The Gray Area with Sean Illing

The Gray Area with host Sean Illing is a philosophical take on culture, politics, and everything in between. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we do offer a space for real dialogue. Resist certainty, embrace ambiguity, and get some cool takes on a very hot world. Formerly the Vox Conversations podcast. New episodes drop every Monday.

News Commentary
The new(ish) world order
Journalist Alex Ward describes how foreign policy consensus is beginning to crack.
38 min
The free-market century is over
Sean Illing is joined by economist and author Brad DeLong, whose new book tells the economic history of mankind's most consequential era — and explains how and why it just ended
51 min
Music and mysticism
New Age music pioneer Laraaji on the mysticism of music and the sanctity of laughter.
43 min
The case for banning...millionaires?
Sean talks with political philosopher Ingrid Robeyns, whose new book Limitarianism makes the case for imposing limits on personal wealth.
50 min
The joy of uncertainty
Maggie Jackson, author of Uncertainty: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure, explains why the feeling of uncertainty is actually a pathway to better understanding and empathy.
45 min
A pro-worker work ethic
Political philosopher Elizabeth Anderson explains how “the biggest killjoys in European history” hijacked the way we think about work.
37 min
How psychedelics can reinvent learning
Guest host Sigal Samuels interviews neuroscientist Gul Dolen about her groundbreaking research, which points to a future where psychedelics might be the master key that unlocks conditions from strokes and autism to deafness and blindness… while helping us all to learn like little kids again.
33 min
Seeing ourselves through the darkness
A philosopher's new book on dark moods aims to help us escape the damage of our culture's most pervasive metaphor
52 min
Living Mindfully
Jon Kabat-Zinn has been a mindfulness pioneer since the 1970s. He joins us to reflect on its skyrocketing popularity.
37 min
Taking anarchism seriously
Philosopher Sophie Scott-Brown tells us why she is an anarchist
47 min
3,000 years of The Iliad
Emily Wilson on why the poem persists and what it teaches us about death
33 min
Late-stage liberalism
A discussion with political philosopher John Gray about his new book, The New Leviathans: Thoughts After Liberalism.
50 min
The case against free will
A discussion about whether or not free will exists and what it means for our society.
55 min
A Jew and a Muslim get honest about Israel and ...
How to think humanely about the Israel-Gaza horror.
56 min
How to keep panic from attacking
A discussion about panic and anxiety with Matt Gutman, the chief national correspondent for ABC News and the author of No Time to Panic: How I Curbed My Anxiety and Conquered a Lifetime of Panic Attacks.
46 min
We Are What We Watch
A conversation about how entertainment affects us mentally and physically, and why that’s okay.
53 min
Werner Herzog’s ecstatic truth
A conversation with Werner Herzog about the difference between facts and truth, and why he believes his writing will outlive his films.
53 min
The lessons of Sam Bankman-Fried
A discussion of why the world fell for a crypto billionaire.
52 min
Is America getting meaner?
A discussion with David Brooks about his essay, “How America Got Mean.”
51 min
Naomi Klein on her doppelganger (and yours)
What it’s like to journey into the “Mirror World.”
53 min
Should we press pause on AI?
A discussion about AI and the issue of control.
53 min
Democracy’s existential crisis
A case for connecting democracy and the human condition.
47 min
Conservative socialism?
A conservative makes the case for democratic socialism.
52 min
The benefits of utopian thinking
Why it’s not unreasonable to imagine a better future.
50 min
What Clarence Thomas really thinks
And why he's the most misunderstood Supreme Court justice, according to the author of The Enigma of Clarence Thomas.
60 min