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His videos discuss political issues through a leftist perspective informed by philosophy, using the Socratic method and, since 2018, theatricality. Philosophy Tube has been met with positive critical reception and, as of October 2019, has 521,000 subscribers and 28.8 million views.
Olly Thorn started his career writing articles for publications such as HuffPo under his birth name, Oliver Lennard. He created Philosophy Tube in 2013 with the intention of sharing his philosophy degree on YouTube for free, after the Cameron government tripled university tuition fees. He originally intended to record his college lectures, but ultimately decided to use a standard "talking head" format with Thorn speaking directly to the camera about philosophy (duh), philosophers, political philosophy, political theory, overanalyses of popular culture, and ethics, and also discussing interesting comments from past videos.
After the world lost its sanity and a stupid orange-skinned fascist con man ran for president of the United States and won, Philosophy Tube became more focused on socio-political issues and social justice, with longer, more in-depth video essays. In 2018, Thorn abandoned the old format and adopted a more theatrical style akin to ContraPoints, utilising studio sets, comedic/dramatic sketches, costumes, makeup, artificial lighting, and music by Nina Richards.
He has criticised reactionary topics and personalities such as Brexit, Steve Bannon, Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro, often by tying them to another topic (democracy, abortion, etc). He also discusses gender and sexuality from a feminist perspective.
As a survivor of an abusive relationship, Thorn's content also deals with mental health issues like trauma and depression. He has been open about his struggle with suicide and self harm, represented by his "Cosmonaut" character, and credits the UK mental health charity Samaritans for saving his life.
On August 2019, inspired by his friend Hbomberguy's Mermaids stream (which featured Thorn), he hosted a five day charity stream where he read the complete works of William Shakespeare for the Samaritans, with special guests such as ContraPoints, Jim Sterling, Mara Wilson, Kyle Kallgren, Dan Olson (Foldable Human), Maggie Mae Fish and SonicFox, among others, voicing characters from the plays. The stream helped raise around $130,000 (£109,44), about 26 times more than what Thorn expected.
- Philosophy Tube on YouTube
- Philosophy Tube Live, his secondary channel
- Philosophy Tube on Twitter
- Philosophy Tube on Facebook
- /r/PhilosophyTube on Reddit
- "Let Philosophy Tube Restore Your Faith in Humanity", Regeneration Magazine
- Queer✨| Philosophy Tube YouTube. October 28, 2019.
- Olly Lennard on Huffington Post UK
- "Giving away a philosophy degree online", BBC
- "Why We Need Philosophy"
- "Meaning of Life!"
- "Do We Have Free Will?"
- "How to Pass Philosophy Exams"
- "Cartesian Dualism"
- "The Republic: Internationally Friendly Version"
- "Is Democracy a Human Right?"
- Should the Government Be Secular?
- Including a four-part series on Marx: part I, part II, part III, part IV
- "Is Rick and Morty an Argument Against Scientism?"
- "Pokémon Philosophy: Is Mewtwo MARXIST?"
- "Are YouTube Poops Art?"
- "Is it Wrong to Watch Pornography?"
- "Is it Ever Okay to Lie?"
- "Should You Save the Planet?"
- "Brexit: What Is Democracy?"
- "Steve Bannon"
- "Jordan Peterson & The Meaning of Life"
- "Abortion & Ben Shapiro"
- "Transphobia: An Analysis"
- "Witchcraft, Gender & Marxism"
- "Sex Work"
- "Why Do I Hate My Self?"
- "Men. Abuse. Trauma."
- "Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth"
- "Reading Shakespeare's Complete Works for Charity"
- Part 1 of the stream on Twitch