Bryan Magee  

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"Watching the programmes today (all can be found on YouTube) the plummy accents, the brown furniture sets and the beige suits are only the most obvious ways in which they are incredibly dated. AJ Ayer puffing away on a cigarette is perhaps the standout period feature. More significantly, each series featured only one woman, Iris Murdoch in the first and Martha Nussbaum in the second. This barely even merits as tokenism: Murdoch, it seems, was considered an honorary man, given the series title." --Prospect Magazine, Julian Baggini, July 29, 2019


"The world is governed by false values. People in all societies seem anxious to do what they think is the done thing, and are terrified of social disapproval. They set their hearts on getting on in the world, being thought highly of by their fellows, being powerful, acquiring money and possessions, knowing 'important' people. They admire the influential, the rich, the famous, the well-born, the holders of rank and position. But none of these things have any serious relationship to merit: as often as not they are ill gotten, and nearly always they are partly dependent on chance. None of them will protect a person from serious illness or personal tragedy, let alone from death. And none of them can be taken out of this world. They are not an inherent part of the person himself but are merely decorations, hung on him. They are the tinsel of life, glittering but worthless. The things that really matter in human beings are things that can matter more than life itself: love and being loved, devotion to truth, integrity, courage, compassion, and other qualities along entirely different lines. But human beings are all the time sacrificing these true values to the false ones: they compromise themselves to get on, bend the truth to make money, demean themselves before power. In behaving like this they are pouring rubbish over their own heads. If they stopped abasing themselves in this way and started living in according with true values their lives would become incomparably more meaningful, more genuinely satisfying. They would even, to put it at its most superficial, be happier." --Bryan Magee, "Confessions of a Philosopher".


"One of the most extraordinary things about a human being is that we just wake up in the world and find ourselves here, though what 'here' is is something we never discover. Existence is something that happens to us, and then remains a mystery. There is no question of our having any say in it: a light comes on in a new centre of consiousness and it is another one of us.

We find ourselves not awareness only, but bodies also, and perhaps other things besides - whatever we are, it is certainly complex. And we inherit a going concern. We know nothing about any of it until after it is well under way, by which time we are already a particular person, born a while back to two other persons embedded in particular circumstances; and everything that has happened to us since then constitutes what is already a life; and already we are partially-formed personalities. Everything about the situation is specific in the highest degree, a fate, a destiny, already in full swing when it is imposed on us, so that we ourselves are a fait accompli with which we are presented."--Bryan Magee, Clouds of Glory.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Bryan Edgar Magee (12 April 1930 – 26 July 2019) was a British philosopher, broadcaster, politician and author best known for bringing philosophy to a popular audience in programs such as Men of Ideas (1978) and The Great Philosophers (1987).

In Men of Ideas, Magee presented 15 dialogues with noted philosophers for BBC Television. Following an "Introduction to Philosophy", presented by Magee in discussion with Isaiah Berlin, Magee discussed topics like Marxist philosophy, the Frankfurt School, the ideas of Chomsky and modern Existentialism in subsequent episodes. Transcripts of the dialogues within the Men of Ideas series are available in published form in the book, Talking Philosophy.

Another BBC television series, The Great Philosophers, followed in 1987. In this series, Magee discussed the major historical figures of Western philosophy with fifteen contemporary philosophers. The series covered the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes, among others, ending with a discussion with John Searle on the philosophy of Wittgenstein. Transcripts of The Great Philosophers are available in published form in a book of the same name. The Story of Thought (also published as The Story of Philosophy) also covers the history of Western philosophy.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bryan Magee" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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