There may be no better way to guide my discussions and establish my positions on topics of morality and ethics, faith and philosophy, and policy, than to identify the first principles upon which conclusions can be founded. The concept of first principles is not exactly too complex for a summary definition, but I acknowledge that the term is applied with a spiderweb of nuance among established disciplines like logic, various sciences, and philosophy. Common among them is first principle as “a basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption.” In the context of this writing, I mean to present the foundation at the core of my convictions, here as an artifact of reference, as first principles.
The Life of Meaning
What is the meaning of life? This is the valid question so often asked, but I think it is fatally flawed. My question in return is, “What is meaning?” If we posit that life is the irreducible fact, the first principle, it infers that meaning is a dependent, subsequent, secondary quality of life. If so, define meaning. Without this necessary reversal, the answer will always be that life has no meaning simply because meaning cannot be apprehended by human inquiry. This is absurd. There is no evidence that humans should ever be able to discover the “meaning of life.” How can they discover what cannot be defined? How will they even know to ask the question?
However, if we posit instead that meaning is the first principle, then we can see that life follows meaning. In this way it is easy to understand why a useful definition of meaning is impossible. It is my foundational postulate to state that all of existence, including the conscious observer, are made out of meaning.
This statement opposes the assertion that life has no meaning and that nothing matters, and it refutes declarations that meaning can be practically defined at all. The so-called “meaning of life” is independent of human ignorance. Meaning has no component parts, is dependent on no other principle to support it. From this first principle, I can state that everything matters.
Sovereign and Sacred Life
The terms sovereign and sacred are for my purposes absolutely interchangeable, although not synonymous. Each includes the other. Sovereign can be understood as a secular quality of inviolability, but sacred is exclusive to divinity. One is sovereign because each life is sacred, expressed as inviolable sovereignty. This recursive notion describes my next first principle.
The very ideas of justice and human rights, of the inalienable rights of the human individual including free will, liberty and freedom, self-determination, come directly from this first principle. In my view there are are only two opposing positions, both appallingly, ignorantly evil. One argument is that the individual belongs to the community, which is the state, so that the value and liberty of the living individual is determined by the state. The other argument suggests that nothing is sacred, that the experience of life has no value — again, no meaning. So I might even suggest my two first principles are in essence one, together at once affirming the priceless nature of being.
By establishing this pair of first principles I am able to make a number of secondary assertions with conviction. We could say they are beliefs — although I intend to treat the word belief separately. It is not my intention to name every possible conviction in this post, but rather to indicate how I arrive at such conclusions from first principles.
In the case of meaning, I can see no better explanation than divine will at the source of meaning and therefore of all phenomena. This places God at the center of the universe as its sole creator. Additionally, the first principle of meaning instantly answers the existential queries: Does my life have a purpose? Does it matter? Absolutely. And yet I will never know or understand or even appreciate it.
The conditions of sacred life and sovereign individuality lead to proto-libertarian conclusions such as non-aggression, private property, self ownership, self defense. Considering public policy, inviolable individual sovereignty is intimately connected to inalienable rights which the state must not infringe, like those codified in the Amendments to the US Constitution as the Bill of Rights. Organize a state around these first principles to advance liberty and justice for all.
If conceded, should not the notion of God, creator of all, rightfully be called the true first principle? My claim is rather that the only possible source of meaning, which is all phenomena including the individual mind, can be divine will. When I accept that meaning is of whole cloth, I accept one obvious miracle: that all of this is God’s creation. This is all that is ever asked. Even the science of the Big Bang begs for one small but absurd miracle. The flawlessly logical path of reason to the acceptance of God’s universal sovereignty follows from my first principle of meaning.
I want to remark that I reject a popular presumption that is atheist notions are of a refined, superior sort of well-considered position based on science and in opposition to coarse, outdated delusional superstitions used in antiquity to explain weather and control women. I am unconvinced that our prehistoric ancestors thought of the supernatural at all. Atheism is the default position of all the dumb brutes in this world. The spirit and the divine, pantheons, and monotheism, now these are advanced concepts.
Since beginning of this blog I have mentioned God and other religious terminology and ideas numerous times. This entry may be the most I have written so far. And there is much more to discuss on matters of the divine, and my own testimonial. However I can’t allow this post to careen off its intended spindle. In my own personal pilgrim’s progress I have reached a renewed understanding of the practical value of faith, love, and forgiveness, and a recognition of my own sinful and fallen nature, and the revelation of my own salvation.