Philosophy in the Twentieth Century V655 by A.J. Ayer

By A.J. Ayer

"One of the main influential philosophers of this century, founding father of the varsity of logical positivism, offers his personal view of the foremost advancements in philosophy over the last eighty years."

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There is also the point that analysing the use o f words can be a way of revealing the nature of what the words designate. For instance, if we can specify the conditions under which the sentence form \r remembers y' is satisfied, we have answered the question what memory is. (8) For my own part, I think that if one were looking for a single phrase to capture the stage to which philosophy has progressed, ‘the study of evidence’ would be a better choice than ‘the study of language’ . The study of evidence includes the study of language, since in order to discover what support propositions of one type bestow on those o f another we need to know what is meant by the sentences by which the propositions are respectively expressed.

The first o f these propositions must be held to be doubtful; the second may well be true. But even if they are both true, what is that to the purpose? D o we really want to conclude that men are responsible agents just to the extent that their actions are inexplicable? Our theist may protest that this is a travesty of his position. He wants to credit men with the power o f self-determination. But what is this supposed to be? If it does not mean that men sometimes act spontaneously, or in other words that it is sometimes a matter o f chance that they act as they do, it does not mean anything at all.

He wants to credit men with the power o f self-determination. But what is this supposed to be? If it does not mean that men sometimes act spontaneously, or in other words that it is sometimes a matter o f chance that they act as they do, it does not mean anything at all. But what sort o f responsibility is it that is conferred only by chance? One can only conclude that the ‘theological’ concept o f free will is utterly confused. It is interesting to speculate whether this confusion extends to the concept of free will which is built into our everyday legal and moral judgements and also into the affective attitudes o f pride or shame, gratitude or resentment, reverence or indignation, which the moral judgements sustain.

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