Signe Gjessing, Ray Monk and Max Richter on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, published in English for the first time a century ago thanks to the efforts of his tutor at Cambridge Bertrand Russell, set out to solve all of the problems of philosophy in less than 100 pages, through a hierarchically numbered series of logical statements, or propositions. He didn’t succeed, exactly – indeed, Wittgenstein himself was one of the book’s harshest critics – but that didn’t stop it becoming widely recognised as the most important work of philosophy of the 20th century. And its influence has extended into other artistic and intellectual fields too, from literature to cinema and music, and beyond.

Ray Monk, biographer of Wittgenstein and Russell and professor of analytic philosophy, was joined by Signe Gjessing, whose Tractatus Philosophico-Poeticus, a dazzling poetic reimagining, was published earlier this year, and the celebrated composer, musician and interdisciplinary pioneer Max Richter, for a conversation about the power of the Tractatus and the unparalleled breadth of its influence. The conversation was chaired by Sam Kinchin-Smith, Head of Special Projects at the LRB.