On Thursday 8th November, Wotton’s Society hosted Professor Ray Monk, who came to deliver a talk titled “The mystery of music: what does music mean?”
Having published an award-winning biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Professor Monk based a large portion of his lecture on the philosopher, and started it off by giving the boys in attendance a brief overview of Wittgenstein’s life, mentioning some of his greatest works including “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.”
He then moved on to discuss the various interpretations of music starting with one that states how music has no meaning, because according to Wittgenstein, who reflected Schopenhauer’s view at the time, only things that can be pictured have meaning. Professor Monk then moved on and identified how Wittgenstein completely changed his views on the matter because of Frank Ramsey’s influence on him during his time in Cambridge. To conclude the lecture, Professor Monk gave some of his own arguments with regards to music, particularly how it cannot be confined to writing and that it is therefore futile to argue that it is meaningless simply because it cannot be pictured.