Introduction The main topic of the article is the Western metaphilosophy of the last hundred years or so.
After Ayer philosophical essays inhe spent some time at the University of Vienna familiarizing himself with the logical positivist movement, then little known among English-speaking philosophers. He returned to Oxford in as a lecturer in philosophy at Christ Church and in became a research fellow of the college.
Army service in World War II kept him from philosophy untilwhen he went back to university teaching as fellow and dean of Wadham College, Oxford. In the following year he became Grote professor of the philosophy of mind and logic at University College, London, where he remained until his return to Oxford as Wykeham professor of logic in Ayer's first book, Language, Truth and Logic, was published in Its combination of lucidity, elegance, and vigor with an uncompromisingly revolutionary position has made it one of the most influential philosophical books of the century.
As Ayer explains in the preface, the views he advocates derive from Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein among modern philosophers and from the earlier empiricism of George Berkeley and David Hume and have much in common with the logical positivism of the Vienna circle.
But he accepts none of these influences uncritically and clearly puts his own stamp on the position he outlines. He adopts Hume's division of genuine statements into logical and empirical, together with a principle of verification that requires that an empirical statement shall not be counted as meaningful unless some observation is relevant to its truth or falsity.
This starting point has Ayer philosophical essays and far-reaching results. Metaphysical statements, since they purport to express neither logical truths nor empirical hypotheses, must accordingly be reckoned to be without meaning.
Theology is a special case of metaphysics; affirmations of divine existence are not even false, they are without sense. For the same reason, value statements in ethics or aesthetics fail to attain the status of genuine statements and are exposed as expressions of emotion with imperative overtones.
The a priori statements of logic and mathematics are empty of factual content and are true in virtue of the conventions that govern the use of the words that compose them. The tasks left for philosophy after this withdrawal from its traditional boundaries are those of solving by clarification the problems left untouched by the advance of the sciences.
Philosophy is an activity of analysis and is seen, in the end, to be identical with the logic of science. The second edition of the book contains an introduction that modifies, though it does not retract, the main theses of the first edition. Ayer's attention here is directed chiefly to giving a precise formulation of the principle of verification.
His original version is replaced by a much more elaborate and carefully worded formula. Both versions have, however, been shown to be faulty in admitting as meaningful metaphysical statements of precisely the kind that the principle is designed to outlaw. Indeed, there seems to be a weakness of the principle in that, it appears plausible only when its expression is left uncomfortably vague.
The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge is concerned with two groups of problems, those of perception and those of "the ego-centric predicament" privacy and publicity in language and in sense experience and the problem of other minds. The most interesting and original feature of the book is Ayer's treatment of the terminology of sense data as a language in which the problems of perception can be most appropriately dealt with rather than as a thesis embodying a discovery about the facts of sense experience.
Thinking and Meaning was Ayer's inaugural lecture in the University of London. It is a trenchant application of Ockham's razor to the problems of intentionality and the relations between minds, thinking objects, words, and meaning.
This short, powerful essay has so far received less than its due of critical attention. Philosophical Essays is a collection of papers ranging over philosophical logic, the theory of knowledge, and moral philosophy. Half the papers are carefully argued treatments of problems raised in Ayer's first two books; in particular, "The Analysis of Moral Judgements" is a moderate and persuasive restatement of the hints on ethics thrown out in Language, Truth and Logic.
In Ayer published The Problem of Knowledge, his most important book since his first was published in It is a sympathetic and constructive treatment of the various problems of philosophical skepticism.
After a short discussion of philosophical method and the nature of knowledge, he discusses at length the pattern of skeptical arguments. He then examines three problems familiar from his earlier work—perception, memory, and other minds—as instances of skepticism at work.
It may be that no statement is immune from doubt, but this does not entail that no statement can be known to be true. Where statements cannot, even in principle, be justified, we may conclude not that they are to be rejected but rather that no justification is called for.
The Concept of a Person is a collection of essays. The most striking, the one that gives the book its title, is a notable survey of some aspects of the problems of body, mind, and personal identity. The outcome can be roughly summarized as follows: To say that I own a mental state M is to say that there is a physical body B by which I am identified and that a state of B causes M.
Ayer's Shearman Lectures at the University of London in were on induction and probability.Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - Author: A.
Ayer. From A.
J Ayer, Philosophical Essays (London: Macmillan, ) FREEDOM AND NECESSITY WHEN I am said to have done something of my own free will it is implied that I could have acted otherwise; and it is only when it is believed that I could have acted.
Philosophical Essays () is a collection of papers ranging over philosophical logic, the theory of knowledge, and moral philosophy. Half the papers are carefully argued treatments of problems raised in Ayer's first two books; in particular, "The Analysis of Moral Judgements" is a moderate and persuasive restatement of the hints on ethics.
A. J. Ayer's essay Freedom and Necessity (published in his Philosophical Essays) made it clear what determinism or compatibilism requires, the ability to . Contemporary Metaphilosophy. What is philosophy? What is philosophy for?
How should philosophy be done? These are metaphilosophical questions, metaphilosophy being the study of the nature of philosophy. 1. a philosophical system developed by Auguste Comte, concerned with positive facts and phenomena, the flrst verifled by the methods of the empirical sciences, the second explainable by scientific laws.
Also called Comtism. 2. a contemporary philosophical movement stressing the task of philosophy as criticizing and analyzing science, and rejecting all transcendental metaphysics.