deception and propaganda are powerless against those who adopt the correct epistemology (of reason) and think in principles while observing full context.
The rejection of this correct epistemology, along with its metahysical base, has resulted in a great many false ideas coming to dominate. But these false ideas and invalid principles — that reality is created by consciousness, that reality is not a fixed absolute, that there are no absolutes, that everything is relative, that reality is unknowable, that the mind is incompetent to know reality, etc, — can be seen as false by simply testing them yourself. With no impressive education, or letters after your name, you can determine whether or not a principle has any basis in the observable facts of objective reality. Bring these ideas back to the personal and apply them to the reality of everyday life. Imagine if you were to try walking across a busy street with your ear plugs in and your eyes closed, using only guidance from your higher self. You would quickly discover that reality is an objective absolute. Try learning a new skill such as basket weaving. You will quickly grasp that reality is fully knowable to your mind, and that you are fully capable of shaping matter according to your values into things that are real.
Remember that a principle is a statement or general observation that explains why the same thing happens in a host of similar situations. They are like patterns in reality. And because your mind functions as a pattern spotting device by its nature, which we can see from the way it forms concepts, identifying principles is not as hard as it may sound.
And yet principles are not self-evident, they are abstract conceptual observations that require a level of thinking above simply dealing with concretes, or particulars. This takes some effort, and a mental predisposition to do so. You are looking to identify patterns of similar outcomes or causes that can guide your expectations and inform your future predictions.
Principles serve to condense and integrate our observations into conceptual generalisations. For example, the entire science of meteorology rests on, and can be explained with reference to, fundamental principles governing the behaviour of solids, liquids and gases, at varying temperatures and pressures, combined with the principle of the earth’s rotation. Thinking in principles enables us to mentally zoom out, making it far easier to understand complex systems of inter-relating factors, such as weather patterns; and similarly, making it far easier to understand the complex inter-relating events we see on the global stage.
If someone is unable to recognise principles, they are said to be concrete bound. This means they tend to perceive specific concrete examples of things without recognising that they are observing just another specific example of a whole class of similar occurrences with a consistent causal explanation. To be concrete bound is to be predisposed to dealing with concretes, failing to conceptualise and see the abstract. This is the level of consciousness to which animals are necessarily limited. For people not thinking in principles, every single encounter is new and unique, without recognition or understanding. If one views events in global politics in this way, or the mainstream narrative as a whole in this way, understanding the big picture of what is going on will be impossible. Being stuck in the realm of concretes is a road block to greater understanding. This is why the ability to think in principles must be developed and/or improved by the truth seeker (in spite of any limitations in education), and practiced as a matter of principle.
Thinking in principles will guide you is the process of active integration of ideas. It is the habit of looking for patterns, looking for connections. It represents a conscious effort to expand the context in which you are considering any issue. For example, if you were seeking to determine the truth or falsehood of the climate emergency narrative, you may note that it serves as a very powerful potential motivator for controlling people’s behaviour. The same can be said for any health crisis involving contagion — such as a pandemic. The same can be said for false flag terrorism. The observation of what these three concretes have in common, namely their political usefulness in restricting and controlling public behaviour, is less likely to go unnoticed if one is thinking in principles. Thinking in principles guides you in integrating your knowledge into a meaningful world view, and therefore make sense of your world. Without this mental habit you will be unable to discern truth with respect to the big picture.
Lastly, I respectfully suggest that as a truth seeker, your remit extends beyond extrospection, or looking outwards, to gain knowledge of what is going on in the world, but also into the realm of introspection, and becoming more conscious of the principles that influence your thinking, and the choices governing your behaviour. Are you conscious of the principles by which you select your values, determine what is important, and thus determine how you to live? If you are conscious of them, have you chosen them? Or are you unconsciously acting out a program – like most people do — following the crowd, with respect to values. To know the truth in the broadest sense means to know how to live in a way that best supports your broadest rational self-interest. It is only by thinking in principles that can this be achieved.
The principle of thinking in principles tells us to always look for the generalisation that explains two or more concrete examples of a particular phenomena.