The Gray Area with Sean Illing

The Gray Area with Sean Illing takes a philosophy-minded look at culture, technology, politics, and the world of ideas. Each week, we invite a guest to explore a question or topic that matters. From the the state of democracy, to the struggle with depression and anxiety, to the nature of identity in the digital age, each episode looks for nuance and honesty in the most important conversations of our time. New episodes drop every Monday.

News Commentary
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
The new crisis of masculinity
How to redefine what it means to be a man.
58 min
How we all became a brand
A brief history of how self-invention became personal branding.
49 min
The therapeutic potential of MDMA
How did MDMA go from club drug to breakthrough therapy?
44 min
Is the journey to self-discovery pointless?
What does it mean to know ourselves, and are modern methods like personality tests helping?
49 min
Parenting through the climate crisis
If we owe our children a safe and healthy future, what are parents supposed to do about our rapidly warming world?
43 min
Seeing ourselves through 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
Best of: A new philosophy of love
55 min
The future of tribalism
An evolutionary anthropologist's new book aims to explore mankind's tribal past — and foresee our tribal future
49 min
When you can't separate art from artist
How to reckon with consuming the art of someone who’s done something terrible.
49 min
The case for not killing yourself
Clancy Martin's new book is a portrait of the suicidal mind — his own
54 min
What comes after Black Lives Matter?
Three summers after the death of George Floyd, what is the future of the racial justice movement in America?
54 min
Clickbait’s destructive legacy
How the media’s pursuit of traffic dented democracy.
49 min