Bryan Magee (RIP) Presents In-Depth, Uncut TV Conversations With Famous Philosophers

Note: We woke this morn­ing to the news that Bryan Magee, aca­d­e­m­ic and pop­u­lar­iz­er of phi­los­o­phy, has passed away. He was 89. Below, we bring you a post from our archive that high­lights Magee’s many tele­vised inter­views with influ­en­tial philoso­phers. You can watch them online.

Bryan Magee comes from a tra­di­tion that pro­duced some of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry’s most impres­sive media per­son­al­i­ties: that of the schol­ar­ship-edu­cat­ed, Oxbridge-refined, intel­lec­tu­al­ly omniv­o­rous, occa­sion­al­ly office-hold­ing, radio- and tele­vi­sion-savvy man of let­ters. Stu­dents and pro­fes­sors of phi­los­o­phy prob­a­bly know him from his large print oeu­vre, which includes vol­umes on Pop­per and Schopen­hauer as well as sev­er­al guides to west­ern phi­los­o­phy and the auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal Con­fes­sions of a Philoso­pher. He also wrote anoth­er mem­oir called The Tele­vi­sion Inter­view­er, and philo­soph­i­cal­ly inclined lay­men may fond­ly remem­ber him as just that. When Magee played to both these strengths at once, he came up with two philo­soph­i­cal tele­vi­sion shows in the span of a decade: Men of Ideas, which began in 1978, and The Great Philoso­phers, which ran in 1987. Both series brought BBC view­ers in-depth, uncut con­ver­sa­tions with many of the day’s most famous philoso­phers.

You can watch select inter­views of Men of Ideas and The Great Philoso­phers on YouTube, includ­ing:

At the top of the post, you’ll find Magee talk­ing with A.J. Ayer, a well-known spe­cial­ist in “log­i­cal pos­i­tivism,” about the devel­op­ment of, and chal­lenges to, that philo­soph­i­cal sub-field. Two philoso­phers, relaxed on a couch, some­times smok­ing, enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly engaged in a com­mer­cial-free back-and-forth about the most impor­tant thinkers and thoughts in the field — watch some­thing like that, and you can’t pos­si­bly think of now as a gold­en age of tele­vi­sion.

Oodles of free phi­los­o­phy cours­es, many thought by famous philoso­phers, can be found in the Phi­los­o­phy sec­tion of our list of 1,300 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

105 Ani­mat­ed Phi­los­o­phy Videos from Wire­less Phi­los­o­phy: A Project Spon­sored by Yale, MIT, Duke & More

44 Essen­tial Movies for the Stu­dent of Phi­los­o­phy

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