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Language, Truth and Logic (1936)

by A. J. Ayer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,735139,809 (3.37)20
Mr. Ayer sets up specific tests by which you can easily evaluate statements of ideas. You will also learn how to distinguish ideas that cannot be verified by experience--those expressing religious, moral, or aesthetic experience, those expounding theological or metaphysical doctrine, and those dealing with a priori truth. The basic thesis of this work is that philosophy should not squander its energies upon the unknowable, but should perform its proper function in criticism and analysis.… (more)
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English (11)  Catalan (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
12/3/21
  laplantelibrary | Dec 5, 2021 |
I read the "squashed" version of the book and I can agree that while it is not "wrong", the content of the book is incomplete. But mostly, it is very intriguing and thought-provoking and it's a good start for enquiring about language and it's relationship with philosophy. ( )
  JorgeCarvajal | Feb 13, 2015 |
"But it must be understood from the outset that we are not concerned to vindicate any one set of philosophers at the expense of any other, but simply to settle certain questions which have played a part in the history of philosophy out of all proportion to their difficulty or their importance." (134)

Language, Truth and Logic is a brief and charmingly audacious effort to retire metaphysics and its related issues. Ayer is a mid-20th-century exponent of the Anglo-American analytical tradition in philosophy (including the work of Bertrand Russell and others) which seeks to reduce the discipline to applications of logic. His arguments are sympathetic to the earlier empiricists and positivists, but show more sophistication in pointing out and sometimes surmounting their shortfalls. I am most in accord with his "emotive theory of values" as a method of dispensing with the philosophical concern over ethics.

Ayers' professed opposition to "schools" in philosophical discourse reminds me of the ultra-Protestant Plymouth Brethren "coming out of sect" in 19th-century England: they paradoxically insist on a narrowing of their field while claiming to transcend distinctions within it.

The 1946 introduction to the second edition consists of Ayers reconsidering and fine-tuning many of the details in the body of the text. Accordingly, I saved it to read until finishing the original eight chapters. In retrospect, however, because of the intricacies of the arguments, a reader would be better advised to read the 1946 remarks in sequence after each individual chapter.

Although mystics (and magicians, to a lesser degree) are unlikely to find this book easy or pleasant, it would be an invaluable supplement to their intellectual diets. After passing through this crucible, they might proceed to the more congenial offerings of a thinker like Gregory Bateson.
4 vote paradoxosalpha | Feb 26, 2012 |
I know this is a seminal text but I'm finding it a tough read. The writing style is dense, reflecting its origin in the 1930's. It's a challenging book, posing the question of how we judge what truth is. Do we work purely from empirical observation, only accepting propositions that can be logically proven? Or is truth something else, wider, deeper? Perhaps truth value or meaning can be found outside or apart from language, and does not only reside within it? This book proposed that metaphysical and religious language was meaningless, as it could not be empirically verified. Ayer himself, later in life, acknowledged that his verification theory, proposed within this book, is false. However, it had great influence when it first came out which ensures its place on reading lists and bibliographies to this day. ( )
1 vote JuliaF | Jun 15, 2009 |
Ayer is a very very under-rated philosopher, some people find logical positivism a little silly but personally i love it, basically the intellagent way of saying 'prove it' or 'why' to everything, and no one does it better than Ayer. ( )
  rincewind1986 | May 24, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ayer, A. J.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blasco, Josep-LluísTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The traditional disputes of philosophers are, for the most part, as unwarranted as they are unfruitful.
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Mr. Ayer sets up specific tests by which you can easily evaluate statements of ideas. You will also learn how to distinguish ideas that cannot be verified by experience--those expressing religious, moral, or aesthetic experience, those expounding theological or metaphysical doctrine, and those dealing with a priori truth. The basic thesis of this work is that philosophy should not squander its energies upon the unknowable, but should perform its proper function in criticism and analysis.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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