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Bryan Magee

From Academic Kids

Bryan Magee (born April 12, 1930) is a noted British broadcast personality and author best known as a popularizer of philosophy.

Born of working class parents in Hoxton and an evacuee during World War II, he was educated at Christ's Hospital school on a London County Council scholarship. He did National Service in the Army and served in the Army Intelligence Corps seeking possible spies among the refugees crossing the border between Yugoslavia and Austria. After demob he obtained a scholarship to Keble College, Oxford where he read History and Philosophy.

After a period at Yale University, he returned to Britain in 1958 with hopes of becoming a Labour Member of Parliament. In this he was unsuccessful, and instead took up a job presenting the ITV current affairs television programme This Week. He made documentary programmes about subjects of social concern such as prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion and homosexuality (illegal in Britain at the time).

He was eventually elected MP for Leyton in 1974, but found himself out of tune with the Labour Party's leftward tendencies under Michael Foot and was one of several Labour Members who joined the newly founded Social Democratic Party in 1981. He lost his seat in 1983 and returned to writing and broadcasting (which, indeed, he had continued during his parliamentary career).

Transcripts of his television series "Men of Ideas" are available in published form in the book Talking Philosophy. This book provides a readable and wide-ranging introduction to modern Anglo-American philosophy. Another series and book, The Great Philosophers, covers the history of Western philosophy, as does Magee's The Story of Thought (also published as The Story of Philosophy). Magee has also published Confessions of a Philosopher (1997), which essentially offers an introduction to philosophy in the form of an autobiography. This latter book was involved in a libel lawsuit as a result of Magee repeating the rumor that Ralph Schoenman, a controversial associate of Bertrand Russell during the great philosopher's final decade, had been planted by the CIA in an effort to discredit Russell. Schoenman successfully sued Magee for libel, with the result that the British edition of the book was pulped.

His autobiography, Clouds of Glory: A Hoxton Childhood, won the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography in 2004.

External link

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