Stephen Fry on Philosophy and Unbelief

Come­di­an Stephen Fry has the clas­sic British intel­lec­tu­al voice, much like philoso­pher Bryan McGee. It turns out that he knows some­thing about phi­los­o­phy, and this clip is a short­ened ver­sion of a longer video called “The Impor­tance of Unbe­lief.”

A more gen­tle ver­sion of George Car­lin, Fry’s views appear heart­felt while par­tak­ing of seri­ous irony. He claims that in order to prop­er­ly appre­ci­ate our present lives, “even if it isn’t true, you must absolute­ly assume that there is no after­life.” Choos­ing his posi­tions to argue as much for their rhetor­i­cal audac­i­ty as any­thing else, he argues for poly­the­ism in favor of monothe­ism, and he treats the issue of the divine pres­ence in nature by ref­er­enc­ing the life cycle of a par­a­sitic worm. He seems an apt voice to add to the new athe­ist debates, at least as amus­ing as Dawkins and much more­so than Sam Har­ris. This clip is added to our col­lec­tion of 250 Cul­tur­al Icons.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Had Known When I Was 18

Stephen Fry Gets Ani­mat­ed about Lan­guage

Mark Lin­sen­may­er runs the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life phi­los­o­phy pod­cast and blog. He also per­forms with the Madi­son, WI band New Peo­ple.

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Comments (4)
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  • tim says:

    This from some­one who has admit­ted to have serv­er man­ic depres­sion.. hmmm…

  • Jeff_r says:

    Yeah — the idea that to have a full, hap­py life you must not believe in an after­life is not only false on its face, but it belies the fact that it has­nt worked for Fry — but belief in an after­life *has* worked for lit­er­al­ly bil­lions of humans. Fol­low the data, not the pro­pa­gan­da…

  • Hailey says:

    I don’t under­stand the log­ic here from either of you. Are you say­ing that if he believed in the After­life that he would­n’t have man­ic depres­sion? You’re con­fus­ing things here. He is a quite hap­py man.

  • rashid bacha says:

    It is fool­ish to assume that there is no afterlife.If there is no what will be then.

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