Arts and Letters Daily linked to a story about A. J. Ayer’s last year of life, including an experience of being clinically dead for four minutes. I’m not usually one for these “notorious atheist changes mind” stories — let atheists (especially deceased atheists) have their dignity, won’t you? — but I was struck by his wife’s comment relative to the eleven months between Ayer’s episode of asphyxia and his final demise:
“He became so much nicer after he died.”
I would submit that there’s a lesson in that for everyone, regardless of your faith (or lack thereof).
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MY favourite A. J. Ayer story relates to an interview with, I think, Brian Magee. I have to confess that I may have doctored the exchange in my memory of it, but it’s the version as I have remembered or misremembered it which appeals to me.
Commenting upon the fact that Language Truth and Logic was the work of a young man, Magee asked what, all those years later, might have been its weaknesses. Ayer, admitted that, of course it had faults, but its main weakness lay in the fact that it was wrong.
I may have completed garbled this, but it’s a good story.