419R. A. N. Whitehead to Harrod, 11 January 1935 [a] , [1]

Replies to a letter not found of 19 December 1934. Whitehead has asked Felix Frankfurter [2] and Quine their opinion on Ayer. On the ground of his own reading of the literature sent by Harrod, [3] Whitehead remarks that Ayer does not yet master mathematical logic, but this deficiency will be remedied with time. Ayer, however, shows remarkable ability in expounding the doctrine of "Logical Positivism", and Whitehead does not doubt that he is the man of the future. He compares him, at his age, to Keynes and Bertrand Russell, [4] and he considers him abler that Barnes (the Bishop of Birmingham). [5] Moreover, in spite of not being a Logical Positivist himself, Whitehead sees with favour the rise in Oxford of a young school of logical positivists.

  1. 1. Part of this letter is reproduced in A. J. Ayer, Part of my Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978, pp. 162-163.

    2. Frankfurter sent Harrod a telegram on 11 January 1935 announcing that Whitehead was about to cable a preliminary favourable opinion to be followed by letter of detailed support (in HPBL Add. 71183/76).

    3. Ayer's writings sent to Whitehead by Harrod are listed in note 1 to letter 413 .

    4. The passage is cited in Harrod, The Life of John Maynard Keynes (1951), p. 97.

    5. Ernest William Barnes (1874-1953), educated at Trinity College in Cambridge, Bishop of Birmingham from 1924 to 1953. Harrod later cited Whitehead's statement in letter 518 to Moore of 29 January 1936.

    1. a. From 504 Radnor Hall, 984 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, Mass., ALS, four pages in HPBL add 72764/19-20.


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