Ayer’s Place in the History of Philosophy
This chapter examines A. J. Ayer's place in the history of philosophy. Ayer thought of himself as the main representative in his own time of the British empirical tradition, running from Hume through John Stuart Mill to Russell. It is a natural and intelligible point of view. His interpretation of the leading ideas of that tradition, in the sharpened form given to them by the Vienna Circle, undoubtedly gave it a new lease of life. In the first post-war decades, philosophy in Britain was dominated by Wittgenstein and Austin, one a genius, the other enormously gifted, but both execrable examples in many ways. Confronted by dire imitations of their respective styles of writing and reasoning Ayer stood out as a marvellous champion of the best traditions of rational discourse.
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