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Thinking from first principles is not a new idea. It's actually the single most consistent factor among great thinkers.
For example, Aristotle believed that you could not possess true knowledge without first understanding the first principles. He thought that everything could be divided into categories and sub-categories (the smallest of them being the equivalent for first principles).
An empiricist is a person that believed all true knowledge is based and obtained through experience.
The process of seeking knowledge through experience and making use of reason to give it structure it how we can find the first principles of a subject.
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