The Great Philosophers

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The Great Philosophers is a 1987 BBC television series presented by Bryan Magee. There were 15 episodes, in each of which Magee interviewed a noted philosopher.


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. Extensively revised versions of the dialogues of The Great Philosophers are available in a book of the same name.[1] DVDs of, and streaming rights to, the series are sold to academic institutions[2] and episodes are available to stream to those with access to the Alexander Street academic database.[3] Neither this series, nor Magee's 1978 series Men of Ideas, are commercially available to home users but most of the episodes from both are freely available on YouTube.[4] The theme played over the opening credits comes from the third movement of Symphony No. 8 (Shostakovich).


  1. Myles Burnyeat on Plato
  2. Martha Nussbaum on Aristotle
  3. Anthony Kenny on Medieval Philosophy
  4. Bernard Williams on Descartes
  5. Anthony Quinton on Spinoza and Leibniz
  6. Michael R. Ayers on Locke and Berkeley
  7. John Passmore on Hume
  8. Geoffrey Warnock on Kant
  9. Peter Singer on Hegel and Marx
  10. Frederick Copleston on Schopenhauer
  11. J. P. Stern on Nietzsche
  12. Hubert Dreyfus on Husserl, Heidegger and Modern Existentialism
  13. Sidney Morgenbesser on The American Pragmatists
  14. A. J. Ayer on Frege, Russell and Modern Logic
  15. John Searle on Wittgenstein

See also[edit]

  • Men of Ideas, a similar BBC television series presented by Magee in 1978


  1. ^ Magee, Bryan. (2001). Talking philosophy : dialogues with fifteen leading philosophers. Magee, Bryan. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192854178. OCLC 47676350.
  2. ^ "Great Philosophers". Films Media Group. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Great Philosophers, Episode 1, Bryan Magee talks to Myles Burnyeat about Plato | Alexander Street, a ProQuest Company". Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Bryan Magee (RIP) Presents In-Depth, Uncut TV Conversations With Famous Philosophers". Open Culture. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.

External links[edit]