Elon Musks always looks at first principles. As he wants to fly to Mars, his first principles are based on physics. If his rocket’s speed can’t overcome the gravitational pull of the earth, he would never leave the surface of the planet by an inch. Another way to understand first principles is that they are the fundamentals determining a whole bunch of other stuff.
If we think of first principles in a Newtonian way, the impact of these principles can be predicted and calculated. If we think of first principles from a systems perspective, these principles’ influence cannot be predicted and calculated. Instead, it emerges out of the parts that participate in the system.
Applying this to sustainable lifestyles: the first principles are our ontology (who we think we are), our ethics (what we value), and our epistemology (how we know what we know). These three aspects form our personal philosophy. Our personal philosophy is the first principle of our lifestyle.