A. J. Ayer Analysis

Additional Reading

(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

Austin, J. L. Sense and Sensibilia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962. A widely read response from an ordinary language perspective to A. J. Ayer’s early epistemological formulations. Austin dismissed Ayer’s views as “weak” and “full of jokes.”

Foster, John. The Philosophical Arguments of Philosophers: Ayer. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985. A systematic and detailed presentation of Ayer’s philosophical views as contained in his major works. A high-level work, but probably the most authoritative secondary source on Ayer’s views.

Griffiths, A. Phillips. A. J. Ayer Memorial Essays. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University, 1991. An excellent collection of commentaries on Ayer’s contributions to philosophy by those who knew him personally. Includes a British Broadcasting Corporation interview with Ayer conducted during the last year of his life.

Hahan, Lewis, E., ed. The Philosophy of A. J. Ayer. Library of Living Philosophers series. La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1992. Ayer responds to twenty-one of the twenty-four papers addressing his work. Also contains Ayer’s essay “My Mental Development” and a bibliography of his publications. The best survey of his life’s work.

Hanfling, Oswald. A. J. Ayer. New York: Routledge, 1999. An excellent biographical introduction to the thoughts of the philosopher, clearly presented and requiring no special background. Bibliography.

Hanfling, Oswald. A. J. Ayer: Analysing What We Mean. London: Phoenix, 1997. An examination of Ayer’s work and his contribution to philosophy.

MacDonald, G. F., ed. Perception and Identity: Essays Presented to A. J. Ayer with His Replies to Them. London: Macmillan, 1979. A set of essays honoring Ayer upon his retirement from Oxford, made more useful by the inclusion of his responses to each paper.

Magee, Bryan. Modern British Philosophy. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1971. Interviews with leading British philosophers including A. J. Ayer and his early mentor Gilbert Ryle. A sound and easily understood presentation of Ayer’s views.

Priest, Stephen. The British Empiricists: Hobbes to Ayer. New York: Penguin Books, 1990. An excellent source for placing Ayer’s work in the tradition from which it emerged.