What is a Principle?

What is a principle? What does it mean to live a principled life? Is living a principled life the same as living an examined life?


“origin, source, beginning; rule of conduct; axiom, basic assumption; elemental aspect of a craft or discipline,”

Principles are where motives and drives comes from. It’s at the beginning of how we live. Most of them we just accept and hardly think about in themselves to determine if they are valid or good to have. We just let them drive us in life. The axioms we accept accept as a foundation for how we make other choices. If we’re unaware of these foundational axioms and whether they stand true, then we haven’t examined ourselves to really see if we’re living a principled life or not.

Our observations, along with other senses and the experiences we generate from within, get distilled into knowledge and abstract ideas that interconnect that knowledge. Some of these ideas about how we try to make sense of things get places as principles that drive and motivate our decisions and behavior.

But are those principles true, or are they false? Imagine speaking to someone and trying to create a common understanding. If a misunderstanding occurs, you are not on the same page. Similarly in life, if we lead ourselves by misunderstandings, i.e. falsity, we can end up on a wrong page of life.

Are we aware of the principles we live by? Integrating principles together provides a contrast to see if they are irrational, contradictory or inconsistent together. If so, something doesn’t fit in how you live or behave and needs to be corrected in order to have an integrated philosophy for living.

This is part of what an examined life is about. We can engage in self-analysis, reflection, introspection, contemplation or self-examination to review and change ourselves for the better.

What happens when one contradicts the other? It means we’re not living the integrated life we could be. Allowing a contradiction or inconsistency to remain in our way of living — in our philosophic system — means we are living a disintegrated, disunited and disharmonious way of life that emanates from within the contradictory and confused internal state of who we are.

We can use our conscious, willful and voluntary thinking to go deeper into rationally comprehending ourselves to correct the fallacies and biases that warp an accurate understanding of ourselves and reality, then self-direct our path forward in awareness of what we are doing. Or we can ignorantly be unaware of ourselves as we involuntarily and automatically live from unconscious or contradictory motivations that build up without our awareness into an unconscious or subconscious misshaped philosophy that guides our way of life.

The various things we have been influenced and conditioned with — from our environment, society, parents, media, etc. — in our former or current unthinking way of living, have all been abstracted into interconnected or isolated ideas that have become part of our self-view and worldview.

Contradictions and inconsistencies are detected when we look at much of the information or knowledge together. Filtration of cognitive errors and false information can’t occur if we have no medium to filter against. Reality is the base to filter against at first, then ideas can be cross-examined for integrity.

As we correlate one idea to another, the errors can be detected as pieces clash and oppose. We can then verify which is correct, if either. When one is evaluated as being false, it can be filtered from our philosophical framework so as to not be included in our foundational drives and motivations in life.

Accurate, valid and true principles will guide us correctly in life. Moral principles learned from an objective appraisal of how actions and behaviors affect or harm others will serve as a compass for our decisions. Truth is found in the objective reality, existence. We share that external objective reality in common despite our individual personal preferences, experiences and internal subjective realities that form our own map of the territory that is objective reality. But we all share that common root in the foundation of existence. We can all learn and live more principled lives in different ways that suit us, and also in common moral ways for all, if we want to, despite all being different and having different preferences.

Thank you for your time and attention! I appreciate the knowledge reaching more people. Take care. Peace.