Here's the video series:--


[I believe the copyright on this video series is expired, but please check if it is lawful to view the video in your jurisdiction before viewing.]

If there are issues regarding copyright, please let me know, and I will delete this question.

  • How credible is the video series?
  • Is Bryan Magee a respected author?
  • Are there are any serious errors in this?
  • Is this a good resource for someone starting off in philosophy?
  • Are the people interviewed in video respectable philosophers in their own right?

Here's the same content in book form:--

Magee, Bryan. The great philosophers: An introduction to western philosophy. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2000.

Other References:--

  • The title tells you all you need to know. "The great philosophers: An introduction to western philosophy." This tells you that the problems start with the choice of who to call 'great' and how to justify the use of this adjective within a discipline that hasn't made any progress in centuries. Mutter mutter... . .
    – user20253
    Apr 10, 2018 at 12:32
  • You are entitled to your opinion. Apr 10, 2018 at 12:38

1 Answer 1


The series retains a good deal of value. Magee always chose experts, recognised as such, to provide the expositions. The contributions are framed in question and answer form and this is a useful guide to philosophical discussion and argument as it might properly be conducted - clear, incisive, polite - but isn't always.

One advantage the series has, besides its general reliability, is that it is so angled as to be accessible to a wide readership. So it isn't set in the tangled prose of so much philosophical literature. The contributors want to communicate - not to impress or just to address other philosophers.

Naturally since the series goes back a fair time now, it is not state of the art. But at the introductory level at which it is set, I don't think this is a serious defect.

Magee is a competent but not distinguished philosopher - by which I mean merely that he is no Russell, Quine, Goodman, Davidson, Putnam or Kripke and would not claim to be. That's just about right for his interviewing role. He lets the experts talk, asks clear and relevant questions, and does not try to intrude his own views.

This is not to rule out the suggestions for reading above, very far from it. but you can take up these suggestions and watch Magee as well.

  • TY, that was exactly the answer I was looking for. Apr 10, 2018 at 16:01
  • I wouldn't underestimate Magee. He's definitely no Kant, but his superpower seems to be the ability to simplify ideas to a form where you can digest without any serious loss of information. Apr 12, 2018 at 22:15
  • I agree on Magee's ability to communicate very effectively without anything like undue simplication, Point taken. Best - GT.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Apr 12, 2018 at 23:35
  • Take care! TY for your input. :) Apr 13, 2018 at 10:53
  • "He lets the experts talk, asks clear and relevant questions, and does not try to intrude his own views." ~ Geoffrey Thomas (user) Bryan Magee is more focused on epistemology, metaphysics, and history of philosophy as opposed to formal logic. He also focuses on Schopenhauer, whom is not very focused upon in Philosophy in 2019. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Magee). I think he is an authority on Schopenhauer. Oct 24, 2019 at 14:57

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