The Principle of the “Principle”

Yackandandah, Victoria, a township existing on the principle of co-operation

Life in the old gold mining  town of Yackandandah, Victoria,  is continuing  on the principle of co-operation

It is good to have principles,

but to insist on one’s principles,

at all times, is akin to fundamentalism

and should be avoided.

To have principles and act upon them is often seen as a positive attitude. We say often about others, “He is a man of principle and he will not violate his principles.”

For sure, this applies especially of good behaviour and is recognised as a good rule of personal conduct to have.

We complain often enough about the conduct of politicians and journalists and accusing them of not having any principles. Oh, they have their principles, but not the ones we expect them to have.

It is possible, that some people have the principle not to have any, bar the one, not to have any.

So, we are actually talking about “good” principles. We live on this earth and try our best to live in harmony with our fellow human beings. Principles will help but what if “our” principles clash with the principles of the others?


Aleppo, Syria, a city where the principle is, “I’m right and you are wrong”.

If we insist on our principles and the others insist on theirs,  there could  be trouble in the form of a bad argument or even  conflict. Perhaps there should be another principle that encourages us to talk things over. There must be some overarching principles, like human rights.

 Insisting on principles could be a form of fundamentalism. Perhaps the guiding principle should be the principle of approximation.

Approximation” is a term well-known in science and mathematics but could also be applied to human behaviour.

Face-saving” and compromising could fall under the principle of approximation.

Perhaps, next time you have an argument based on one of your  principles you might consider, that you are seen as a fundamentalist or just plain bloody-minded. 


6 thoughts on “The Principle of the “Principle”

  1. Peter, I’m reluctant to call “I’m right and you are wrong” a principle. Otherwise, we would be giving two-year-olds more reasoning power than they deserve. I suspect that in the case of Syria, there are a host of intrinsic reasons and deep-set feelings that have contributed to the current crisis. But, intimidation has worked wonders throughout history. Perhaps, looming threats by powerful countries will bring this terrible conflict to an end.

  2. Thank you for commenting, Robert. “I’m right and you are wrong” might not be “the principle” but it is the outcome of adhering to a chosen principle.

    A “principle” is accepted as true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning or conduct.

    Of course, the Syrian conflict has many contributing reasons. President Assad’s principle is, that he is the leader (never mind how that came about) and he can make decisions for the whole population. All the other protagonists in that conflict don’t agree for different reasons. Their principle is, that they have to resist a tyrant.

    • I’m not hiding. I’m busy reducing clutter in our home. Plus, we are painting. My daughter and her partner want to move in with us. I wish our beloved Earth would turn slower and give us more Hours in the day. At my age, and I regard myself fairly fit, there only so much one can accomplish. I’ll be back.

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