A. J. Ayer quotes

Sir Alfred Jules “Freddie” Ayer (often abbreviated A. J. Ayer) was an Oxford University-educated philosopher best known for his focus on logical positivism.

A. J. Ayer Famous Quotes:

“No moral system can rest solely on authority.”

A. J. Ayer quotes

Family Wealth:

Ayer was born into money in north west London. His mother was from the Dutch family that founded Citroën, the car empire in France. His father, whom he was named after, was a Swiss financier who worked for the wealthy Rothschild banking family.

Military Career:

During the Second World War, Ayer had a stint as an MI6 agent.


In addition to academia, Ayer loved sports. He was a lifelong fan of Tottenham Hotspur football team, one of the London-based football clubs in the British Premier League.

Logical Positivism:

Ayer believed that unless you could prove something, it had no place in philosophy. As such, he deemed the religious belief that “God exists” or even moral statements like “charity is good” not factual, and should be ignored.

He considered most religious statements to be unverifiable nonsense. He stated emphatically that he did not believe in God and was an atheist.

Along this line of reasoning, he posited that certain elements of traditional philosophy – including metaphysics, theology, and aesthetics – were not verifiable, and therefore, were meaningless.

In 1988, Ayer had a near-death experience, which he wrote about in a piece entitled “What I saw when I was dead.” The event shook his originally-held belief that there is no life after death. He had always opposed the life-after-death teachings of many religions.

He was even said to have privately confided in his doctor that he had encountered a Divine Being during his near-death experience. However, he never publicly changed his position as an atheist.

His Influences:

Ayer admired and wrote books about other philosophers including Bertrand Russell, David Hume, and Voltaire.


A. J. Ayer was knighted in 1970.

Some of his famous works include:

1936, Language, Truth, and Logic
1940, The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge
1954, Philosophical Essays
1957, “The conception of probability as a logical relation”, in S. Korner, ed., Observation and Interpretation in the Philosophy of Physics
1956, The Problem of Knowledge
1963, The Concept of a Person and Other Essays
1967, “Has Austin Refuted the Sense-Data Theory?”.
1968, The Origins of Pragmatism
1969, Metaphysics and Common Sense
1971, Russell and Moore: The Analytical Heritage
1972, Probability and Evidence
1973, The Central Questions of Philosophy
1977, Part of My Life
1979, “Replies”, in G. Macdonald, ed., Perception and Identity: Essays Presented to A. J. Ayer, With His Replies
1980, Hume
1982, Philosophy in the Twentieth Century
1984, Freedom and Morality and Other Essays
1986, Ludwig Wittgenstein
1984, More of My Life
1988, Thomas Paine
1989, “That undiscovered country”, New Humanist
1990, The Meaning of Life and Other Essays
1992, The Philosophy of A.J. Ayer