What is first-principles thinking? - Deepstash
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What is first-principles thinking?

First-principles thinking is one of the best ways to reverse-engineer complicated problems and unleash creative possibilities. Sometimes called “reasoning from first principles”.

The idea is to break down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassemble them from the ground up.


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What is the difference between analogy and first-principles?

The difference between reasoning by first principles and reasoning by analogy is like the difference between being a chef and being a cook. If the cook lost the recipe, he’d be screwed. The chef, on the other hand, understands the flavor profiles and combinations at such a fundam...


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An analogy with trees

It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.


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How are we used to learning?

So much of what we believe is based on some authority figure telling us that something is true.

This way of learning applies to schools, where most teachers try to transfer knowledge to us through a mechanical process that doesn't involve reasoning which le...


713 reads

We tend to reason by analogy

How many times did we hear the phrase "We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way"? Personally, I would say many times.

When we reason by analogy we build our "reasoning" on top of impure assumptions and conventions. We tend to do this si...


862 reads

I don’t know what’s the matter with people: they don’t learn by understanding; they learn by some other way—by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!



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Software engineer by 🌞 and sleepyhead by 🌑. Software architecture. Distributed systems. Personal productivity. Cats.

I have always been against reasoning by analogy and this article explains very clearly why that way of reasoning is fundamentally broken.

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First-principles thinking

Breaking down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassemble them from the ground up.

It’s one of the best ways to learn to think for yourself, unlock your creative potential, and move from linear to non-linear results.

This approach was used by the philosopher Ar...

First Principles Thinking

First Principles Thinking

Is the act of deconstructing something to the fundamental parts that you know are true and building up from there.

Also called reasoning from first principles, it effectively helps many great thinkers (or entrepreneurs like Elon) to break down complicated p...

First Principles Thinking

First Principles Thinking

We normally use existing methodologies and analogies to solve problems, which is essentially short-cut thinking.
Engaging in 'First Principles Thinking' makes us discard existing knowledge, and get down to the essentials, exploring on our own and questioning everything. ...

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