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 and Thursday.

Philosophy
Politics
News Commentary
1
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
2
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
3
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
4
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
5
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
6
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
7
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
8
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
9
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
10
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
11
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
12
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
13
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
14
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
15
Introducing The Gray Area
Embrace uncertainty
1 min
16
Best of: Why America's obsession with rights is...
54 min
17
A GOP insider on why the party went Trump
56 min
18
How do we fix the harm we cause?
45 min
19
A new philosophy of love
55 min
20
The politics of 'Yellowstone'
25 min
21
How society sexualizes us
51 min
22
The Parent Trap
How society is failing parents and children
55 min
23
40 Acres: Reaching reconciliation
28 min
24
40 Acres: The old Jim Crow
43 min
25
40 Acres: $14 trillion and no mules
44 min
26
40 Acres: The original promise
49 min
27
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
59 min
28
Even Better: Don't call it a budget
45 min
29
The quest for authenticity
Better living through the existentialism of Simone de Beauvoir
46 min
30
Even Better: Setting your boundaries
43 min
31
Your gut instinct is usually wrong
A data scientist on how to make decisions
49 min
32
Even Better: Workplace equality 2.0
51 min
33
Why we're still postmodern (whatever that means)
53 min
34
Even Better: Activism when you don't know where...
47 min
35
The Supreme Court's power grab
60 min
36
How middlemen took over the economy
60 min
37
The necessity — and danger — of free speech
Free speech is essential for democracy. It may also be democracy's downfall.
50 min
38
Hacking coral sex to save the reefs
49 min
39
The price of keeping secrets
47 min
40
Does China control Hollywood?
58 min
41
Steve Bannon is still at war
45 min
42
The Fortress of Solitude saw it all coming
Constance Grady talks with author Jonathan Lethem about his prescient 2003 novel
34 min
43
The Philosophers: Stoic revival
59 min
44
Station Eleven's creator on the end of the world
Showrunner Patrick Somerville on why hope is necessary for survival
47 min
45
The racist origins of fat phobia
49 min
46
The fight for Ukraine — and democracy
49 min
47
The war on trans people
49 min
48
Michael Ian Black on being a better man
50 min
49
Carmen Maria Machado's haunted feminine
36 min
50
The rise and fall of America's monuments
45 min
51
The Philosophers: America's philosophy, with Co...
55 min
52
Why accidents aren't accidental
47 min
53
Rethinking the "end of history"
56 min
54
Anita Hill finally gets even
55 min
55
Elites have captured identity politics
52 min
56
The moral dangers of dirty work
54 min
57
Did the sexual revolution go wrong?
53 min
58
Who decides how to conserve nature?
55 min
59
The Philosophers: Loneliness and totalitarianism
58 min
60
The War in Ukraine, Explained — Part 4: The fut...
59 min
61
Michael Lewis on why Americans distrust experts
52 min
62
The War in Ukraine, Explained — Part 3: The nuc...
51 min
63
The case for regret
45 min
64
The War in Ukraine, Explained — Part 2: Sanctions
56 min
65
The spirituality of parenting
43 min
66
The War in Ukraine, Explained — Part 1: Why did...
55 min
67
The Philosophers: Resisting despair
How can Albert Camus help us understand the war in Ukraine, post-pandemic life, and the absurdity of our modern world?
51 min
68
What happened to American conservatism?
55 min
69
The limits of forgiveness
46 min
70
The madness behind The Method
62 min
71
David Cross is disappointed in you guys
44 min
72
Author Kiley Reid on why we read novels
42 min
73
The conversation about guns we're not having
59 min
74
Why does middle school suck?
60 min
75
Russia's war with Ukraine — and reality
33 min
76
Robert Glasper on why Black Radio is back
The 4-time Grammy winner is creating a new genre of music
51 min
77
Could we lose delicious foods forever?
60 min
78
What Don't Look Up is really about
The film's co-writer doesn't think it was smug.
56 min
79
Democracy in crisis, part 2: The two-party problem
53 min
80
Why we can't pay attention anymore
59 min
81
Democracy in crisis, part 1: Ross Douthat isn't...
First in a two-part series on the dangers facing American democracy, hosted by Zack Beauchamp
60 min
82
Pod Save the Democrats
55 min
83
A Yellowjackets creator spills his guts
39 min
84
A scientist's case for "woo-woo"
55 min
85
Imagine a future with no police
59 min
86
Novelist Lauren Groff on the other Matrix
42 min
87
Are we living in a simulation?
Philosopher David Chalmers on the question: what is reality, anyway?
63 min
88
Rep. Jamie Raskin on living through the unthink...
52 min
89
Best of: Why fascism in America isn't going away
44 min
90
Best of: Clint Smith III on confronting the leg...
56 min
91
Best of: We need to talk about UFOs. Seriously.
Professor Alex Wendt tells Sean Illing why he thinks the aliens might already be here
57 min
92
Chris Bosh on winning (and losing everything)
53 min
93
The cult of toughness
61 min
94
Is ethical investing a scam?
52 min
95
The good life is painful
49 min
96
The father of environmental justice
45 min
97
Jill Lepore on Elon Musk's imaginary world
57 min
98
E.O. Wilson's plan to save the world
51 min
99
Workers of the world, stay home!
57 min
100
How progressives get back in the game
57 min