The Illuminati

Michael Ignatieff presents five programmes recounting the ups and downs of key groups in 20th-century intellectual history.


01The Vienna Circle19970630"

When Professor Moritz Schlick falls under the spell of Wittgenstein's `Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus', he persuades the enigmatic philosopher to join the circle. But differences in outlook become apparent as the genius turns his back on the group and recites the poems of Rabindranath Tagore. Worse is to come, with allegations of plagiarism and a fatal shooting."

02The Frankfurt School19970701After fleeing Hitler's Germany in the 1930s, Marxist philosophers Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer seek unlikely refuge in wartime Hollywood.

Back in Germany after the war, and initially feted by the radical Frankfurt campus, Adorno is horrified to find his lecture disrupted by bare-breasted female demonstrators.

03The Chicago School19970702Returning to Chicago University's economics department after the Second World War, Milton Friedman outmanoeuvres the intellectual opposition, paving the way for the free-market frenzy of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
04The Yale School19970703As post-structuralism migrates to America in the 1970s, Yale University becomes the centre of deconstruction, with a dazzling cast of literary scholars. But intellectual differences surface, along with skeletons in the cupboard.
05 LASTThe Santa Fe Institute19970704In picturesque Santa Fe, a multidisciplinary team of scientists is trying to understand the nature of complex, adaptive systems like the stock market and traffic jams. They claim this is the science of the 21st century. Others disagree.