A framework for First Principles Thinking

Improve your thinking, become smarter and pioneer the future

Neil Kakkar
10 min readFeb 10, 2019


Read the original post on neilkakkar.com

“Elon Musk used first principles thinking to design a cheap rocket from scratch, re-use it by landing it back on Earth, and on the side — also revolutionised the electric car industry.”

That was the first time I read about First Principles and it made me cry. Cry at my incompetence. But with an inkling of joy — I’d found another missing piece of the puzzle.

That was over a year ago. I was a kid with a messed up thinking process — I hadn’t thought about thinking. It just happened. Most of the time, it still just happens. I don’t think about how I’m thinking. It’s hard.

However, things had moved from the unknown unknown to the known unknown. I had a name for the process — reasoning by analogy versus reasoning by first principles.

Thus began my journey to put this missing piece back in the puzzle.

What puzzle though? The puzzle to becoming great. The puzzle to thinking well. Not to launch my own rockets, or to make my own lemonade when life gives me lemons, but to figure out how to make electricity with the same lemons.

Talking about rockets and Musk is amazing. It elicits this amazing emotional response, that power, on being able to see what Elon does. A human did all this. ( Big fan, by the way, Elon ).

That’s not how Elon began though. Thus that is not how we shall begin.

Let’s start small. Figure out those lemons, before getting to the rockets. I think this is something every post ever about first principles missed.

Practicing with a chess grandmaster when you don’t even know the rules of chess can be expensive for you — and irritating for the grandmaster.

What do you know to be the truth?

Why is it the truth?

How does something become true?

What separates opinion from truth?

These are questions we will be tackling.

A first principle is a basic, foundational, self-evident proposition or assumption that cannot…



Neil Kakkar

I write about Code and Life philosophies. Sometimes both. | https://neilkakkar.com | Engineer @PostHog | Write (Code). Create. Recurse.