The Great Philosophers: Ayer by Oswald Hanfling

By Oswald Hanfling

Based on Ayer, philosophy is an task of research, now not a way to fact. First ideas and metaphysical truths can neither be verified or denied byphilosophical enquiry. He attempted to end up that verifibility (whether a proposition will be proven to be real or fake) was once the most important precept of philosophical technique.

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According to the empiricism of Ayer and others, only empirical statements can be informative. But the informative capacity of '37 x 37 = 1369' is not put into doubt by the claim that multiplication is definable in terms of addition. ) A relevant distinction can be made by reference to knowledge of meanings. Let us take '2 + 2 = 4' as an example. Anyone who understands the meaning of this sentence must recognize that what it says is true. But this is not so when we turn to '37 x 37 = 1369': in thi§ case 42 knowledge of meaning does not entail knowledge that the statement is true, and that is why the statement can be informative.

In the case of such statements as this, however, it cannot even be claimed that they 'add nothing to our knowledge' (let alone that the expressions in them 'are synonymous'). While anyone acquainted with the meanings of 'oculist' and 'eye-doctor' must be aware that an oculist is an eye-doctor, it is quite possible for someone acquainted with the meanings of '91', 'x', '79', etc. to be ignorant of the product of these numbers. He may then learn what the answer is (thus 'adding to his knowledge'), either by being informed of it or by working it out for himself.

This is what Ayer must hold, in accordance with the phenomenalist analysis. ) In LTL he had claimed that to say of a person that he remembers 'is to say merely that some of [his] senseexperiences . . contain memory images which correspond to the sense-contents which have previously occurred in the sense-history' of that person (LTL 166). But one may remember that the leaves rustled without having such images; and conversely, one may have such images without remembering that the leaves rustled: one may be imagining this as opposed to remembering it.

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