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George Henry Lewes
(18 Apr 1817 - 28 Nov 1878)

English philosopher and naturalist whose early career began as a writer and critic, but he later turned to popularizing science. He was the common-law husband of Mary Ann Evans (pen-name George Eliot).

George Henry Lewes
“Systematic classification”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

“Science is the systematic classification of experience.”
— George Henry Lewes
The Physical Basis of Mind (1877).

More George Henry Lewes quotes on science >>

George Henry Lewes in his early career was a critic and writer, who later developed an interest in natural sciences, especially physiology. In his book The Physical Basis of Mind (1877) he brought together material previously published in the Fornightly Review in 1868, of which he had then been editor. In his volume he collected four essays, in which he set himself a problem to address, of which the first was on 'The Nature of Life.' He began by stating the problem relating The Mind as a problem explained as an activity of Life. He asserted that:

It is possible to read books on Natural History with intelligence and profit, and even to make good observations, without a scientific groundwork of biological instruction; and it is possible to arrive at empirical facts of hygiene and medical treatment without any physiological instruction. But in all three cases the absence of a scientific basis will render the knowledge fragmentary and incomplete; and this ought to deter every one from offering an opinion on debatable questions which pass beyond the limit of subjective observations. The psychologist who has not prepared himself by a study of the organism has no more right to be heard on the genesis of the psychical states, or of the relations between body and mind, than one of the laity has a right to be heard on a question of medical treatment.

And thus he began with his next subheading on 'The Position of Biology' with the statement shown above as the subject quote:

Science is the systematic classification of Experience.

Showing his growth towards philosophy, he then postulated three Modes of Existence: Force, Life, Mind. He distinguished between them saying the first covered “the range of general properties exhibited by all substances” with the second and third covering organized and animal substances.

Later in the work, he gave an interesting original idea, when he considered “Mr. Darwin’s hypotheses” and suggested his own “modification to the hypothesis of Natural Selection, extending it to the tissues and organs that principle of competition which Mr. Darwin has so luminously applied to organisms.”

In fact, he is now remembered by physiologists for pointing out a doctrine of the functional indifference of nerves but with different modes of action in various nerves such as the optic, auditory or others.

Text by Webmaster with quotes from The Physical Basis of Mind (1877), 4. (source)

See also:
  • Science Quotes by George Henry Lewes.
  • 18 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Lewes's birth.
  • George Henry Lewes - context of quote “Systematic classification” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • George Henry Lewes - context of quote “A cell is regarded as the true biological atom.” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • George Henry Lewes - context of quote “A cell is regarded as the true biological atom.” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • George Henry Lewes - context of quote “We must never assume that which is incapable of proof.” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • George Henry Lewes - context of quote “We must never assume that which is incapable of proof.” - Large image (800 x 400 px)

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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