Not long ago the affairs of mankind were thought to be controlled by the gods. The idea of self-improvement/self-empowerment is relatively new and yet today it is a multi-billion-dollar business. The acceptance of modern theories in psychology together with advances in our definition of freedom has led to a mobile society such as no other time in history. We are upward mobile, mobile as to where we live, mobile in our expectations and truly believe that a member of our society can become almost anything they really desire to be. Now admittedly there are a few holdouts—those that believe the mind should never be messed with, those convinced that hypnosis, psychotherapy, and so forth are of the devil; essentially those that still believe that man is faulty and as such must beg his way to salvation. Still, for the most part, the western culture accepts that mankind can create his destiny and at the very least improve his lot in life.
The Starting Place
Why does this matter? History is a great teacher. The struggles that have led from the 13th Century Magna Carta to today’s modern concepts of liberty, justice and freedom for all are of no small consequence. A mere glance at the world today and its socio-economic and political divides informs us that there is no agreement on what one might refer to as a human first principle.
What is a first principle of agreement? It is what I like to think of as a starting place for peace in the world. There can never be peace as long as ethnocentric and religious bias teaches a point of view instead of fact. Take for example the idea that life is sacred. One might think that everyone could agree on at least this as a first principle in the affairs of man—a sort of moral imperative that applies to all. We would state our first principle this way: Every human being has a right to life.
In science, a first principle is held to be a premise or hypothesis that cannot be proven. As the great mathematician Kurt Gödel put it, “All first principles are inherently un-provable.” However, what can be done with a first principle, say the one in physics that Dr. Steven W. Hawking made famous, the Big Bang, is to test the principle by testing theories the principle implies. For example, a Big Bang implies an expanding universe—test this and if verified it tends to support the first principle.
To apply a first principle to man may be somewhat of a departure from traditional applications of its usage. However, I would submit that it is both needed and appropriate. This is why. First principles do at least two things for the communities involved with its application. The first is to lead the communities in exploring the implications and developing methods to cross-pollinate between disciplines such as chemistry and physics. The second is to provide a visual landscape, if you will, that can be embraced by all lay persons and specialists.
Okay, so say we have a first principle and we call it “Life.” We assume that all human life is precious and that all human beings have a right to life. We cannot prove this any more than we can prove the Big Bang, but we can work out a number of theories or ways to test the principle especially in the disciplines of political science, sociology, psychology, and so forth. We can also create a visual framework that most will at least initially embrace. Therefore, as simple as this may seem, its elegance is in the agreement that “All human beings have a right to life.”
If the world would accept this one simple premise, then wars might just be minimized, if not ended. Unfortunately, the fact is that the world does not accept this premise. Indeed, there are many in the world that believe it is their duty to kill others. A life has no special meaning or value for some if that life fails to believe a certain way or in a certain thing. Given this sad state of the world, how and where does one begin to reach that simple accord, “All human life is sacred?”
What are your thoughts and ideas—I sincerely would like to know.
Thanks for the read,