Bryan Magee

Why we need a biography of philosopher Bryan Magee

When I was a philosophy student at King’s College London in my early twenties, I came across a book called Confessions of a Philosopher by Bryan Magee. A history of western philosophy told through the story of the author’s relationship with it, it opens with a three- or four-year old Magee trying to catch himself falling asleep every night. Try as he might, he can never experience himself crossing the threshold from wakefulness into unconsciousness, a conundrum that keeps him in a state of ‘active mystification’. Magee spent the rest of his life like this, wrestling with the mysteries inherent in everyday experience. Far from being a fusty academic discipline