Ayer paragraph 4 to 7

Para 4    

Here he asserts that believers can make no meaningful propositions about transcendent knowledge. We can only know things about the world and not about anything which may be beyond it. And therefore any of these truths are not literally significant.


Para 5

He argues that actually theist would agree! That all matters pertaining to transcendent ‘truths’ are a ‘matter of faith and not reason’ – we cannot know! We cannot define God in ‘intelligible terms’! However he suggests if this is true then the sentence is contradictory since it cannot be both significant in terms of meaning and about God since theists have already agreed it is impossible to say anything significant because we don’t know. If it cannot be described because it makes no sense then it is in fact non-sense!


Para 6

The mystic, suggest Ayer, is really talking about a different level / realm of knowledge; that of intuition. The mystic would argue that it is a valid cognitive faculty but Ayer disagrees. The mystic’s intuition has not revealed any factual knowledge that can be passed on; nothing that can be validated. Indeed Ayer says all the mystic really does it give us ‘indirect information about the condition of his own mind!


Para 7

Even though many philosophers accept the validity of the argument from religious experience Ayer says, no. those philosophers who argue that it is illogical to believe someone who says they have seen a pink bus and then disbelieve them when they say they have experienced God are making a category mistake.

A pink bus can exist and can be verified as a synthetic proposition and we can all know what the person means. However the experience of God is an emotion laden one. Even if we could accept that the person is having a religious experience it still doesn’t mean that God exists. Because it cannot be verified.


Did you find this information helpful?