What does Oxford have to do with Jerusalem?

I’m reading Keith Ward’s More than Matter? and found it interesting to learn that two of Ward’s teachers were the Oxford philosophers Gilbert Ryle and A.J. Ayer. Ryle was famous for characterizing Cartesian dualism as “the ghost in the machine,” and Ayer was the famed proponent of logical positivism. Ward says that he came to believe that neither Ryle’s quasi-behaviorist “ordinary language” philosophy nor Ayer’s logical positivism provided a satisfying explanation of the nature of the human person. (Or, by extension, the nature of reality more generally.) The book goes on to defend a version of idealism–the view, broadly speaking, that mind or spirit is the most fundamental reality upon which everything else depends.

Here’s Ward discussing his move from atheism to Christianity and the celebrity culture surrounding the debates over the new atheism:

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3 thoughts on “What does Oxford have to do with Jerusalem?

  1. I agree with him, of course, about how bad Dawkins is. But I think he’s wrong about it not being an “intellectual” argument against religion; I think that is pretty much the whole of it, actually. I don’t think the slide into Big Brother is the cause of atheism – it’s the result.

    I love the header on your blog, BTW! It’s Blake, right? Gorgeous…..

  2. Yeah, I’m not much of a poetry buff (don’t think I’ve ever really learned how to read it properly) but I’m fascinated by Blake’s visual art.

  3. “Ward says that he came to believe that neither Ryle’s quasi-behaviorist “ordinary language” philosophy nor Ayer’s logical positivism provided a satisfying explanation of the nature of the human person.”

    So did Ayer! In an interview late in his life, he was asked what were the main problems with logical positivism. He answered (I quote from memory) “I suppose the main problem was that it was almost entirely incorrect.”

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