RIP Alan Saunders

One of my favorite podcasts is The Philosopher’s Zone, a weekly half-hour program from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Today I learned that the host, Alan Saunders, died earlier this month.

Mr. Saunders (seen here with a dingo named Wollemi that he co-sponsored at a conservation sanctuary) did an amazing job with the show, making deep philosophical concepts available to ordinary people in language that was comprehensible but never simplistic. He spoke in a rich baritone about philosophical figures and movements, interrupting his guests only when necessary to provide context and background. He asked intriguing follow-up questions and dropped little pieces of humor where appropriate (and leaving out the inane puns so common to “intellectual” broadcasting in the US).

Perhaps my favorite thing about Mr. Saunders is how committed he was to exploring the vast diversity of ways in which philosophy exists in our world, and all the ways different people set out to explore its core questions. Most guests were academics, but he also brought on primary school teachers, government workers, and folks from other walks of life. He did shows about Islamic philosophy, philosophical currents in sub-saharan Africa, and various forms of Asian philosophy (all of which, fascinating and rich though they are, usually get short shrift in popular philosophy media).

The news of Mr. Saunders’ passing saddens me, in part because it was so sudden, and in part because I feel like I got to know him. After all, I spent a half-hour with him in deep conversation every week. I suppose it’s fair to say that I thought of him as a teacher, helping me as he did to understand and interrogate the world around me.

Thank you for your work, Mr. Saunders. You will be missed.

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