Imagine you were in the 18th century and had a flying dream. You wake up inspired and committed to really experiencing this in life. You want to fly! Now if we apply first principles to this inspiration we will need to ask:
Why do I want to fly?
1. Perhaps you enjoyed the thrill of flying, the adrenaline was exhilarating even if only in a dream. Imagine what it would be like in reality.
2. Maybe you liked the freedom associated with it, you were able to escape a pursuing dream monster, or you were able to get somewhere faster.
3. Or maybe there was something more spiritual about the journey of moving further up into the clouds and having a surreal experience.
Whichever the assumption is, it's important to note how the development of each first principle would look like. If we went with the first assumption, then we might end up representing the inspiration with an amusement park thrill ride. If we went with the second assumption then we could end up with something more like practical flight. If we went with the spiritual assumption then maybe we don't want to fly at all but would be better rewarded by investing energy into meditation and "floating the spirit" rather than actual physical flying. So we can already see how important it is to nail down the first principles. The first principle that will lead to the most meaningful outcomes will be the one you find yourself paying the most attention towards.
You might like all three reasons, but we need to get more specific at this stage rather than more broad. You will need to be critical and prioritize which first principles are the most relevant. Let's say you chose the second idea, and you enjoyed the freedom associated with flying in your dream. Now you would ask why do I enjoy the freedom of flying? One of the answers could be to get somewhere faster, and there we have a very basic form of flight. The first principle would be "using flight to get somewhere faster".
We would also need to ask if flight is indeed the most useful way for getting somewhere faster and if we preference the flying aspect or the getting somewhere faster aspect. If it turns out that the propositions are consistent with each other then it's a solid first principle, i.e. getting somewhere faster and flight are logically consistent. But if it were using flight to get more freedom, well we'd need to break down freedom into something which can be more universally interpreted.
The most important aspect of first principles is breaking down an inspiration into universal maxims or categories, properties and objects that are consistent throughout time. Freedom could have a very different meaning today as it did 500 years ago and as it would in 100 years. Whereas getting somewhere faster is a more universal concept which has the same meaning now as it would 500 years ago.
Alternatively if the idea is for something that benefits others, rather than yourself, i.e. a business idea or service, or a technology that could fix a problem then we would categorize the first principles by the customers preference (in the business context) or the functional preference in a technical context. We'd change the very first question from "why do i want to fly" to "why do people want to fly"; where understanding the sentiment of people is more important, or "why do objects want to fly"; where understanding the nature of life is the focus, i.e. why do birds fly? The answers for each way of framing the first question will all vary, and the questions need to be referenced to the goal at hand. You could even use a question to determine who is the inspiration for, i.e. "who wants to fly?".
What do we do with the first principles?
Try to construct a sentence that sums up the inspiration's first principles. This sentence will be used as the reference point for the rest of the idea development. It will also become the foundation of your vision, when applied with the next two stages.
If you need help finding inspiration, coming up with new ideas, breaking down inspiration into their first principles, or determining how to integrate and develop your inspirations, then don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to offer commitment free guidance and answer any questions you may have.
Or if you simply want to share your thoughts and get in touch we are more than happy to get in touch.
Our vision at Ideatry is to bring about a more meaningful future, by synthesizing materialism with idealism - so we are more than happy to share our ideal methods, without commitment, to co-create a better future.
1. FIRST CAUSE
Where attention goes, energy flows!
Pay attention! Inspiration can be found anywhere; the time you had that great inventive idea, the time you thought of a visionary application of an existing technology, a dream you had that inspired an elevated mood for the morning, or the time you observed something that had room for improvement. We have over 6000 thoughts a day, and many of these are potential inspirations for ideas.
The first stage is all about identifying an inspiration, and reducing the inspiration to its assumptions or first principles. A first principle or first cause is a basic proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption.
It all starts with an inspiration
An inspiration is a moment where you are stimulated to act, and the outcomes of inspirations can lead to modifications of properties of an existing idea; i.e. faster travel, it could be changing a function of an existing idea; i.e. cooling a chemical reaction instead of freezing, it could be found from problems arising in existing products; i.e. not enough user engagement on a website. Inspirations can be technical, commercial, artistic, political, etc there are no limits to the types of inspirations that can be applied using this model.
Where do we find inspiration?
One method is by making the most of the direction of our intuitive attention. As Jordan Peterson explored the concept of attention from his study of Jung; "The thing that grips your attention and directs it to one place or another is a manifestation of what Jung called the self. Jung thought that the mechanism that directed your attention in the present was your future self attempting to manifest itself in the present world."
Realizing what we pay attention towards is a powerful tool which, in the less reductionist theories of mind, has the capacity to transcend our day to day understanding of the world. Realizing what you tend to pay a lot of attention to is probably a sign that is an area of focus that will benefit you, according to a concept of a wiser version of your "future self". So pay attention to what you pay attention to, that is where you will find inspiration that will lead to personal growth and development.
Within a "living universe" model, the most impactful ideas, and the ideas that are easiest to work with are the ones that you intuitively pay the most attention to. This is not only a sign from a potential future self, but it is a sign that the idea itself could have some "desire" to interact with you; it's a signal that there is an opportunity to co-create with an idea for the betterment of yourself and the idea's existence.
We can increase the frequency of inspirations from recording any minor inspired thought as this conditions us to pay more attention to the world of inspirations. This could lead us further into the collective unconscious; where we may dream more often of ideas, or participate in a more active imagination. Recording these moments signals to yourself and the living universe that you want to have more of these inspirations.
We can use structured brainstorming and creativity enhancing frameworks to find inspiration, but a word of caution; we've found that ideas that are more "forced" tend to be more difficult to engage with as they don't come from a significant intuitive space. This might be necessary for cases where you need to find inspiration for a narrative, if you have writers block and need some forcing to push the issue, or have deadlines for coming up with ideas. The more structure that is applied in finding ideas, at least at this stage, the more difficult it will be for the idea to organically evolve with you. The more influential ideas are found where life is created; on the horizon between chaos and order. Forcing too much order via very structured sessions will give very ordered results; which depending on your project may or may not be the desired outcome.
You will find inspirations throughout the progression of your idea development, especially with the feedback from the final representation of the idea in the world once it has begun engaging with others. We also suggest checking out "the fool" and "the visionary" paths in the Sentient Idea Tree navigation panel for more suggestions on where to find inspiration.
What do we do with an inspiration?
Apply first principle, or first cause thinking. The cornerstone of Aristotelian thought and later Kantian ethics, first principle thinking requires us to break down a problem into its logical fundamental chunks. This means reducing an inspiration into its assumptions and basic truths. This requires a logical and critical mind to remove unnecessary baggage from the inspiration that doesn't affect the "nature" of the inspiration. This will help us better understand what our foundational assumptions are, so that we have a consistent reference point for the rest of the idea development stages, and we also have a reference point itself that can be critiqued and expanded upon based on how it engages with the world at later stages. The first principles will become the fixed reference point to which the rest of the idea will revolve around, but the principles should be dynamic and adaptable so that they can also evolve as new discoveries are made throughout the idea's development and implementation.
How do we get to the first principles?
Like a curious child; we persistently keep asking why until we can't get any further. We need to embrace our curiosity and explore every angle of the inspiration. After asking why, we will also start realizing some biases and assumptions that we didn't know we had; if you don't get to this point then you aren't getting far enough with the why. The further you get with this, the more creative the concepts and representations of the idea can be!
Relevant Tools: Brainstorming, user feedback, meditation, dreams, active imagination, observation & analysis, mindfulness, first principle thinking
Inputs: “Lightbulb” moments, idea inspirations, problem statements
Outputs: Idea inspiration outline & first principles, recorded inspirations
Archetypes in focus:
The Fool for finding a contrast
The Visionary for imagining an optimal trajectory
The Motivator for bringing the inspirational first causes into the concept