What projects or languages exist that build a language up from "first principles"?
What language doesn't try to be based on "first principles"? It depends on where you start building from. My language Egel can be thought of as being derived from "first principles" since it is based entirely on untyped eager combinatorial rewriting. But Lisp is also derived from first principles as a list processing language, and so is C, a language based around some abstract Von Neumann machine.