AIDAN LYON

philosopher
consultant
author
University of Amsterdam
Aidan Lyon

I'm a philosopher based in Amsterdam. I research psychedelics, meditation, and wisdom, and I help organisations and individuals improve their decision-making and innovation practices.

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Meditation x Critical Thinking

Learn how to improve the quality of your thinking using the practice of meditation combined with the principles of critical thinking.

ONLINE COURSE

Meditation x Critical Thinking

Learn how to improve the quality of your thinking using the practice of meditation combined with the principles of critical thinking.

Book cover

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2023

Psychedelic Experience: Revealing the Mind

Psychedelic Experience presents a philosophical analysis of the concept of a psychedelic experience. A central premise of the book is that such experiences can be had by means other than psychedelics. In particular, the book argues that psychedelic experiences can also be had as the result of meditation.

The book then presents a unified conceptual framework for thinking about the different kinds of psychedelic experiences one may have as a result of psychedelics, meditation, and their combination. This framework is then used to shed new light on various commonalities between psychedelics and meditation, such as the ability to promote long-lasting increases in mindfulness and their reputation for inducing mystical experiences.

Finally, the book uses these new philosophical resources to flip things around and shine the light back on philosophy itself, arguing that psychedelic experiences can be used as tools for doing philosophy. The result is a new approach to philosophy (or the revival of an ancient one), which integrates traditional analytic methods with a range of psychedelic techniques.

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Philosophy

I work on psychedelic philosophy, the foundations of uncertainty, and wisdom.

Design

I use design to help people think better, be more creative, and make better decisions.

Consulting

I help organizations with risk management, group decision making, and creativity.

Coaching

I help clients integrate psychedelic methods into their professional and personal lives.

Philosophy

I have two main areas of philosophical research that may seem quite different at first but actually overlap in some fascinating ways.

The first area concerns the foundations of uncertainty, collective wisdom, and decision-making. My research in this area has focused on eliciting, modeling, and aggregating opinions from experts in situations of extreme uncertainty. This work has also been scientific and practical in nature. I frequently work with scientists and engineers, and our methods are often deployed in real-world settings.

The second area concerns the philosophy of psychedelics, meditation, and related interventions on the brain/mind. In my book, Psychedelic Experience, I argue that psychedelic experiences are mind-revealing experiences and can be induced using methods that don't involve substances (such as meditation). While I use the tools of philosophy to study psychedelic experiences, I also argue that these experiences are valuable tools for doing philosophy. That is, they can help us cultivate wisdom.

Thus, we see one overlap between these two areas: by making us wiser, psychedelic experiences can help us become better decision-makers. The next stage of my research builds upon this core insight and focuses on applying these experiences in real-world settings.

Design

For as long as I can remember, I've had a passion for design. This goes beyond creating beautiful things and extends to designing systems that help people think and create.

I have 10+ years of experience in product design and web design. My focus tends to be on designing systems that help people manage uncertainty, brainstorm, analyse evidence, and make decisions. Over time, I've realised that the design aspect of these projects can be more important than the algorithms being implemented. One reason why is that a well-designed interface can profoundly impact a users' psychological state, bringing out a better version of themselves — one that is more open, creative, rational, etc.

I'm now working on projects that integrate design with philosophy, psychedelics, and meditation. I see these as four powerful tools for shaping human attention and improving human cognition. By combining and using these tools in the right way, I believe we can unlock a vast wealth of human potential that often goes unused.

If you're interested in working together, please send me an email.

Consulting

I've operated as a consultant — as an individual and for my company, DelphiCloud — for over ten years. I work on risk management and collective decision-making, especially in contexts of high stakes and high uncertainty. I often collaborate with data scientists, but I focus on situations in which we lack sufficient data and must rely on expert opinions.

My approach is often "full-stack" and covers all stages of the decision-making process — especially those that get skipped in haste. For example, I may help an organisation brainstorm risk threats, articulate pertinent questions, elicit expert opinions, deliberate about those opinions and the available evidence, aggregate the final opinions, and feed that output into an effective decision procedure. I then help the organisation reflect on the process, iterate, and implement a system they can routinely use themselves in the future. I also train staff in the art of forecasting and decision-making.

Many of the fundamental challenges that organisations face run much deeper than those they are actively working on. While these challenges are the most important, they are also the most difficult to solve. This is because they often lie outside of the organisation's awareness (and involve unknown unknowns), and so they must be approached using indirect methods. I help organisations do this by implementing practices that create a more philosophical culture and methods that promote insight and creativity (such as meditation).

Coaching

One of the key ideas of my book is that we can use psychedelic experiences to help us become more insightful and tolerant of uncertainty and better at decision making and creative problem-solving. What all these outcomes have in common is that they are improvements in wisdom.

Traditionally, wisdom has been the primary concern of philosophyphilo (the love of) + sophia (wisdom). In reality, though, wisdom matters to us all. This is because wisdom is about knowing how to live well, and that is something we all want to do. What makes philosophers different, however, is that our primary occupation is to study the methods for becoming wise and to then teach these methods to others.

Continuing with this tradition, I work as a psychedelic coach to help clients cultivate their wisdom using psychedelic methods. Together, we work at the philosophical level, implement meditative and contemplative practices, and analyze wisdom from ancient traditions alongside knowledge from modern science. I also help clients prepare for their experiences and integrate them into their lives afterward.

As a coach, I normally work with a small number of clients at a time. They come from various backgrounds, including students, designers, researchers, software developers, artists, startup founders, managers, public servants, etc. If you're interested in working together, send me an email.


Publications