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A J Ayer on Logical Positivism - Comments

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 1 by Stevehill

Amazing to think that the BBC used to do stuff like this!

Where did we go wrong? It's not even expensive to make. And they have many more free-to-air channels now.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:19:07 UTC | #539341

The Plc's Avatar Comment 2 by The Plc

Yes, I've seen these before, quite amazing to think that they were prime time viewing back in the day. There is also a very good a rare interview with the young Noam Chomsky as well talking about his science. Bryan Magee is still alive and kicking isn't he? We should petition the BBC to do some kind of special no?

For all it's faults though, the BBC probably still is the world's best broadcaster. The level and the standard of the science and nature programming, as well as 'highbrow' arts, isn't even comparable to other broadcasters I can think of, in the UK at least.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:37:30 UTC | #539347

RichardNevin's Avatar Comment 3 by RichardNevin

Richard,

I love to listen to philosophers like Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens demolishing theistic arguments. But I have spent nearly all of my spare time over the past 10 years or so reading science not philosophy.

Is philosophy dead, as Stephen Hawking claims in his new book "The Grand Design"? Or is it still necessary to read through the works of famous philosophers in order to get a fuller understanding of reality?

I only ask because there are many more popular science books that I am keen to read and to start on a path reading philosophy would take quite some time!

Thanks

Richard Nevin

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:51:52 UTC | #539350

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 4 by Richard Dawkins

Bryan Magee is still alive and kicking isn't he? We should petition the BBC to do some kind of special no?

Yes, Bryan Magee is very much alive and kicking. I saw him at a dinner for a visiting lecturer in Lady Margaret Hall only a week ago, as lively and interesting as ever, at 80. I think it would be a very good idea if the BBC did a re-run of these programmes, presumably on one of their satellite channels such as BBC 4. Magee's televised conversations are a splendid example of what can be achieved by respecting the intelligence of the television audience, instead of treating them like morons who deserve nothing better than Big Brother and the current version of Horizon. Given the right kind of élitism – inclusive rather than exclusive élitism – I'm proud to be an élitist.

Richard

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:51:57 UTC | #539351

Krasny's Avatar Comment 5 by Krasny

So I'm not the only one who thinks the BBC is dumbed down to village idiot status? Interesting.

Science coverage seems to resemble reality TV shows, with a thin veneer of science, and Brian Cox saying "gosh wow" every now and again.

The BBC news channel is cringingly conformist and wilfully ignores most of the real news going on around the world, and spends most of it's time repeating a few "headlines" endlessly, and most of these headlines seem to be about the celebrity du jour, for example, Wayne Rooney, or reporting on Come Dancing, or bizarrely X Factor.

Drama is politically correct and anodyne to the point of homoeopathy.

And as for rational debate, the BBC leaves that entirely to Channel 4.

My frustration at the BBC caused me to stop subscribing to the TV license.

I highly recommend that all UK readers of RDF do the same.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 10:20:48 UTC | #539357

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 6 by Richard Dawkins

My frustration at the BBC caused me to stop subscribing to the TV license. I highly recommend that all UK readers of RDF do the same.

I don't think that's a legal option if you own a TV set, is it? I'm reminded of the man who wrote the following letter to the Inland Revenue:

"Dear Sir
You are very kind, but I would prefer not to join your Income Tax scheme.
Yours faithfully"

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 10:31:26 UTC | #539361

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 7 by Anaximander

I'm proud to be an élitist.

To say that is against the EEP (The E-word Exclusion Principle.)

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 10:33:14 UTC | #539362

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 8 by AtheistEgbert

Don't be fooled by philosophy. It is a child's game--rather like theology--but rather than being based on God it is based on the mind.

The mind and subsequently language, mathematics and logic are all products of nature. Thus, the mind is part of nature and belongs within the realm of naturalism or science.

All philosophy divorced from reality has failed in constructing truths from the mind or products of the mind, because scepticism eliminates them. Then finally scepticism destroys itself.

Only reality provides us with justified truths and that is the philosophy otherwise known as science or naturalism.

Naturalism destroys absolute scepticism, because absolute scepticism is founded in language and language is a product of nature.

Naturalism destroys all absolutes, including political idealism, nihilism, and religion. It is the only positive worldview that all philosophers, scientists and atheists should begin to adopt.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 11:06:12 UTC | #539371

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

Here is another good interview by Bryan Magee with J.P. Stern about Nietzsche. Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5. The interview describes Nietzsche's attack on Christianity and Christian morality. It is timely because we're so interested in revaluing morality today. He is of course the most important atheist philosopher to have lived.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 11:41:16 UTC | #539377

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 10 by Steve Zara

Science coverage seems to resemble reality TV shows, with a thin veneer of science, and Brian Cox saying "gosh wow" every now and again.

I disagree. There have been some pretty good series on the BBC lately. There was a recent Horizon about the status of the Big Bang idea, and quite detailed documentary series such as Jim Al-Khalili's "Atom" and Adam Rutherford's "The Cell".

I also think Cox is an effective presenter, who brings enthusiasm to the subject of physics, and really knows what he's talking about.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 12:37:14 UTC | #539388

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 11 by Noble Savage

Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed "The Cell". Good stuff!

Comment 10 by Steve Zara : There have been some pretty good series on the BBC lately. There was a recent Horizon about the status of the Big Bang idea, and quite detailed documentary series such as Jim Al-Khalili's "Atom" and Adam Rutherford's "The Cell".

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 12:56:35 UTC | #539391

JackR's Avatar Comment 12 by JackR

Ayer's long been a favourite philosopher of mine. I think I remember seeing this at the time, so I shall certainly be taking another look.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 13:21:12 UTC | #539394

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 13 by Stevehill

I don't think that's a legal option if you own a TV set, is it? I'm reminded of the man who wrote the following letter to the Inland Revenue:

"Dear Sir You are very kind, but I would prefer not to join your Income Tax scheme. Yours faithfully"

Yes, but they gave Michael Ashcroft a peerage and made him Treasurer of the Conservative Party!

As I understand it you need a TV license to watch programmes at the time they are broadcast. You can watch them in some time-delayed format, such as BBC iPlayer or by buying a DVD, without a license.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 13:41:35 UTC | #539399

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 14 by sunbeamforjeebus

Stevehill is correct,a licence is required to watch an actual broadcast,but not to watch recordings. I also remember these riveting discussions and would love to watch something of this quality again.All our media seem to be more interested in Wayne Rooney and Eastenders rather than current affairs or anything of substance.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 13:54:08 UTC | #539403

JackR's Avatar Comment 15 by JackR

See also Magee and Ayer on Frege and Russell.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:11:39 UTC | #539409

Jay G's Avatar Comment 16 by Jay G

Isn't A. J. Ayer the one who wrote that the statememt that the moon is made of green cheese is "nonsense" because it is not verifiable? I guess that's one of the aspects of Logical Positivism that has no merit today.

Kidding aside, I thought the logical positivist "verifiability" principle was subject to the criticism that the principle itself is not "verifiable" and, therefore, nonsense.

I will, when I get home from work, try to watch as much of the interviews as I can as I would like to hear an explanation of Logical Positivism from Prof. Ayer. I'm sure it will be interesting.

BTW, for any of you who have seen this interview, did Ayer make any references to Moritz Schlick?

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:21:26 UTC | #539414

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 17 by Cartomancer

Given the right kind of élitism – inclusive rather than exclusive élitism – I'm proud to be an élitist.

But is insisting on the use of the acute accent inclusive or exclusive elitism?

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:23:34 UTC | #539417

Jay G's Avatar Comment 18 by Jay G

Isn't "inclusive elitism" a contradiction in terms?

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:33:00 UTC | #539423

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 19 by Steve Zara

Comment 19 by Jay G

Isn't "inclusive elitism" a contradiction in terms?

I don't think so. It sounds like a form of elitism that doesn't try to preserve itself. It's a recognition that some people's views do count more, that truth is not democratic. But it also accepts, and even encourages, others to gain expertise, to join the elite even to the point where the elite is no longer an elite. It's a form of elitism that welcomes becoming outdated.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:53:14 UTC | #539431

Jay G's Avatar Comment 20 by Jay G

With respect to comment #20:

I think the comment fits nicely within the definition of "nonsense".

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:54:48 UTC | #539432

Jay G's Avatar Comment 21 by Jay G

Comment 21 by Steve Zara :

Comment 19 by Jay G

Isn't "inclusive elitism" a contradiction in terms?

I don't think so. It sounds like a form of elitism that doesn't try to preserve itself. It's a recognition that some people's views do count more, that truth is not democratic. But it also accepts, and even encourages, others to gain expertise, to join the elite even to the point where the elite is no longer an elite. It's a form of elitism that welcomes becoming outdated.

You just think that way because you are an elitist. :)

If a group which considers itself "elite" also welcomes others to the point that there would be nobody left on the outside, then how could it be considered elitist?

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:02:48 UTC | #539438

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 22 by hungarianelephant

Comment 13 by Stevehill :

As I understand it you need a TV license to watch programmes at the time they are broadcast. You can watch them in some time-delayed format, such as BBC iPlayer or by buying a DVD, without a license.

That's the standard interpretation, but if you read the legislation carefully, that's not what it says at all. Sneaky.

Course, it's all moot if they can't prosecute you. I'm only saying.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:07:41 UTC | #539440

frax71's Avatar Comment 23 by frax71

how do you flag a comment see comment 20 mabus is back

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:22:18 UTC | #539445

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 24 by Anaximander

Kidding aside, I thought the logical positivist "verifiability" principle was subject to the criticism that the principle itself is not "verifiable" and, therefore, nonsense.

Is that verifiable?

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:25:39 UTC | #539449

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 25 by Steve Zara

Comment 23 by Jay G

You just think that way because you are an elitist. :)

I certainly am :)

If a group which considers itself "elite" also welcomes others to the point that there would be nobody left on the outside, then how could it be considered elitist?

Because it recognises that, right now, there is an elite.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:29:24 UTC | #539451

BoltzmannBrain's Avatar Comment 26 by BoltzmannBrain

Richard,

Have you read Steven Weinberg's views on logical positivism, in "Dreams of a Final Theory"? They aren't positive.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:29:27 UTC | #539452

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 27 by Anaximander

If a group which considers itself "elite" also welcomes others to the point that there would be nobody left on the outside, then how could it be considered elitist?

You forget that a name is more important than what it means. At least we are then all members of an elite group.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:30:59 UTC | #539454

BoltzmannBrain's Avatar Comment 28 by BoltzmannBrain

Those of you who are smugly owning up to being elitists:

Have you considered the possibility that you fellas aren't in the elite? Or at least that there is a higher elite than your elite?

How would Richard feel if someone much brighter than him, such as Steven Weinberg, wrote him off as a "moron"?

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:33:27 UTC | #539456

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 29 by Anaximander

But is insisting on the use of the acute accent inclusive or exclusive elitism?

When inclusive elitists have accepted everybody as members, there is still the group of exclusive élitists, who use all their time trying to solve your question.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:40:07 UTC | #539459

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 30 by Steve Zara

How would Richard feel if someone much brighter than him, such as Steven Weinberg, wrote him off as a "moron"?

If I were written off as a moron by Steven Weinberg I would consider it an honour that he even knew my name. As Terry Pratchett wrote in Mort, sometimes a slap is better than being ignored.

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 15:47:54 UTC | #539463