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The influential wrongness of AJ Ayer

Ayer’s work tells us important things about the shortcomings of Anglophone philosophy

By Julian Baggini  

AJ Ayer died 30 years ago

When I started out as a philosophy undergraduate in 1987, AJ Ayer was the best-known and most-celebrated British philosopher alive. His books were featured on pretty much every university’s syllabus and his Language, Truth and Logic even became a set text for the philosophy A Level.

Ayer died 30 years ago this month, before I had graduated. His reputation soon followed into terminal decline: a case of Ayer today, gone tomorrow. Rarely has an intellectual star fallen so swiftly—at least…

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