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What are First Principles?

 , updated on August 08, 2023
A first principle is a basic foundational fact, theory or assumption. Each branch of science or domain of business is based on a set of first principles that can be applied to solve problems. For example, business is typically based on first principles of economics such as supply and demand.

Practical Assumptions

First principles aren't necessarily true. For example, you could adopt the principle that customer's take the path of least resistance such that they are likely to purchase the most convenient option. This may be a valuable principle that is useful to developing products and services -- even if it's not strictly true because some customers will not behave in this way.
Overview: First Principles
First principles can be used to guide decision making and problem solving. They represent basic known facts beyond which everything can be questioned to arrive at a solution.
Related Techniques
Next: Examples of First Principles

First Principles

This is the complete list of articles we have written about first principles.
Arrow Of Time
Art For Art's Sake
Keep It Small
KISS Principle
Ban The Average
Least Astonishment
Big Picture
Business As Usual
Worse Is Better
Complexity Hiding
Do No Harm
Fit For Purpose
Form Follows Function
Form Follows Nature
Genius Loci
Interchangeable Parts
Keep It Simple Stupid
Less Is A Bore
Less Is More
More Is Different
Path Of Least Resistance
Preserving Ambiguity
Think Global, Act Local
More ...
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First Principles

A list of common first principles.

Keep It Small

The definition of keep it small with examples.

Arrow Of Time

The definition of the arrow of time with examples.

Path Of Least Resistance

The definition of the path of least resistance with examples.

Creative Thinking Examples

An overview of creative thinking with examples.


The definition of rationalism with examples.


The definition of structure with examples.

Key Concepts

An overview of key concepts with examples.

Research Topics

A list of interesting research topics.

Examples of Problems

An overview of common types of problems.

Design Thinking

A list of design thinking techniques with examples.

Abstract Concept

The definition of abstract concept with examples.


The defining characteristics of modernism.

Simple Machines

An overview of the six simple machines of mechanical engineering.

Thinking Examples

Examples of different types of thinking.

Structure Opposite

A list of antonyms of structure.

Life Design

The definition of life design with examples.
The most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.

New Articles

Recent posts or updates on Simplicable.
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