A. J. Ayer

Alfred Jules Ayer

1910 (London) – 1989 (London)

Ayer was the leading British logical positivist philosopher. Ryle taught him; Quine was the only other anglophone admitted to Vienna Circle meetings. Berlin, a friend and colleague, said he was more a mechanic than an inventor as a philosopher (their fathers, in the timber trade, also knew each other). He wrote about Russell, in whose tradition he followed, and joined Bronowski, Huxley and Medawar in radio discussions. Cummings was a lifelong (if unlikely) friend, despite Ayer’s fling with Cummings’ wife. He met Giacometti and Camus (but not Sartre, who called him “un con”).