Bryan Magee’s Interview Series

Bryan Magee

Bryan Magee

This month’s featured website is Bryan Magee’s series of video discussions with great philosophers on great philosophers:

They might seem a little dated to modern viewers. But the great thing about history of philosophy is that it dates well: the things that these philosophers say are as likely to be true now as they were then. And what they say is fascinating.

Professor Myles Burnyeat

Professor Myles Burnyeat

You can listen to Professor Myles Burnyeat, one of the greatest scholars of the ancient world, taking about Plato. Or Professor Bernard Williams, talking about Descartes. (William’s book on Descartes (Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry) is still, I reckon one of the best books on Descartes ever written.

Or you can listen to Willard van Orman Quine, or Hilary Putnam, talking about their own ideas. These will one day be complete gems (if they are not already gems!)

Willard van Orman Quine

Willard van Orman Quine

In each case Bryan Magee’s questions are searching and apt. Bryan is still very much an active member of the Oxford community, he can occasionally be seen in the audience of OUDCE weekend schools, and I have occasionally found myself sitting next to him at High Table! He still writes books and his 2010 book A Story of Philosophy expertly takes readers through 2500 years of Western philosophy.


About Marianne

Marianne is Director of Studies in Philosophy at Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education
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22 Responses to Bryan Magee’s Interview Series

  1. Sven says:

    Hi Marianne,

    there’s more on the original YouTube channel they came from:

    Also you can use to download and convert them to mp3 (I like to listen to these as podcasts).

    cheers from Germany,

  2. Kris says:

    Hello,… Just to say how marvellous this serie is. This could be a new format for your future podcasts, couldn’t it? For a broadcaster who puts “Top Gear” on, this IS very much an achievement!
    Just passing over to the Quine-series now, there are much more good things to come, I suppose. I couldn’t choose one of them to be impressed by the most. John Searle and H. Putnam leaving me with the best explanatorial capacities and I certainly won’t underestimate the host itself. Many thanks for sharing! Kris

  3. Wade Dong says:

    Hi Marianne,
    I was impressed very much by Bryan Magee’s lecture interviews on youtube. I was wondering if I can write to him directly by you letting me know his email address?

    my email:

    Best Regards,

    Wade Dong

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Wade,

      why don’t you email me using the contact form? Then I will bounce your email onto him.


      • Ted Dixon says:

        Marianne 5 Sept 2016

        I have written a letter of appreciation to Bryan Magee.and have been searching the internet to see how I could get it to him. Would you be willing to forward it if I emailed it you ? Thanks

        Ted Dixon

      • Marianne says:

        Dear Ted, I am afraid that people are always getting in touch with me to do this. Bryan uses only snail mail.You can get in touch with him via the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford. Good luck.

      • Ted Dixon says:

        Thanks Marianne

        The Faculty put me onto the Princeton Press and the very helpful person I spoke there said write to BM’s agent. Please let me know if you would like it for future ref.
        Best wishes

      • Marianne says:

        Hi Ted, No, I should just like people to know that I can’t do anything! I do wish Bryan would use email!

  4. Dear Marianne, I have a signed drawing of Bryan Magee holding forth – being interviewed at Cheltenham in 2000. The interviewer also signed it but I can’t read that signature. I want to post it. Can I send you a copy?, maybe you can help? Thanks.
    Heather Spears

  5. is there a way to send an image?

  6. Don Langford says:

    Dear Marriane,
    I remember well watching Byan Magee’s lecture series as a teenager 50 years ago and it was after rereading his Confessions of a Philosopher (the one book I often reread at times) I came across his saying that he took 3 years out to master Kant’s Critic of Pure Reason.As a result of that I decided three years ago to take 10 years out in retirement to master Philosophy!I am now collecting a good philosophical library(the Amazon button is too easy to use)
    ,have been downloading some great iTunes philosophical lectures from Universities across the world and am now on my third Oxford online philosophy courses… and will be starting your Critical reasoning course tomorrow!
    Yours sincerely,
    Don Langford(Hereford)

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Don, What a lovely story! Inspiring, as is Bryan Magee’s story.I am honoured that you are doing my Critical Reasoning course. Do let me know how you get on. Marianne

  7. Saeed says:

    In case anyone wants to listen to mp3 versions of these, they can be found here (I converted the youtube versions)

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