The importance of fundamentals
The degree of validity of the fundamental premises of any system of thought and action is crucial in determining whether or not anyone using (or being used by) that system will be effective in obtaining the desired and intended results of those actions which are guided by such a system.
False fundamentals will point us in the wrong directions
In the 19th century the primary premise of the cause of disease was the miasma theory. This belief (taken as a fact during that period) held that most, if not all, disease was caused by inhaling air that was infected through exposure to corrupting matter. Today, we can see that this idea might account for a minority of some infectious diseases. Yet this fundamental idea was taken as fact by the vast majority of physicians and intellectuals of that era. Consequently, it took the renegade John Snow to test and demonstrate that the epidemics of cholera in London during that century were not caused by "night air" (as miasma was called), but by polluted water. Even with his rigorous demonstration of this fact, the acceptance of his discovery and the death of the miasma theory did not occur until well after his death (in 1858) and even persisted into the beginnings of the 20th century.
Establish clearly your fundamentals and make sure they are really facts
Most of us are either not aware of or do not posit the fundamental ideas that constitute the system of thought and action (often called ethics) that we live our life by (whether developed consciously or by default). Therefore, we often end up being guided by a set of dysfunctional interlocking ideas, resulting in much unnecessary suffering, conflicts within ourselves as well as conflicts with others. Being clear about our fundamentals and their validity is essential for living a life that we love.
Below are some fundamentals that I base all my thinking on.
I say these are fundamentals are facts and generally factual principles. In cases where there might be definitional ambiguity, I provide a definition (as in the case of the word "happiness"). Also, I also indicate an contextual exceptions that may exist for a fact or a principle.
1) All human behavior is positive in intention, either by moving towards happiness/pleasure/eudaimonia or away from unhappiness/pain/suffering. The extent to which the results match the intentions is another issue. And whether the intention is focused on long-term or short-term or both can vary. Often we cannot see the positive intention or benefit of many behaviors, being acutely aware of the costs. For example, when couples shout at each other, you may wonder what benefits they intend or get. Yet, if you look closely, they are each attempting to feel power by expressing their righteousness, trying to defend or protect themselves. Shouting can also provide a sense of immediate release.
--fear not bad guy
--process first, results second
--mutually supportive selfishness
--suffering is from beliefs
--I and machinery
--factbeliefs and fatebeliefs
--judging cf assessing
---to be continued