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Casimir Lewy

Casimir Lewy. Photo courtesy of Trinity College

Casimir Lewy (Polish: Kazimierz Lewy) was born in Warsaw, Poland on 26 February 1919. He was a philosopher who worked primarily in Philosophical logic in particular on the concepts of meaning, necessity and logical consequence. He married Eleanor Ford in 1945 and they had three sons, Nicholas, Sebastian and John. He died in Cambridge, UK on 8 February 1991.


Lewy attended the Mikołaj Rej School No.XI (combined secondary and sixth form college) in Warsaw before he left Poland. He also attended lectures in philosophy at Warsaw University while still a schoolboy, having been inspired by an article by Polish philosopher Tadeusz Kotarbiński.

He travelled to Cambridge in 1936 to improve his English and was admitted to Cambridge to study Moral Sciences (Philosophy) at Fitzwilliam House, Cambridge and Trinity College. He graduated in 1939 at the age of twenty, with a First Class degree. As an undergraduate he attended lectures by both G.E. Moore and Wittgenstein.

Lewy gained his PhD in 1943. His thesis, supervised by Moore, was entitled "Some philosophical considerations about the survival of death". John Wisdom was one of the examiners.


After gaining his PhD he lectured in the Faculty of Moral Sciences for the next two years.  His next appointment was as Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool (1945–52). But he missed Cambridge and returned in 1952 as University Lecturer in Moral Sciences. He was to remain at Cambridge for the rest of his career. He was appointed Sidgwick Lecturer in 1955, and in 1959, he became a Fellow of Trinity College. In 1972, he was appointed Reader in Philosophy, and he became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1980. He retired in 1982. He also had three spells as a visiting academic at University of Illinois, 1951-2; University of Texas at Austin, 1967; and Yale University, 1969.


Lewy published one book: Meaning and Modality, 1976. After G.E. Moore's death, he edited Moore's Commonplace Book 1919-1953 (1962), and his Lectures on Philosophy (1966). He also edited two posthumous works of C. D. Broad, his Leibniz (1975), and Kant (1978).

A list of all Casimir Lewy's papers is available here.


Lewy published very little, but he was a memorable and influential teacher. His Festschrift Exercises in Analysis: Essays by Students of Casimir Lewy, edited by Ian Hacking, contains essays by some of his students who went on to become influential philosophers.

"At Cambridge the great influence on all of us in Trinity was Casimir Lewy; he was a Polish Jew who had left Germany just in time before the Second World War. He lost either all or nearly all of his family; he was a charismatic teacher with an enormous influence on a whole generation of philosophy students in Trinity - Ian Hacking, Edward Craig and myself, Crispin Wright - many of us became academics."
(Simon Blackburn interviewed by Alan Macfarlane, 21st April 2009

He was commemorated at Cambridge on 23 September 2000 by having the Philosophy Faculty Library named after him.

Essays and articles about Lewy

Holdcroft, D., 'Lewy, Casimir (1919–1991).' Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Oxford: OUP, . 21 June 2010 </>.

Short biography (Wikipedia)

Hacking, I., 'Casimir Lewy, 1919-1991', Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, V. Proceedings of the British Academy 138 (2006), pp. 171-180. Preprint available here.

Hacking, I., ed.,‘Biographical note’, Exercises in Analysis: Essays by Students of Casimir Lewy, (Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 9–11

Anellis, H., ''Logic and Mathematics in the Library of Casimir Lewy', Modern Logic Vol. 4, no 3 (1994), pp.286-7.


CUL, letters to G. E. Moore

Casimir LewyObituaries

The Guardian (15 Feb 1991); The Times (9 March 1991)