Introducing a Fundamental Conversation
Outside a Mill Valley winery with Dylan and Truth Ingham
I’ve been playing with this new format of on-the-spot audio recordings to capture fundamental conversations. You can listen to my last one with Robin Hanson, although it was more unidirectional, and so I called in an interview byte.
A fundamental conversation is an exchange of central importance to its participants, that produces a base or a core off of which to develop future ideas.
It would also be accurate to call one of these exchanges an intersubjective experience.
I’m going to keep doing these with known and unknown characters. Most, like this one, will probably be no more than 15 minutes. I will continue to share both the audio, which will be questionable at best across dynamic environments, and an edited down transcript. Consume in whatever medium you like. The latter will tend to be more straightforward and the former will contain sidebars and easter eggs that I omit from the transcripts.
The below is a conversation between 3 young men trying to find a way of living.
I met Dylan Ingham at GRC’s Systems Aging Conference in May 2022. We stayed somewhat in touch, exchanging ideas and papers in the months that followed.
We joked when we recently saw each other again in-person that we both rubbed each other the wrong way during our first impressions. I wondered, ‘What is this business development guy doing here at this academic conference?’ He wondered, ‘Who is this guy to be talking about how others here are looking at this problem the wrong way?’
Over the conversations that followed, I’ve grown to have a significant amount of respect for Dylan. He is curious in a genuine way, and really considers the ideas he is fed as opposed to taking them as face value.
I would describe him as someone who would not easily fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect, because he remains humble to what he does not know as he’s navigating an unknown space.
In the below recording I talk to not only Dylan, who actually only joins about halfway into the conversation, but primarily his cousin, Truth.
Truth is a seminarian-turned-entrepreneur who wants to bring deeper ideas to the longevity space. Dylan would describe him as ‘a magical mix of thoughtful, adventurous, and optimistic.’
Truth is also a student of philosophy. This would usually be a red flag to me because I believe most philosophy being taught today does not teach students how to do philosophy, but rather is a sort of “idea history” based curriculum.
I enjoyed talking with Truth a great deal because it quickly became clear he was not indoctrinated into this limited scope of thinking, i.e., only thinking as far as others’ ideas would get him.
Both these gentlemen have great paths ahead of them. I hope you enjoy this snippet of our conversations. There were many more like this, and I hope many more to come.
Truth(T): It's like a three hour podcast and he's got the views and the amount of interest that he does. You know what I mean?
BA: No, I don't. Say more about that.
T: You don't? You don't know Rogan?
BA: I know Joe Rogan. But you're saying that it's interesting that he's able to garner so much attention.
T: He can have a three hour podcast, right? I'm interested in seeing how long people actually watch it before they drop out. He can keep a conversation going for three hours or more with some people and it's completely natural; that ability to meet somebody, and a platform that facilitates that, that free discussion with other people. He's very good at being genuine, and he cuts right to it, so he gets to know the person. And also the profession, but first he's interested in them as a person, what got them to be where they're at today, and what was fascinating.
BA: Are there any social settings in your life you cultivate that enable you to have similar really long form discussions with peers to think through ideas? What's the place where you do that? Or the closest thing to it?
T: I guess it's just with my friends, mostly. I have a pretty close circle of friends. The friends I do have, I really try to invest in them and help them deeply and so it's mostly in times where I'm with them that I can really open up and that atmosphere is created with free communication, and then also deep communication, to explore higher values and things.
BA: In what ways that are not financial do you invest in your friends?
T: I would say rarely do I invest in them financially, because I'm not financially set myself. I would if I had the money, sure. For the most part, I try to provide value that could actually help their lives; moral value and then also to help them with their various anxieties, or stresses or things like this, and try to help them focus that more. Obviously, I'm no guru, but I can certainly share things that have helped me and they can do the same for me. For the most part, it's that. It's not money based, but if I have some spare change, for sure, I'll give it.
BA: How do you judge what moral lesson to teach to your friends through a story of your own experience? How do you know what's the right story to tell that would be right to their context? What signals do you get from them venting to you and trusting you as a friend that enable you to jump off with those stories?
T: It's usually shared experiences. If they're talking to me about something, and I can connect with them because I've had that experience before, I share that similarity that I have, and then also tell them things that have helped me to overcome that experience. That's when it's the most helpful. It's when I can relate to them the most that I've had this experience before. You're your own person, I'm my own person, but the objective thing we're talking about, I've had that experience, and here's things that have helped me take it.
BA: And what if you can't relate to them but then they still want your insight or you still feel compelled to give insight?
T: Then I would just dig further, so that I can find something that I can actually relate to them. Usually I have a I have a pretty easy time relating to people with their emotions. You've probably heard about empathy and things like this and that some people are more empathetic and others have a harder time reading the room so to speak, and connecting with people or kickin’ it with people on that level. So I think I tend towards being more empathetic.
BA: What other peers of yours do you know who share the same capability that you have? Describe their characteristics as an outsider looking in.
T: My family is the closest. My family is pretty big. I have seven brothers and sisters.
BA: You have seven brothers and sisters? I've heard of you and your cousin Justice.
T: My brother is Justice. Justice, he's the eldest brother and then Christian is under him. He's in the seminary and then there's me and then Harmony is the eldest girl. Honor is the youngest boy, then Serenity, Felicity and Caeli.
BA: Wow. Felicity strikes me as the name that breaks from the pattern the most, say more about the meaning of the name Felicity.
T: Felicity, it means happiness.
BA: Really? I did not know that.
T: It's Latin. Caeli is Latin for heaven and then Serenity is to be serene. Harmony means harmonizing, things like this.
*Dylan(D) enters the conversation*
BA: Dylan, pull up a chair, your cousin Truth, and I have a recording going. We're talking about empathy, delivering moral value to peers whenever they're going through times, and venting these sorts of issues to their friends. We're talking about these subjects outside of a beautiful winery outside of San Francisco, after the Longevity Summit at the Buck Institute of Aging. It's been a great day, and now we're here with some good friends. Introduce yourself, Dylan.
D: I'm a young man in search of the true, the good, and the beautiful. Through whatever that is. I'm trying to find a way of living. It's a very abstract concept. It's not a goal necessarily. There are goals but at a more fundamental level, the reason you go after those goals is because those goals can provide you with a way of living that's in alignment with the natural order. These are the actions you take that are resonant across multiple levels, where your biochemistry is aligned with your morals, which is aligned with how you feel about it, which is aligned with the outcome of it.
BA: Are you familiar with the the difference between axioms and theorems?
T: Explain it.
BA: So what you were just describing, to me, sounds an awful lot like determining what your axioms are as an individual. In a formal framework, you've got your axioms, which are your core principles, your most base levels of thinking about how to formulate making sense out of the world. Then, you take that original set of axioms, and you start filling in the space between them. This is developing your theorems, which are like the principles that stack on top of your axioms.
T: It's coming back to me. That's basically I remember, yeah,
BA: We're talking with someone who studied philosophy, say more man.
T: There was a whole part of the class just devoted to that; listing the axioms, the principles of life and then what follows from that. In the seminary, we studied St. Thomas and his philosophy. We had to take that first because it's considered to be the tool belt to understand theology. You start with the natural, and then from that natural base of the world, the cosmos; understanding that, then you can understand supernatural because, it couldn't be the other way around. You can't understand something invisible that we cannot perceive with our senses unless it's through analogy to things that we can perceive. The idea is that by understanding nature, you can understand by analogy, supernatural mysteries, which we cannot see; supernatural things which are not observable by our senses, but which are fitting and build on top of the natural. They say that the supernatural is built on the natural. Grace is built on nature.
BA: Grace is built on nature. Say more about that.
T: Grace in the Catholic understanding is the participation in the life of God to a limited degree, because we're creatures. God is infinite, we're finite. The idea is that we, through baptism, can receive that image of God into our souls and then the whole Christian life is about perfecting that image so that we become more like Christ or resemble more of the divine image. This is always in a limited degree, because we're finite creatures, but we can achieve a true image, a true reflection, within our own capacity.
D: What's wild about that is we're using very physical terms like, "Conform yourself to his image." Image does not mean image. People will conform themselves to God, to Jesus and act physically different in many ways. It's not like they manifest the same exact actions. It seems like it's at a higher level, a level of being in touch with yourself at every moment. Sort of like—what'd you say—you were talking about how intuition is the process through which the future becomes the present in the right way or something like that. There's all this information out there, but you have to choose something to pay attention to.
End of recording.
Dylan and Truth gave me permission to share their contact info. If something these gents said resonated to a degree that you’d like to get in touch with them, you can contact Dylan here, and Truth here.
If you listen to the audio, you will catch a few more easter eggs and interruptions I omitted from the transcript. What followed the recording was an exchange between Dylan and I that covered many of the ideas that I aggregated into my last post, Anxiety and the Secher Nbiw.
Keep good company.
Send me signal on Urbit: ~padlyn-sogrum