Sir Alfred Ayer (1910-1989)

At home, Regent’s Park, London
20 November 1976

Philosopher Ayer introduced logical positivism (or logical empiricism) to the English-speaking world. This school of philosophy combines empiricism, the idea that observational evidence is indispensable for knowledge of the world, with a version of rationalism, the idea that knowledge includes a component that is not derived from observation.

‘At first he was impatient with the process of being photographed’, Schwartz recollected. ‘When he lectures, he can’t stand in one place, but moves around a great deal. So was it at this time. Finally, I took my camera off the tripod and followed him around the room.’

Photo © National Portrait Gallery, London

Photo © National Portrait Gallery, London