The following extracts come from a memoir of philosophical life between the wars and after, written in the 1970s by the Anglo-Scottish philosopher Louis Arnaud Reid (1895–1986).2 Today Reid is best known for his writings on aesthetics, and as the holder of the foundation chair in the philosophy of education at the University of London. Reid will also be familiar to those who have read A.J. Ayer's account of Ayer's appointment to the chair of philosophy at London, for Reid was the candidate strongly preferred by the philosophers on the selection committee.3 Reid regretted the rise of logical positivism in the later 1930s because it introduced a break with the earlier world of humane philosophical discourse.
In these extracts, edited by his grandson, Reid begins by giving a sense of the breadth of topics covered in philosophical conferences in the 1920s, before sketching some of the characters involved. He mentions of course a number of figures still familiar to us, from Moore to Russell to Wittgenstein, but tries more generally to give an impression of a philosophical world which is now largely lost. These are themes he continues elsewhere in the book, where he discusses the people he knew at Edinburgh, Aberystwyth, Liverpool, Newcastle and London.