A.J. Ayer

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Person.png A.J. Ayer  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(philosopher, spook)
Alfred Jules Ayer.png
Born29 October 1910
Died27 June 1989 (Age 78)
Alma materEton College, Christ Church (Oxford), University of Vienna
PartyLabour, Social Democratic Party
British spook and later Oxford professor

Employment.png Professor of Logic

In office
1959 - 1978
EmployerNew College (Oxford)
Also spook

Employment.png Intelligence operative

In office
1943 - 1945
Preceded byA.J. Ayer

Alfred Jules Ayer was a British spook and professor in philosophy at Oxford.[1]


Ayer was born in St John's Wood, in north west London, to Jules Louis Cyprien Ayer and Reine (née Citroen), wealthy parents from continental Europe. His mother was from the Dutch-Jewish family that founded the Citroën car company in France; his father was a Swiss Calvinist financier who worked for the Rothschild family, including for their bank and as secretary to Alfred Rothschild.[2][3][4]

Intelligence work

From October 1941 to March 1943, Ayer worked as a Special Operations Executive agent within British Security Co-ordination with cover symbol G.246, in the Political and Minorities Section. He worked on intelligence on Latin America, particularly Argentina and Chile.[5] He later served with SOE in France.[6]

In 1950, he attended the Berlin Congress for Cultural Freedom as a member of the British delegation, which was funded by the Foreign Office through the Information Research Department.[7] Along with Hugh Trevor-Roper he became a focus for opposition amongst participants to the militant anti-communism of the organisers.[8]

Ayer was also involved in politics, including anti-Vietnam War activism, supporting the Labour Party (and later the Social Democratic Party), chairing the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination in Sport, and president of the Homosexual Law Reform Society.[1] He was known for his advocacy of humanism, and was the second president of the British Humanist Association (now known as Humanists UK).

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  1. a b Alfred Jules Ayer, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 19 May 2009.
  2. https://archive.org/details/ajayerlife00roge
  3. Anthony Quinton, Alfred Jules Ayer. Proceedings of the British Academy, 94 (1996), pp. 255–282.
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/29/world/c-a-j-ayer-dead-in-britain-at-78-philosopher-of-logical-positivism-914989.html
  5. Thomas E. Mahl, Desperate Deception, Brassey's 1999, p.190.
  6. Stephen Dorril, MI6, Touchstone 2002, p.478.
  7. Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper, Granta Books, 2000, p.76.
  8. Hugh Wilford, Calling the Tune? The CIA, the British Left and the Cold War, Frank Cass, 2003, p.194.