A First-Principles-Driven Life
06 Feb 2023

About Me


Hi, I'm Miao, an active advocate of liberty, free thinker, open-source software enthusiast, avid golfer, and native Chinese living in Estonia.

Having formal computer science education, I worked professionally in Skype/Microsoft/Twilio as a software engineer. In 2020, I co-founded Superfluid Finance, where I am currently spearheading the semantic money vision for modern payment systems.

I used to write frequently in Chinese technical blogs (ChinaUnix, CSDN.NET) under the nickname "hellwolf," which I am still using. However, almost two decades have passed, and I have re-kindled my interest in writing, focusing on the idea of first-principles-driven approach to life.

If more people take first principles seriously, we can untangle many of the messes we face in our world. With the new mission in mind, I will use this space to host all my old and new writings.

Comments in the posts are open, and you may also get in touch with me via zhicheng \(\cdot\) miao \(\alpha\tau\) gmail \(\cdot\) com or LinkedIn.

About First Principles

First of all, what is a first principle? It is a basic proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption. It comes from first-clause attitudes taught by Aristotelians.

First principles manifest themselves in various domains, and sometimes conflicting sets can exist in the same domain. To make sense of these conflicts, one must understand the nature of their differences using various thinking patterns that are suitable for specific domains:

  • Through faith, reserved for metaphysics - the starting point of order from chaos.
  • Through reason, judging right or wrong by applying logic - separating mankind from animals.
  • Through heuristics, making pragmatic choices - balancing yin and yang.
  • Through aesthetics, treating the matter as a mere taste issue - a "gorgeous mosaic" of human diversity.

Applying faith & reason to everything is bound to a life of clarity & stagnation, while a life based purely on heuristics & aesthetics is destined for serendipity & chaos.

Each individual should be the sole arbiter of their choices of first principles, within the limits of respecting other individuals doing the same.

My First Principles

Here are the first principles I remind myself about and the exemplary persons I admire. It is a list I intend to revisit and update often.


This is reserved for the thinking pattern of faith.


  • I am culturally non-religious.
  • I am firmly against any form of materialism, including dialectical materialism.
  • I am deeply suspicious of superdeterminism (e.g., advocated by Sabine Hossenfelder).
  • I believe there are things reserved for the spiritual domain of each individual.

Intelligent Design (ID)

I am unsatisfied with the materialistic view of human origin. For that, Stephen C. Meyer has influenced me dearly in staying curious about our origin and thinking about the purpose of life.


Beyond faith, "reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses." (Ayn Rand, "The Objectivist Ethics")

The tools available in the toolbox of this faculty are:

  • Mathematics and logic.
  • Scientific method.
  • Praxeology (Misesian).

Misesian Praxeology

As a person against materialism, I recognize the duality between material and mind. Therefore, the study of the mind should have its distinct, methodology, instead of the empirical scientific method.

Praxeology is the distinctive methodology of the Austrian School. The term was first applied to the Austrian method by Ludwig von Mises, who was not only the major architect and elaborator of this methodology but also the economist who most fully and successfully applied it to the construction of economic theory. While the praxeological method is, to say the least, out of fashion in contemporary economics as well as in social science generally and in the philosophy of science, it was the basic method of the earlier Austrian School and also of a considerable segment of the older classical school, in particular of J.B. Say and Nassau W. Senior.

(Murray Rothbard, Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics)


Ethical principles should be reasoned about. Two Aristotelian frameworks interest me the most:

Rothbardian/Hoppean Propertarianism

Randian Objectivism Ethics

Ayn Rand Institute provides excellent materials for this topic.


Laws can be seen as the social implementations of the ethical principles with which the social members consent. I am not a lawyer, but there are some particular topics that I am interested in as intellectual curiosity.

Rothbardian/Kinsellian Title-transfer theory of contract (TTToC)


Against Intellectual Property

Read the essay and follow Kinsella's blog.

Computer Scientists & Software Engineering




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A First-Principles-Driven Life by Miao, ZhiCheng is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.