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
What do we owe animals?
Philosopher and author Martha Nussbaum talks with Vox's Sigal Samuel about how humans should treat other animals, and why we haven't gotten it right
43 min
Best of: America's philosophy, with Cornel West
Sean Illing talks with Dr. Cornel West about the roots of American pragmatism, and what it means to be a blues man of the life of the mind
56 min
Best of: The necessity — and danger — of free s...
Free speech is essential for democracy. It may also be democracy's downfall.
50 min
The church of celebrity
Vox's Alissa Wilkinson talks with author Katelyn Beaty about how fame, celebrity, and influence make Christianity popular — while threatening its values
55 min
Men and boys are struggling. Should we care?
Sean Illing talks with Brookings fellow Richard V. Reeves about why men and boys all over the industrialized world are struggling — and what we should do about it
52 min
The power of attention in a world of distraction
Sean Illing talks with L.M. Sacasas, whose writing on technology and society highlights how much we've been changed by the digital revolution — and reminds us: we're still in control
43 min
A veteran reporter on how to fix the news
Sean Illing talks with James Fallows, former White House speechwriter and longtime reporter & editor, on what's wrong with the political press in America — and how to fix it
50 min
The end of social media
Sean Illing talks with technology writer and philosopher Ian Bogost about the state of social media — and what Elon's Twitter takeover has revealed
49 min
If society is making us sick, how can we heal?
Sean Illing talks with Dr. Gabor Maté, who argues that Western culture is making us sick, and the Western paradigm of health has gotten some very important things wrong
52 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
Your identity is a story you tell yourself
Sean Illing talks with neuroscientist and author Gregory Berns, whose new book argues that the idea of a unified "self" is just a delusion
39 min
James Carville unpacks the midterms
Sean Illing is joined by political strategist James Carville to process the surprising outcomes in the midterm elections, and assess the state of both parties in the aftermath
43 min
Why are billionaires prepping for the apocalypse?
Sean Illing talks with Douglas Rushkoff about the apocalyptic mindset of Silicon Valley tech billionaires, and why the ultra-wealthy are preparing for the end times
49 min
Today's Republicans were made in the 1990s
Sean Ililing talks with author Nicole Hemmer, who shows how the GOP became what it is today
60 min
Yuval Noah Harari thinks humans are unstoppable
Sean is joined by Yuval Noah Harari, whose bestselling books take a zoomed-out view of the history of human beings — and a glimpse at what our future might hold
56 min
Dying with dignity
Sean Illing talks with journalist Katie Engelhart about the morality and legality of physician-assisted dying — asking what a death with dignity really looks like
54 min
Finding hope in a world on the brink
Sean talks with philosopher and psychoanalyst Jonathan Lear about how to keep flourishing as human beings in a world that feels like it's falling apart all around us
53 min
The new American Reconstruction
Sean Illing talks with author and historian Peniel Joseph about whether we're living in a new era of reconstruction, and the two warring ideas shaping American history
61 min
Is America losing its religion?
Sean is joined by religious scholar and bestselling author Reza Aslan to discuss the state of religion in America today
48 min
How we got to January 6th
Sean talks with reporter Luke Mogelson, who was amongst the rioters as they broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, about how it happened, what led up to it, and what comes next
53 min
Neil deGrasse Tyson gets political
America's personal astrophysicist takes on our most vexing societal problems. But can science really make political struggles disappear?
53 min
Introducing The Gray Area
Embrace uncertainty
1 min
Best of: Why America's obsession with rights is...
54 min
A GOP insider on why the party went Trump
56 min
How do we fix the harm we cause?
45 min