I still go back to Magee’s programmes from time to time. It is quite extraordinary that with many a genuine expert by his side, he quite often rearticulated an argument better than his expert guests — the mark of a fine and honest expository mind, devoid of the activistic fuckwittery that has come to tarnish the would-be public philosophy intellectual, trying to buy status on the cheap. Jason Cowley offers a welcome update about Bryan’s activities and state of being. Thanks so much Jason and H/T to Piers Benn for this.
I read philosophy at university in the late 1980s and my understanding of the subject was transformed through watching Magee’s BBC Two series The Great Philosophers (1987) and then reading the subsequent book adapted from it. He is unsurpassed in the postwar period in Britain as a populariser of philosophy, and I learned more from the 15 episodes of that series as well as the book than from any lecture or seminar I attended. It achieved, as the philosopher and biographer Ray Monk has written, the near-impossible feat of presenting to a mass audience the recondite issues of philosophy without the loss either of accessibility or intellectual integrity.