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Three Tenets To Life
Many philosophers believe there are two elements in the universe: cause and matter. Aristotle states there are four elements. Matter, the craftsman, the form, and idos or the purpose of the work. Plato adds a fifth element - the idea or the vision in which the artist or craftsmen possesses in his head of what the end result will be, the form.
There is no need to get into the nuances of each philosophy as Aristotle states the forms are int the particulars (the matter) and Plato states the forms are independent of the particulars. What we are focused on is how does one take the idea of first principles and apply it to ones life to achieve human flourishing. This is a very American approach, Americans want action over words. Facta non Verba.
How does one lead a life of maximal flourishing through Health, Wealth, and Wisdom? These three tenets have been discussed throughout history by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, and Benjamin Franklin, to name a few.
Many of these men have suggested applying a first principles approach when making decisions throughout ones life. Once one understands the essence of something one is able use the acquired knowledge to their advantage in whatever they so choose. One should consider the material cause (what is it composed of), the formal cause (the arrangement of the matter), the efficient cause (the agent or primary source), and the final cause of things (telos, purpose). If one is able to reduce every decision, or at least, major decisions down to first principles one will be able to clearly navigate the path to attain the stated objective. Clarity is key. One can meander down the wrong path forever without realizing it.
I am a believer in first principles thinking as well, that is why clearly defining the objective is a splendid place to start. But how do we take the metaphysical and apply it pragmatically to our daily lives? One can start by reading Aristotle and then the American Pragmatists - John Dewey and the like.
Health: Strength and vitality — the ability to move fluidly through daily life and have the energy to complete all tasks. Strength is health.
Wealth: Freedom to pursue things of interest and wonder without the fear of poverty or ridicule. This is easiest when you realize you need but very little to thrive and survive.
Wisdom: Intellectual freedom. To possess both open mindedness and rationality that can be applied throughout ones life. Once you identify specific-personalized meanings of not only these words but countless others you will be able to create principles to guide you throughout life. Principles you create promote rational decision making and the flexibility needed to thrive in this ever changing world, where the only thing we can count on is a constant state of flux.
In short, one should apply first principles thinking to all aspects of ones life. The material cause (what is it composed of), the formal cause (the arrangement of the matter), the efficient cause (the agent or primary source), and the final cause of things (telos, purpose). Having the beginning and end in mind allows one to fill in the middle more efficiently and move through life with clarity.