Bryan Magee (1930-2019)

Bryan Magee, one of the most successful popularizers of philosophy in recent times, has died.

Magee interviewed philosophers for BBC Radio in the early 1970s on his program Modern British Philosophy (with some of the interviews published in this volume), his 1978 BBC television series Men of Ideas (videos available here) , and his 1987 series The Great Philosophers (videos here; interviews published here), and wrote many books introducing philosophy and philosophers to a wide audience.

Among the interviewees on his shows were Peter Strawson, Karl Popper, Bernard Williams, Gilbert Ryle, Alasdair MacIntyre, Isaiah Berlin, A.J. Ayer, Iris Murdoch, Hilary Putnam, W.V.O. Quine, Herbert Marcuse, Noam Chomsky, Martha Nussbaum, Sidney Morgenbesser, Hubert Dreyfus, Peter Singer, and many others.

He had been an undergraduate in philosophy at Oxford and spent a year at Yale before embarking on a career in broadcasting (notably for the news program This Week) and politics—from 1974-1983 he was an MP.

profile of Magee last year conveys that he was still deeply and personally gripped by philosophy: “What are we doing here? What’s going on? I feel the weight of these huge questions. And I know I can’t get the answers to them, and I find that oppressive.”

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