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The last interview with Bryan Magee

A great public intellectual passed away last month. Magee spent his life wonderstruck by the sheer fact of existence, for questions about the nature of reality are “obviously the most important and interesting there are”

By John Maier  

Geoff A Howard / Alamy Stock Photo

When I met him, Bryan Magee was nearly 89, marvellously lucid, curious to hear about my time at Oxford, and paralysed from the waist down: in many ways the ideal interviewee. For a generation of young viewers, Magee’s legendary television series about philosophy were a baptism in the waters of the subject, and he the urbane and worldly gatekeeper to a realm of theoretic abstraction and grounded, vigorous discussion such as had never before been entered—a watershed moment in a primetime slot.

“I wouldn’t rely…

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