Lewes, George Henry

Lewes, George Henry

(lo͞o`ĭs), 1817–78, English critic and author. As editor of the Leader (1850–54) and of the Fortnightly Review (1865–66), Lewes distinguished himself as a critic. Influenced by Comte's positivismpositivism
, philosophical doctrine that denies any validity to speculation or metaphysics. Sometimes associated with empiricism, positivism maintains that metaphysical questions are unanswerable and that the only knowledge is scientific knowledge.
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, he wrote Biographical History of Philosophy (4 vol., 1845–46), Comte's Philosophy of the Sciences (1853), The Physiology of Common Life (2 vol., 1859–60), and Problems of Life and Mind (5 vol., 1874–79). Lewes's plays and novels are forgotten but his most noted work, the Life of Goethe (1855), had a tremendous success. Few men in English literature have produced as much excellent material in such diverse areas. Having been separated from his wife some years earlier, in 1854 he began living with George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), whose work he encouraged and influenced profoundly.


See A. T. Kitchel, George Lewes and George Eliot (1933); H. G. Tjoa, George Henry Lewes: A Victorian Mind (1977).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lewes, George Henry


Born Apr. 18, 1817, in London; died there Nov. 28, 1878. English journalist, literary critic, and positivist philosopher, follower of A. Comte.

Lewes founded the journal Fortnightly Review. In his influential History of Philosophy (vols. 1-4, 1845-46; Russian translation, 1865), Lewes viewed the history of philosophy as a history of errors and attempted to show that positivism was the only path to knowledge. He expounded the principle of the “functional indifference of nerves” arid criticized the doctrine of “physiological idealism” concerning the specific energy of the sense organs. Lewes’ ideas contributed to the spread of naturalism in 19th-century English literature.


Aristotle. London, 1864.
The Problems of Life and Mind, vols. 1-5. London, 1874-79.
The Physical Basis of Mind. London, 1877.
Life and Works of Goethe. London, 1855.
In Russian translation:
“Filosofiia nauk O. Konta.” In G. H. Lewes and J. S. Mill, O. Kont i polozhiteVnaia filosofiia. St. Petersburg, 1867.
Serdtse i mozg [2nd ed.]. St. Petersburg, 1875.
Voprosy o zhizni i dukhe, vols. 1-2. St. Petersburg, 1875-76.
Izuchenie psikhologii, ee predmet, oblast’ i metod. Moscow, 1880.


Stadlin A. “Filosofskoe uchenie D. G. Luisa.” Russkii vestnik, 1876, vols. 124, 125, 126.
Volkov, N. P. D. G. L’iuis. Vladikavkaz, 1904.
Ivashcheva, V. V. “Ot Dzhordzh Eliot k angliiskomu romanu 60-kh gg.” Voprosy literatury, 1971, no. 7.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Lewes, George Henry. "Life and Works of Leopardi." Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country.
LEWES, GEORGE HENRY. "The Lady Novelists." Westminster Review 58 (July 1952): 154.
Lewes, George Henry. Biographical History of Philosophy.