A.j. Ayer Quotes

Sir Alfred Jules "Freddie" Ayer (/??r/; 29 October 1910 – 27 June 1989), usually cited as A. J. Ayer, was a British philosopher known for his promotion of logical positivism, particularly in his books Language, Truth, and Logic (1936) and The Problem of Knowledge (1956)

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A.j. Ayer


I do not believe in God. It seems to me that theists of all kinds have very largely failed to make their concept of a deity intelligible; and to the extent that they have made it intelligible, they have given us no reason to think that anything answers to it.

A.j. Ayer


Theism is so confused and the sentences in which "God" appears so incoherent and so incapable of verifiability or falsifiability that to speak of belief or unbelief, faith or unfaith, is logically impossible.

A.j. Ayer


No morality can be founded on authority, even if the authority were divine.

A.j. Ayer


...His argument, as set out in The Problems of Philosophy, was based on the empirical fact that we are not only aware of things but are also, very frequently, aware of being aware of them.

A.j. Ayer


The principles of logic and mathematics are true universally simply because we never allow them to be anything else. And the reason for this is that we cannot abandon them without contradicting ourselves, without sinning against the rules which govern the use of language, and so making our utterances self-stultifying. In other words, the truths of logic and mathematics are analytic propositions or tautologies.

A.j. Ayer


It seems that I have spent my entire life trying to make life more rational and that it was all wasted effort.

A.j. Ayer


No moral system can rest solely on authority.

A.j. Ayer


It appears, then, that ethics, as a branch of knowledge, is nothing more than a department of psychologyand sociology.

A.j. Ayer


Bertrand Russell would not have wished to be called a saint of any description; but he was a great and good man.

A.j. Ayer


If the assertion that there is a god is nonsensical, then the atheist's assertion that there is no god is equally nonsensical, since it is only a significant proposition that can be significantly contradicted.

A.j. Ayer


If one takes full account of the persecution of heretics, the frequency and savagery of the religious wars which Christianity had endangered, the harm caused, especially to children, by the pernicious doctrine of original sin, a case could be made for saying that the world would have been better off without Christianity.

A.j. Ayer


It is now generally admitted, at any rate by philosophers, that the existence of a being having the attributes which define the god of any non-animistic religion cannot be demonstratively proved... [A]ll utterances about the nature of God are nonsensical."

A.j. Ayer


If 'god' is a metaphysical term, then it cannot be even probable that a god exists. For to say that 'God exists' is to make a metaphysical utterance which cannot be either true or false. And by the same criterion, no sentence which purports to describe the nature of a transcendent god can possess any literal significance.

A.j. Ayer


But if science may be said to be blind without philosophy, it is true also that philosophy is virtually empty without science.

A.j. Ayer


We say that a sentence is factually significant to any given person, if, and only if, he knows how to verify the proposition which it purports to express.

A.j. Ayer