Bertrand Russell & Other Big Thinkers in BBC Lecture Series (Free)

Back in 1948, Britain was mak­ing anoth­er dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion, mov­ing from the trau­ma of World War II to the chill of the Cold War. Hop­ing to give radio lis­ten­ers some clar­i­ty on con­tem­po­rary affairs, the BBC began air­ing an annu­al series of lec­tures — the Rei­th Lec­tures — that fea­tured lead­ing thinkers of the day. 60 years lat­er, the tra­di­tion con­tin­ues, and dur­ing this long stretch, some leg­endary fig­ures have graced the BBC’s air­waves: Michael Sandel, Edward Said, John Sear­le, John Ken­neth Gal­braith, George Ken­nan, and Robert Oppen­heimer, just to name a few. (And, yes, the list unfor­tu­nate­ly skews heav­i­ly male.)

Late last month, the BBC put the com­plete audio archive online, which gives you access to 240 lec­tures in total. Where’s the best place to start? How about at the begin­ning, with the inau­gur­al lec­tures pre­sent­ed by philoso­pher Bertrand Rus­sell in 1948. His lec­ture series, Author­i­ty and the Indi­vid­ual, delved into an age old ques­tion in polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy — the indi­vid­ual and his/her rela­tion­ship with com­mu­ni­ties and states. The head of the BBC lat­er groused that Rus­sell spoke “too quick­ly and had a bad voice.” But the real com­plaints came from the Sovi­ets, who inter­pret­ed Rus­sel­l’s lec­tures as an attack on Com­mu­nism. You can find the lec­tures here; the first lec­ture appears at the bot­tom of the page.

Note: Our Twit­ter friends around the world said that they could almost uni­ver­sal­ly access the lec­tures. If you expe­ri­ence any geo-restrict­ing, we apol­o­gize in advance.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bertrand Rus­sell Sends a Mes­sage to the Future

Bertrand Rus­sell on God

Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

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Comments (10)
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  • Nitin says:

    Hey, you guys are doing a tru­ly great job here.. I come from a pret­ty mediocre back­ground, and to have access to these is a priv­i­lege and an hon­our. Thanks guys, and keep this going!

  • Give me books over all good looks,give me cooks,not kitchen spooks! Great job keep work­ing.….

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  • James P Kennedy says:

    If I did­n’t have the GI Bill I would live on this site. I have the Gi Bill and I live on this site. The Army was wast­ed on me.

  • victoria says:

    Thanks you Mr. Dan Col­man for putting these free every­thing up online. This is a site that I will use again and again. This is an amaz­ing source for infor­ma­tion. Thanks again !!!!

  • Don Swsenson says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this site. I live among acres of corn and beans; access to books, works of art, etc. is dif­fi­cult here. You are a win­dow to the most enlight­en­ing and inter­est­ing pro­duc­tions of the human spir­it. Mer­ci !

  • Dr. Sushila Ramaswamy says:

    I am look­ing for a copy­right free pho­to­graph of Mary Woll­stonecraft for my book on Women and polit­i­cal thought. Kind­ly treat it as urgent and respond imme­di­ate­ly. Tx

  • leslie tall says:

    (And, yes, the list unfor­tu­nate­ly skews heav­i­ly male.)

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, real­ly? What was the pur­pose of this state­ment? Per­haps they should apol­o­gize?

  • Noel says:

    “The list is unfor­tu­nate­ly ” skewed” toward males.”

    Should we be more con­cerned here with
    Avon ladies and house­wives?
    IAmer­i­can men are so pathet­ic.

  • Kevin Hayden says:

    Strange, can’t access any of these lec­tures here in Ore­gon, USA. It says it’s not avail­able in my area.

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