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Its Better to Have Brains Than Beauty

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INTRODUCTION The plays and prefaces of Bernard Shaw deal with many and diverse themes. At least four, however, concern themselves with evolutionary themes and ideas: Man and Superman, Back to Methusalah, The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, and Far-fetched Fables. In Man and Superman, especially the third act, the preface, and The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion, Shaw touches on two main themes: the pursuit of man by woman and the direction of evolution, which Shaw sees as leading towards the development of the mind and brain. In Back to Methusalah, Shaw carries forward his vision of evolution as proceeding in the direction of mental development but introduces a seemingly new idea in the last play of the cycle, the antithesis of mind and body. Shaw's dualism receives its most explicit statement in the last play of the cycle although there may be indications of it in the earlier plays. The mind-body antithesis, however, derives as a philosophical problem from Descartes,1 although the antithesis also appeared in the Manichean and Gnostic heresies, the spirit, or mind, being regarded as good and the body as evil. Although the antithesis of body and mind makes its first open appearance in the Methusalah cycle, it is present, at least as an implicit assumption in Man and Superman. Don Juan continually expresses his longing for the life of contemplation, a life which is to be achieved at the expense of the body. We will deal with the presence of the mind body antithesis, and its possible source, in this paper. The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles is not one of Shaw's best plays; moreover, it is in a sense tangential to the main line of development that Shaw's evolutionary thought had taken after the 1920's. It is included, here, however, because the principle of social selection forms a counterpart to circumstantial, or natural, selection in Darwinian theory. the main point of The Simpleton is simply that those who are incapable of pulling their weight in the social boat should and must be eliminated if society is to survive and prosper. Angelic selection, in the play, thus comes to take the place of circumstantial selection. This play, which seems to countenance capital punishment, horrified Shaw's official biographer, Archibald Henderson,2 who felt it was inconsistent with Shaw's earlier beliefs. Stanley Weintraub, in his recent book Journey to Heartbreak, has shown that the seed of The Simpleton was present as early as 1914,3 twenty years before The Simpleton was written. There is in fact, as I hope to show, a thread of continuity from Man and Superman to The Simpleton. Further, Shaw's position on elimination of the socially incapable was more consistent than Henderson thought. Far-fetched Fables represents Shaw's final dramatic word on the subject of evolution and is a summary of his views. the final playlet presents a formerly disembodied spirit who has chosen to take on a body again. This apparently cyclical process of evolution and retrogression refers us back to Man and Superman, which in one of the Devil's speeches contains an anticipation of this cyclical view of history and evolution.
W.T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy; Kant to Wittgenstein and Sartre (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1969) pp. 354, 375-78 and C.E.M. Joad, Guide to Philosophy (New York: Dover Publications, 1957, p. 495 ff. 2 Archibald Henderson, George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1956), pp 639-49. 3 Stanley Weintraub, Journey to Heartbreak: The Crucible Years of Bernard Shaw 1914-18 (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1971), p. 76.

Thomas E. Hart C.E.M. Joad, who tried to provide a philosophical basis for Shaw's socialistic and evolutionary doctrines in his book, Matter, Life, and Value, and who was later to renounce his Shavian principles and join the Anglican Church, gives in his Guide to Philosophy a fairly lengthy discussion of the mind-body problem. Joad and W.T. Jones, as mentioned above, see the problem as originating in its philosophic context with Descartes, who in the sixth of his Meditations Touching the First Problem of Philosophy says: And although possibly (or rather certainly, as I shall say in a moment) I possess a body with which I am very intimately conjoined, yet because, on the one side, I have a very clear and distinct idea of myself inasmuch as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as, on the other, I possess a distinct idea of body, inasmuch as it is only as extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that this I [that is to say, my soul by which I am what I am], is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it.4 Religiously, however, the antithesis is endemic in Christianity,, where it takes the form of a soul (not mind) body antithesis. As an example of the religious sense of the soul-body dualism, let us briefly take the theology of Thomas Aquinas, which depends heavily on the philosophy of Aristotle, and which asserts the existence of a soul composed of the two faculties of intellect and will.5 Aquinas' theology accepts as necessary the co-existence and interconnection of the soul and the body. The intellect, or mind, since it was supposed to form part of the soul, was naturally thought of as being distinct from the body by Aquinas. William James, however, despite his resolve to proceed along purely materialistic lines in his Principles of Psychology, had recourse to the doctrine of the soul. In his chapter on the mind-stuff theory, James shows that the postulate of a mind-dust, which is co-extensive and co-temporal with matter and which permeates matter, is a possible explanation of the evolution of consciousness. James, however, rejects this theory for various reasons and postulates a "theory of polyzoism or multiple monadism"6 and reaches the following conclusion: Every brain-cell has its own individual consciousness, which no other cell knows anything about, all individual consciousness being "ejective" to each other. There is, however, among the cells one central or pontifical one to which our consciousness is attached. But the events of all the other cells physically influence this arch-cell; and through producing their joint effects on it, these other cells may be said to "combine." the arch-cell is, in fact, one of those "external media" without which we saw that no fusion or integration of a number of things can occur. The physical modifications of the arch-cell thus form a sequence of results in the production whereof every other cell has a share, so that, as one might say, every other cell is represented therein. And similarly, the conscious correlates to these physical modifications form a sequence of thoughts or feelings, each one of which is, as to its substantive being, an integral and uncompounded psychic thing, but each one of which may (in the exercise of its cogniRené Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Great Books of the Western World, ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952), 31, p. 98. 5 Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica, Great Books of the Western World, ed Robert Maynard Hutchins (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952), 19, pp. 378-480. 6 William James, The Principles of Psychology, Great Books of the Western World, ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952), 53, p. 117.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw tive function) be aware of things many and complicated in proportion to the number of other cells that have helped to modify the central cell.7 James, however, rejects this theory too: There is no cell or group of cells in the brain of such anatomical or functional preeminence as to appear to be the keystone or centre of gravity of the whole system. And even if there were such a cell, the theory of multiple monadism would, in strictness of thought, have no right to stop at it and treat it as a unit. The cell is no more a unit, materially considered, than the total brain is a unit. It is compound of molecules, just as the brain is a compound of cells and fibres. And the molecules, according to the prevalent physical theories, are in turn compounds of atoms. The theory in question, therefore, if radically carried out, must set up for its elementary and irreducible psycho-physic couple, not the cell and its consciousness, but the primordial and eternal atom and its consciousness.8 James maintains that this is a return to "Leibnitzian monadism" and has no bearing on physiology or psychology since it is merely speculative and metaphysical.9 This rejection of the mind-dust and of "multiple monadism" leaves James with the soul and soul which is strangely Thomistic in that it is the co-ordinating agent for sense impressions, and the center of intellectual activity and will.10 James, however, leaves the soul out of his discussion of psychology after this point,11 so that his psychology proceeds along entirely materialistic and monistic lines for the rest of the book. James, in short, offers no explanation of the interaction of brain and mind and deals solely with the observable phenomena, which is to say the physiological basis of psychology. Joad, in his Guide, however, would appear to agree with James that there is an intellectual principle distinct from the body: Common sense holds that human being is not exclusively a body. He has a body but he is, it would normally be said, more than his body; and he is more, in virtue of the existence of an immaterial principle which, whether it be called mind, soul, consciousness or personality, constitute the reality of his being. This immaterial principle, most people hold, is in some way associated with the body—it is frequently said to reside in it—and animates and controls it. It is on some such lines as these that the plain man would, I think, be inclined to describe the makeup of the human being. He would describe the human organism, that is to say, as a duality. In the view of the present writer this common-sense account, which discerns in a human being the presence of two radically different principles, is nearer to the truth than any other of the alternatives in the field.12 The problem with the common-sense view is that when examples of organic damage to the brain are looked at one can see personality changes, changes which, in the case of surgical procedures such as lobotomy, leave a definite scar on the tissue as well as a change in personality and mental state, the change in the mind, however, cannot be directly perceived.
7 8


Ibid., pp. 117-18. Ibid., p. 118. 9 Ibid. 10 Aquinas, pp. 401, 413-27, and passim. 11 James, pp. 119-20 12 Joad, Guide, p. 498.

Thomas E. Hart This observation would lead one to state that brain and mind are a single unit and that the two terms are merely synonyms for the same physical fact. there is also the further problem that if the mind and the body constitute two fundamentally opposed modes of existence there would appear to be no way for the two to interact. Joad's assertion that: Now, although it may be true that the brain is modified whenever a man thinks or feels, the fact that these modification take place is not the whole of what we mean to assert when we say of anyone that he is thinking and feeling. Thinking and feeling are, we should affirm, at least in part, mental occurrences. As such, they cannot be discerned by any of the senses; they can be neither seen, touched, smelled, tasted, nor heard; they can only be experienced by the consciousness in which they occur.13 is true insofar as they can be only indirectly observed through reports from the subject and through instruments. This indirect observation, however, does not reveal the contents of consciousness, only its existence and the presence of certain broad types of states, such as thought, sleep, dream, meditation, and so on, or the presence of organic brain dysfunction. Joad cites numerous examples of the interaction of mind and body; however, his examples seem unsatisfactory since what he is talking about can be explained in purely physiological terms. For example, to say "if I am moved to anger, my face becomes red,"14 is to omit the fact that what causes the face to redden is the dilation, or expansion, of the blood vessels in the face and that this is caused by an influx of adrenaline into the bloodstream. The reddening of the face is not necessarily caused by anger to the exclusion of all other emotions, it can be caused by running fast, the injection of a stimulant, or the presence of any substance which would cause the blood vessels to dilate, and these things are not mental states. William James, however, contends that "the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion."15 As James says: If we fancy some strong emotion, and then try to abstract from our consciousness of it all the feelings of its bodily symptoms, we find we have nothing left behind, no "mind stuff" out of which the emotion can be constituted, and that a cold and neutral state of intellectual perception is all that remains.16 James, however, dissociates his views on the origin of emotion from materialism: Let not this view be called materialistic. It is neither more nor less materialistic than any other view which says that our emotions are conditioned by nervous processes. No reader of this book is likely to rebel against such a saying so long as it is expressed in general terms; and if any one still finds materialism in the thesis now defended, that must be because of the special processes invoked. They are sensational processes, processes due to inward currents set up by physical happenings. Such processes have, it is true, always been regarded by the platonizer in psychology as having something peculiarly base about them. But our emotions must always be inwardly what they are, whatever be the physiological ground of their apparition. If they are deep, pure, worthy, spiritual facts on any conceivable theory of their physiological source, they remain no less deep, pure, spiritual, and worthy of regard on this present sensational
13 14


Ibid., p. 499. Ibid. 15 James, p. 743. 16 Ibid., p. 744

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw theory. They carry their own inner measure of worth with them; and is is just as logical to use the present theory of the emotions for proving that sensational processes need not be vile and material, as to use their vileness and materiality as a proof that such a theory cannot be true.17 This, however, seems to be a mere quibble. James has attempted to remove, whether correctly or not, the relation between soul, conceived as an independently existing intellectual being with its various emotional states, and attempted to place the body in a position of primacy. The fact that James accepts the concept of the soul but proceeds in his investigation on strictly physiological lines in itself a materialist solution insofar as it relegates the soul or the mind to a purely secondary role. Assuming, however, that the soul, or the mind and the body, are distinct but interconnected, how is this to be explained? Descartes had, according to Joad, invoked the notion of divine assistance, an idea which sounds rather like Jung's concept of synchronicity. The idea which Joad attributes to Descartes and which actually belongs to Spinoza is an early form of psychological parallelism. If mind and body are radically different, we cannot he agreed, explain their interaction. Therefore, they do not interact, but keep time like two perfectly synchronized clocks. There is no causal connection between the clocks; nevertheless, they keep time. Why do they keep time? Because they were wound and set together, and as a result every tick in the one is accompanied by a corresponding tick in the other. And just as nobody maintains that the ticking of the one causes the ticking of the other, so on Descartes's view, the perfect harmony between mind and body is evidence, not of their causal interaction but of their creation by God, who wound and set them together, with the result that for so long as they are associated thereafter, they keep time.18 I mean by synchronicity, as I have explained elsewhere, the not uncommonly observed "coincidences" of subjective and objective happenings, which just cannot be explained causally, at least in the present state of our knowledge. On this premise astrology is based. These observations, like the astrological findings, are not generally accepted, though as we know this has never hurt the facts. I mention these special effects solely for the sake of completeness and solely for the benefit of those readers who have had occasion to convince themselves of the reality of parapsychic phenomena.19 The analogy here is the idea of two related but acausal phenomena operating two different spheres. Jung's principle is, of course, only temporal in its application and does not have spatial applications. This way out was not chosen by the nineteenth century, however, and two possibilities arose; if mind and body are not radically different, either mind is the same as and part of the body, or body is in some sense a product of or a part of the mind, being either a series of ideas and impressions in the mind, or a mode of perception by the mind. the second alternative leads to philosophical Idealism; the first was adopted by many
Ibid., p. 745. Joad, Guide, p. 503. 19 Carl Gustav Jung, The Basic Writings of C.G. Jung, ed. Violet Staub de Laszlo (New York: The Modern Library, 1959), p.75.
18 17


Thomas E. Hart nineteenth-century psychologists, and became and integral part of the philosophy of Materialism.20 Joad then launches into a discussion of free will and contends that the materialist position results in a denial of free will. This may or may not be true, it would seem to be true as long as one holds that all the properties of matter are known but if one were to invoke the concept of randomness and say that although the behavior of the group can be known the behavior of the individual atom or electron cannot be known then one might have a means of preserving both materialism and free will. Lucretius in his De Rerum Natura followed a similar line of reasoning and Sartre has apparently managed to reconcile his own position supporting free will with Marxism. William James gives a summation of the free-will controversy: A few words, however, may be permitted about the logic of the question. The most that any argument can do for determinism is to make it a clear and seductive conception, which a man is foolish not to espouse, so long as he stands by the great scientific postulate that the world must be one unbroken fact, and that prediction of all things without exception must be ideally, even if not actually possible. It is a moral postulate about the Universe, the postulate that what ought to be can be, and that bad acts cannot be fated, but that good ones must be possible in their place, which would lead one to espouse the contrary view. But when scientific and moral postulates war thus with each other and objective proof is not to be had, the only course is voluntary choice. If, meanwhile, the will be undetermined, it would seem only fitting that the belief in its indetermination should be voluntarily chosen from amongst other possible beliefs. Freedom's first deed should be to affirm itself. We ought never to hope for any other method of getting at the truth if indeterminism be a fact. Doubt of this particular truth will therefore probably be open to us to the end of time, and the utmost that a believer in free-will can ever do will be to show that the deterministic arguments are not coercive. That they are seductive I am the last to deny; nor do I deny that effort may be needed to keep the faith in freedom when they press upon it, upright in the mind.21 James, while admitting that psychology as a science can never resolve the free will controversy, apparently does not believe that to proceed along purely materialistic lines, as he does throughout the book, except for the passage cited above, is to eliminate free will. First nothing can occur in the mind, unless its cerebral counterpart has first occurred in the brain. Secondly, nothing which occurs in the mind can possibly affect anything which occurs in the body. The first conclusion denies free will — it denies, that is to say, that the mind can function independently of bodily causation; the second denies interactionism, — it denies, that is to say, that the mind can have any influence upon a physical happening, although it agrees that a physical happening may affect a mind.22 The second assertion appears to be untrue since we can say to ourselves "I will raise my arm" and then raise our arm but we cannot assert that the raising occurred because of our thought merely that it happened after the thought. If I fail to raise my arm, because of paralysis for example, then the mind has failed to interact with the body. The concept of
20 21


Joad, Guide, p. 503. James, p. 823. 22 Joad, Guide, p. 511.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw hysteria and of psychosomatic medicine, however, asserts a causal relationship between mental occurrences and physical disorder. The control of autonomic processes, such as heart action, is something that yogis have claimed the ability to perform for centuries, and they have claimed to do it through direct mental control. W.T. Jones in History of Western Philosophy gives a summation, much briefer than Joad's of the mind-body problem and cites Wittgenstein's "dissolution" of the problem. It is, in fact, a whole nest of puzzles. For instance, when I will to move my finger and it moves, how does my mind bring about this movement of my body on my command? What sorts of processes or mental states, are intending, hoping, expecting, imagining? What, in general, is the nature of thought, and how is thought related to the brain state that "causes" it or (possibly) that is "correlated" with it? Since my experiences (my psychic life) are private to me and inaccessible to others, how can anyone else ever know what my pain is like? And how can I know this about others?23 Jones states that "Wittgenstein rejected the dichotomy and with it the metaphysical question of whether mind or bodies (or both) are real."24 The mental state, as Jones says, gets its character from the contextual situation and we decide on the nature of the state from its total context and structure.25 The dissolution of the problem of mind-body identity is achieved through a linguistic analysis of what "thinking" and "willing" mean in every day language. We say that somebody is thinking or feeling when the total context of the situation is such that we can affirm that the person, whether ourselves or somebody else, exhibits those traits characteristic of that process, "thinking," "feeling," or "willing." If, however, the context in which these processes occurred changed, then the meaning of the processes would be changed and they would be something else. Wittgenstein's example is that of a coronation, if gold were the cheapest metal, the crown a parody of a hat, and the robes laughable then the whole coronation becomes absurd and laughable. So it is with thought, if I merely give something as a quote or read it I am not thinking, but if my other actions are such as accompany thought, if my circumstances agree with my description, then I can say that I am really thinking and not merely mechanically repeating words.26 This discussion on the nature of dualism with its corresponding problems, has been necessary in order to arrive at an understanding of the philosophic nature of the problem to which the greater part of this paper will be devoted. The spirit-matter antithesis is, of course, present in Plato and appears most memorably in the Republic, especially in the parable of the
Jones, p. 375. Ibid., p. 377. 25 Ibid. p. 378 26 For additional information see John O'Connor, ed., Modern Materialism: Readings on Mind-Body Identity (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Word, Inc., 1969) and Harold Morick, ed., Introduction to the Philosophy of te Mind: Readings from Descartes to Strawson (Glenview: Scott, Foresman & Co., 1970).
24 23


Thomas E. Hart cave and in the Ion, which insists that the artist imitates and imitation of the real world. It also appears in the Manichean heresy and in the other religions of the world. The specific problem, and the recognition of the problem, does, however, seem to stem from Descartes. The purpose of this paper is to see which of the many philosophers and writers with whom Shaw was familiar held this view or held views that were dualistic, and the extent to which they influenced him in presenting his views on evolution in Man and Superman, Back to Methusalah, The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, and Far-fetched Fables.


CHAPTER ONE MAN AND SUPERMAN Don Juan, in the third act of Man and Superman, says "only one sort of man has ever been happy,"1 the philosophic man. The entire purpose of evolution, as Don Juan sees it, is the development of the brain in order that life may understand itself more fully. Just as Life, after ages of struggle, evolved that wonderful bodily organ the eye, so that the living organism could see where it was going and what was coming to help or threaten it, and thus avoid a thousand dangers that formerly slew it, so it is evolving today a mind's eye that shall see, not the physical world, but the purpose of Life, and thereby enable the individual to work for that purpose instead of thwarting and baffling it by setting up shortsighted personal aims as at present. (III, 627-28). Don Juan's ideal individual is "omnipotent, omniscient, infallible, and withal completely, unilludedly self-conscious; in short, a god." (III, 626). This ideal was subjected, especially in the more fully developed version which appears in Back to Methusalah, to some scathing comments by C.E.M. Joad in an article entitled, "Shaw's Philosophy." Joad"s primary criticism is in the form of a question, " What does the Superman contemplate in the eons he spends thinking?" The obvious answer would be that he contemplates being or his own self, thus taking on one of the attributes of the Christian God. Arthur H. Nethercot, in his book on Shaw notes that "Juan's ambition to spend the rest of his life in contemplation — particularly in the contemplation of life, which would result in life contemplating itself — is too metaphysical for the Devil to understand."27 The Devil and Joad seem to share in the failure to understand that the Superman is to take on all of the qualities of a God including perfection of self-understanding. Joad failed to see that the activity of self-contemplation was precisely the activity in which God was traditionally assumed to have been engaged from the beginning of time. Joad's criticism that the contemplative activity that Shaw envisions as the main purpose of future man is without an object28 is invalid on the strictly theological ground that this the proper function of a god and on the ground that the self contemplating itself is split, at least semantically, into subject and object. It therefore appears that Joad's central objection is invalid on its face. The dualism which Joad finds explicitly state in Back to Methusalah is also present, although to a lesser extent and only implicitly, in Man and Superman. Don Juan poses the contradiction between the wished for idealisms of love, beauty, and passion with the physical world in which "Life levels all men." (III, 740) As Don Juan says: The earth is a nursery in which men and women play at being heroes and heroines, saints and sinners; but they are dragged down from their fool's paradise by their bodies; hunger and cold and thirst, age and decay and disease, death above all, make them slaves of reality: thrice a day meals must be eaten and digested: thrice a century a new generation must be engendered: ages of faith, of romance, and of science are all driven at last to have but one prayer "Make me a healthy animal." (III, 616)

Arthur H. Nethercot, Men and Supermen (New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1966), p. 281. Louis Kronenberger, George Bernard Shaw: A Critical Survey (New York: The World Publishing Company, 1953), pp. 198, 200.


Thomas E. Hart Don Juan's idea of heaven to be free from the complications and necessities of bodily existence and to become stage manage of the earthly reality: In heaven, as I picture it, dear lady, you live and work instead of playing and pretending. You face things as they are; you escape nothing but glamor; and steadfastness and your peril are your glory. If the play still goes on here and on earth, and all the world is a stage, Heaven is at least behind the scenes. but Heaven cannot be described by metaphor. Thither I shall go presently, because I hope to escape at last from lies and from the tedious, vulgar pursuit of happiness, to spend my eons in contemplation—(III, 617) This is not quite the same as wishing to be a "whirlpool in pure intelligence"(II,261) but it shows the tendency to conceive of two separate and existing principles, mind and body. Shaw appears to use mind and brain as synonyms,29 which would imply either a monistic conception of mind and body and the possibility of some future development, i.e., the development or enlargement of some group of tissue, such as the thalamus or the neo-pallium that would elevate homo futurus above homo sapiens, or it could mean merely that Shaw saw the development of brain as a necessary condition for the development of mind. The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion, which Shaw appended to the play , however, appears to imply that Supermen have appeared, evidently without any organic abnormality in the structure of the cerebral cortex. Among the people admitted to status as Supermen are Noyes, Cromwell, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Shakespeare, Goethe, and Shelley. (III, 692) and the comment that just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so the proof of the Superman will be in the living. Now all this is unsatisfactory as to the exact nature of the Superman and the eventual course of human evolution. What is interesting, however, is that Shaw speaks of life as having an existence apparently separate from matter and that it is the purpose of life to attain pure consciousness of itself. This view is clearly anticipatory of Lilith's last speech in Back to Methusalah, which envisions life as becoming disentangled from matter. The only coherent conclusion to be drawn is that given by Don Juan that Superman is to be the supreme intellectual, is to be , as Dante said of Aristotle "the master of them that know." The most obvious source for the Superman is, of course, Nietzsche. Shaw's belief that the eventual Superman is to be a vicar of the intellect triumphant on earth, and the triumph is to be achieved at the expense of the material body would seem to be an example of Nietzsche in the Twilight of the Idols and other works called "castratism."30 Shaw listed Nietzsche among the twelve writers whose "peculiar sense of the world" he recognized as similar to his own, the others being Bunyan, Blake, Hogarth, Turner, Goethe, Shelley, Schopenhauer, Wagner, Ibsen, Morris, and Tolstoy. to this list might be added the names of Bergson, whose Creative Evolution appeared between Man and Superman and Back to Methusalah, and Samuel Butler . These two authors will be dealt with in the section on Back to Methusalah: Bergson because Creative Evolution appeared between Man and Superman and Back to Methusalah, and Butler because he is referred to most explicitly in the preface to the latter play and because there Shaw's thought on evolution is given its clearest statement. A full discussion of all these authors and artists would occupy a large volume and rather than attempting to


29 30

See page 7 above. Walter Kaufmann, The Portable Nietzsche (New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1963), pp. 16, 487.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw summarize the work of all of them I hall deal with only a few in this paper.We are concerned primarily with the work of Blake, Shelley, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bergson, and Butler. To speak solely of the intellectual influences on Shaw in his quest for a philosophy of life is a rather crude distortion since it neglects the irrational, i.e., the emotional and religious forces at work on Shaw. Eric Bentley in his book Bernard Shaw discusses briefly the role of passion in Shaw and its relation to intellect. In "The Sanity of Art" Shaw writes that life is "not the fulfillment of a moral law or of the deductions of reason but the satisfaction of a passion in us of which we can give no account whatsoever." The upshot of such a philosophy depends wholly upon its view of the passions. Shaw's is peculiar, at least in its wording. He destroys the antithesis of intellect and emotion by declaring that "thought is a passion." This is not mere logomachy. Shaw is saying that man is a creature of his passions but that the passions are many and various. There are refined passions like chastity and low passions like lust. There are intellectual passions like that for art and there are physical passions like that for gymnastics. The business of living consist not in the suppression of passions by something else—which in practice often means the conquest of harmless passions by ugly ones—but the training and sorting out of all passions, harmless, ugly, intellectual, or physical. "It is not emotion in the raw but as evolved and fixed as intellectual conviction that will save the world." We must take comfort from the fact that human nature gives rise to altruism as well as selfishness, to conscience as well as cruelty. the hope of the race is that the passions of generosity, restraint, and goodness may prove as strong as those of egoism, aggression, and cruelty. "It is quite useless," Shaw says, "to believe that men are born free if you deny that they are born good." conversely, if the passions were uniformly as bad as their reputation the world would be lost.31 That Shaw attempted to fuse the emotions and the intellect is obvious to any reader of his plays, especially Buoyant Billions, in which he attributes a "mathematical passion" to one of the characters. (I, 803) What is of primary interest at the moment, however, is not the fusion itself but the mechanism that led to the fusion. The experience in which Don Juan recognized the life force has its origin in Shaw's personal experience, most notably his seduction by the widow Jenny Patterson. Shaw was seduced by Mrs. Patterson on the morning of his 29th birthday and was apparently overwhelmed by the experience. Shaw, in a letter quoted by St. John Ervine, had claimed to be appalled at the "indecency" of the sex act and yet he found that "the indignity has compensations, which when experienced, overwhelm all the objections to it."32 Shaw's repugnance and sense of "indecency" and "indignity" probably has its origin in a Victorian environment which stressed the dirtiness of the sex act. As William Irvine notes: It is perfectly true that Shaw has expressed a puritanical repugnance to the primitive and undignified fact of human lust, that he has criticized God for combining the sexual with the excretory organs, that in his Back to Methusalah Eve makes a wry face when the serpent whispers in her ear the secret of reproduction. Puritan cleanliness,


Eric Bentley, Bernard Shaw (New York: New Directions, 1957), pp. 49-50 St. John Ervine, Bernard Shaw: His Life, Work and Friends (London: Constable and Company Limited, 1949), p. 383.


Thomas E. Hart puritan pride and logic have always been against the grosser instincts as against the grosser habits.33 Shaw was reproached for his puritanism by St. John Ervine, who said that Eve "should have leaped with joy" when told about sex.34 Shaw's reply to St. John Ervine stresses the fact that Eve had no acquaintance with the dual function of the uro-genital system. 'And you complain because I have not represented her as a grandmother spoiling her first grandchild!!! Blush for yourself. You contend further that I am a misogynic St. Paul because I have represented a woman in a state of complete pre-sex innocence as making a wry face when it is explained to her that in consequence of the indelicacy with which Nature, in a fit of economy, has combined a merely excretory function with a creatively ejaculatory one in the same bodily part (she knowing only the excretory use of it), she is to allow herself to be syringed in an unprecedented manner by Adam. You say that I should have made her jump for joy.... 'It is true that the indignity has compensations which, when experienced, overwhelm all the objections to it; but Eve had not then experienced them. I am myself only too susceptible to them; yet I always feel obliged, as a gentleman, to apologize for my disgraceful behaviour; and I would be shot rather than be guilty of it in public.' Ervine interrupts the letter and says that of course any man would prefer to have sexual relations in solitude. Shaw's letter continues: 'In this I am the normal heterosexual man describing, in Eve, the normal heterosexual woman. Yet you describe me, in an ecstasy of reaction against Victorianism (contemporary with Eve's clothes which I did not design) as a morbid and important [sic] Pauline monster. Stuff! You will have noticed that the arrangement leaves Eve unsatisfied. It leaves the red-blooded he-man Cain unsatisfied. You, in a hearty manner, imply that it leaves you unsatisfied; Everybody is apologetic; we would all like to detach the ecstasy from the indecency. My suggestion is the the passion of the body will finally become a passion of the mind. Already there is a pleasure in thought — creative thought — that is entirely detached from ridiculous and disgusting acts and postures. Shakespeare could not have written of the ecstasies of St. Thomas his sonnet about "the expense of spirit in a waste of shame". The Aberdonian cannot say of the achievements of Einstein that "the position is ridiculous, the pleasure but momentary, and the expense damnable". There is no reaction, no disgust, no love changed to hate. The pleasure falls very short of the pleasure of sex in intensity but you have only to conceive an intensification of the pleasure of thought as it becomes more and more a vital necessity to evolving society and humanity, accompanied by a reduction of intensity in physically reproductive pleasure, to understand why, 30,000 years hence, the naked and physically comfortless Ancient says to the dancing, lovemaking boy that a moment of life lived as the Ancients lived it, in a chronic ecstasy of though, would strike the boy dead. Also why the dancing boy cannot conceive how the Ancients can endure their (to him) apparently joyless existence. 'Grasp this, and you will not longer talk to me the boy talks to the Ancient.


33 34

William Irvine, The Universe of G.B.S.(New York: Russell & Russell, 1968), p. 147. Ervine, p. 383.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw 'When I began, Archer complained that my plays were reeking with sex. Now that I am ending, you complain that I am an anchorite. Women have never complained of me either way. They know that I know what I am talking about. 'After this, it seems an anti-climax to add that Charlotte is now out of bed after halfpast twelve, and downstairs; but it is still very doubtful whether she will be able to come up to town this week. However, if she doesn't, I will: so you may expect me to lunch on Thursday anyhow. We will keep you informed of her progress. ever, G.B.S.35 Both Shaw and Ervine are suffering from the disease of Victorian puritanism. Ervine is abreacting to this Puritanism by affirming the delightfulness of sex and Shaw is affirming the Puritanism by stressing the biological economy which has joined the excretory and sexual function. It is more likely that Eve would have been neither shocked nor delighted but simply curious. The fact that they both stress the element of privacy and solitude is again a matter of cultural conditioning, something which is largely endemic in civilizations of all varieties. The reason that people choose not to have sex in public is not because it is unnatural to do so but because people in most, if not all cultures, are socially conditioned not to do so. Both Shaw and Ervine write as children of their times in this respect. Both men are projecting their own attitudes onto Eve, just as Milton did in Paradise Lost. Eve's reaction to sexual discovery is a projection of Shaw's own attitude towards sexuality. Shaw was thus predisposed to displace the sexual function, or the body (in the sense of the world, the flesh and the devil), to a secondary role and to begin the search for a philosophy that would enable him to rationalize and justify this sublimation. The sexual experience, as John G. Demeray notes, was transferred from the body to the mind, certainly a rather curious displacement. Demeray quotes Shaw's letter to Harris of 24 June 1930 wherein Shaw attributes “a celestial flood of emotion and exaltation of existence which, however momentary, gave me a sample of what may one day be the normal state of being for mankind in intellectual ecstasy. I always gave the wildest expression to this in a torrent of words.”36 Shaw, in a letter to Harris, had asserted that as an adolescent he was enamored of the Uranian or celestial Venus and that he had had no sexual experiences, aside from nocturnal emissions, until he was twenty-nine.37 This experience, when it came, must have been devastating to Shaw and the fact it brought forth "a torrent of words" seems to suggest that Shaw attempted not only to verbalize the experience but also to rationalize the experience. Shaw's tendency to rationalization shows itself in the conversion of the emotional and sexual experience into something that could be comprehended in a purely rational and intellectual mode. Shaw was to find this way of thinking about reality in the philosophy of the life force, which is expressed in Man and Superman and Back to Methusalah. William Irvine says of Shaw's relationship with Mrs. Patterson that it was: from her he first experienced the acute and oppressive sensation of being pursued by a female. Characteristically she lingered in his memory chiefly as a theory. She
Ibid., pp. 383-84. John G. Demeray, "Bernard Shaw and C. E. M. Joad: The Adventures of Two Puritans in Their Search for God," PMLA 78 (1963), p. 265. 37 Frank Harris, Bernard Shaw: An Unauthorized Biography Based on First Hand Information (Garden City: garden City Publishing Co., 1931), pp. 242-43.
36 35


Thomas E. Hart typified the Vital Woman. Julia Craven was a photograph, somewhat touched up. Ann Whitefield was a quintessential abstraction, sublimated by comedy. Jenny Patterson became an important aspect of the Life Force.38 Shaw's relationship to Mrs. Patterson apparently gave him the motivation to look for a philosophy that would reconcile the two apparently contradictory passions — the sexual urge and the rational urge. (Since Shaw considered thought a passion I have joined with him in calling it one. One might also add that the need to be rational is itself based on an irrational belief in the goodness of rationality.) Demeray calls the philosophy expressed in Back to Methusalah ""a cosmology exactly patterned after Shaw's psychological needs."39 The confusion, or displacement, of the sexual instinct is explained by Demeray as follows: Shaw associated this emotion, in a very general way, with the irrational drives discussed by Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Butler; but Shaw soon claimed that man's present orgiastic experiences might be similar to future intellectual ecstasy. Combining a Cartesian dualism with the theory of evolution, Shaw then predicted that evolution would result in the disappearance of matter—including the body—and the triumph of mind. Quite by accident, Mrs. Jenny Patterson provided Shaw with the initial experience which eventually helped to change the dramatist's view of the universe.40 This psychic displacement of the orgasmic experience to the intellectual realm represents an attempt to sublimate, direct, or repress the sexual appetite. This displacement is obviously the result of irrational psychic forces at work within Shaw since the two experiences, sex and thought, are discrete phenomena operating through separate cortical groupings. It is interesting to note that Shaw said of the intellectual experience or appetite: "This satisfaction, this pleasure, this appetite, is as yet far from being as intense as sexual orgasm or the ecstasy of a saint, though future cortical evolution may leave them far behind." (I, 750-51) The displacement is characteristic of Shaw's views throughout his life and reflects a sublimation of the sexual instincts and their redirection towards the Uranian Venus. Demeray says that: "The need of Shaw to unsex women, and indirectly the rest of mankind, is exhibited by his curious transformation of the nature and role of women in his plays,"41 and cites Candida, Ann Whitefield, Liza Doolittle, and Mrs. George (in Getting Married). Demeray says: Thus Shaw in Getting Married, removed his dream woman, the Uranian Venus, from the world of men, and in Back to Methusalah he transformed the Uranian Venus into the God-Woman Lilith. The philosophic He-Ancients are untroubled in the last cycle of Back to Methusalah because they are left in a world populated largely by She-Ancients. With the writing of Far-fetched Fables, Shaw solved sexual complications by turning both men and women into hermaphrodites.42


38 39

Irvine, p. 152 Demeray, p. 267. 40 Ibid., p. 268. 41 Ibid. 42 Ibid.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw The mechanism of sublimation thus continued to work all of Shaw's life, however, the specific cause of the displacement must remain only conjecture since we do not have the results of a Shavian psychoanalysis before us. Sublimation in the works of Shaw occupies a relatively important position in his plays, particularly his later plays such as Buoyant Billions, but it does not play a very important role in the work of some of his intellectual forebears, such as William Blake. Blake saw sex as a form of liberation from the world of experience or Ulro and as a passport to Beulah, which occupies a place roughly analogous to Purgatory, i.e., it is better than Ulro or hell but it is not the ultimate good or the highest possible place. Admittedly the sexual vision, or threefold vision, was inadequate in relation to fourfold vision, but Blake did not attempt to sublimate the sexual experience, the experience remains good in and of itself. Blake's letter to Thomas Butts summarizes the distinctions between single, double, triple, and fourfold vision: Tis fourfold in my supreme delight And threefold in soft Beulah's night And twofold Always. May God us keep From Single vision & Newton's sleep!43 Fourfold vision is the ultimate vision and belongs to the artist, in quality it seems to approach the beatific vision, i.e. one of the ultimate union with the Godhead, both fourfold vision and the beatific vision represent the greatest state of blessed perception that is is possible to achieve. Threefold vision is the vision Beulah, of paradise as perceived during the sexual experience. Twofold vision is the perception of a reality beyond the common experience while single vision is that which sees only the immediate physical facts of experience and is symbolized in Blake's drawing of The Ancient of Days which forms the frontispiece to Europe. Although Blake does not share Shaw's sexual Puritanism, he was a major influence on Shaw. Blake does not share, as we shall see, the idea of a mind-body antithesis and is in this respect at least monistic. Jenny Patterson may have furnished the psychological need for Shaw to find a cosmology to suit himself but Shaw did not derive his ideas from nothing nor did they come from "correct social practice" but from the intellectual background of the nineteenth century. William Blake as the fore runner of much of the romantic movement seems to be the logical person to examine first. William Blake's system of thought or vision may not have been known to Shaw in its entirety but Shaw did know The Marriage of Heaven and Hell well enough to refer to it in the preface to Three Plays for Puritans: A century ago William Blake was, like Dick Dudgeon, an avowed Diabolonian: he called his angels devils and his devils angels. His devil is a Redeemer. Let those who have praised my originality in conceiving Dick Dudgeon's strange religion read Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and I shall be fortunate if they do not rail me for a plagiarist. (III, l) Blake's view of the body and the mind is far from being dualistic, however. In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell he says: All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following errors: 1. That man has two real existing principles: Viz: a Body & a Soul.



Alfred Kazin, ed. The Portable Blake (New York: The Viking Press, 1965), p. 210

Thomas E. Hart 2. That Energy, call'd Evil, is alone from the body; & that Reason, call'd Good, is alone from the Soul. 3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies. But the following contraries to these are true: 1. Man has no body distinct from his Soul; for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age. 2. Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy. 3. Energy is Eternal Delight.44 Northrop Frye's comments in Fearful Symmetry on this passage are illuminating. Frye sees Blake as denying the Lockian theory of perception with its dogma of the tabula rasa. The entire basis of perception lies not in the sensory receptors such as the eye or ear but in the mind. The eye does not see: the eye is a lens for the mind to look through. Perception, then is not something we do with our senses; it is a mental act. Yet it is equally true that the legs do not walk, but that the mind walks the legs. There can be therefore no distinction between mental and bodily acts: in fact it is confusing to speak of bodily acts at all if by "body" we mean man as a perceived form. The only objection to calling digestion or sexual intercourse mental activities is a hazy association between the mind and the brain, which latter is only one organ of the mind, if mind means the acting man. It is perhaps better to use some other word. If man perceived is a form or image, man perceiving is a former or imaginer so that "imagination" is the regular term used by Blake to denote man as an acting and perceiving being. That is, a man's imagination is his life. "Mental" and "intellectual," however, are exact synonyms of "imaginative" everywhere in Blake's work.45 Mind and body then act as a unit, a gestalt, that is incapable of dissolution in the sense of separation into component elements, i.e., it is impossible to isolate faculties in the fashion of Aquinas and say that an act is due to the irascible faculty or the appetitive faculty since it is the whole man and not the isolated part which acts. Blake asserts the identity of thought and act,46 thus Frye sees the separation and compartmentalization of perception, emotion, and sexual appetite47 as erroneous, since these facts of personal existence are really inseparable from our unity as human beings, they are our Gestalt. Blake's monism is asserted even earlier than in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in All Religions are One where he asserts: That the Poetic Genius is the true Man, and that the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius. Likewise that the forms of all things are derived from their Genius, which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel & Spirit & Demon.48


Ibid., pp. 250-51. Northrop Frye, Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947), p. 19. 46 Portable Blake, p. 565. 47 Frye, p. 20. 48 The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne & The Complete Poetry of William Blake (New York: The Modern Library, 1941), p.620.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw Essentially then spirit, or the "Poetic Genius," not only permeates and animates matter, it is matter. Frye says of this: Atomism is another attempt to annihilate the perceived differences in forms by the assertion that they have all been constructed out of units of "matter." If we try to visualize a world of tiny particles all alike, we again summon up the image of a dense fog or a sandstorm which is the inevitable symbol of generalization. How could forms have been developed out of such a chaos? There is no "matter": there is a material world, but that is literally the "material" of experience and has no reality apart from the forms in which it subsides, except as an abstract idea on the same plane as that of "proportion."49 Body and mind form an indissoluble unit for Blake, and hence his thought is monistic. However, his contribution to Shaw's thought, although minimal in regards to the problem of body-mind dualism, does contribute somewhat to Shaw's vision of judgment in The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles and will be discussed later in the section on that play. The most noteworthy point to be made from these observations is that Blake apparently thought of the poetic genius as being identified with and as creating matter. As Frye points out, the fall of man, for Blake, is the creation of matter and the descent to a physical mode of existence.50 This theory of Blake's has affinities with the mind-dust theory criticized by James. Blake conceives of the poetic genius, a spiritual attribute, as in fact engendering the material world. The mind-dust theory, however, as described by James took mind and matter to be coterminous and coincident so that they are in fact identical. The mind-dust apparently has no part in the creation of matter. Now if the mind-dust permeates matter and the stars themselves are striving towards consciousness then it would appear that the mind-dust theory is essentially a monism because it sees mind and matter as sharing a common identity and not as two different and opposite kinds of things, or two different modes of being. In the insistence on one underlying principle of existence, both Blake's thought and the mind-dust theory are monisms both of which see matter as being an extension of mind or as Blake said, "the outward circumference of Energy."51 Blake's main contribution to Shaw, if indeed it is a contribution, is to be found in The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, in which Shaw suggests that everybody should be forced to justify his or her right to continued existence and if they fail to do so be liquidated. The diabolism that Shaw saw in Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and which his diabolonian hero Dick Dudgeon advocates, seems to be largely a revaluation of values, to be saying that something considered evil is good and what was formerly good is now evil. In this he is more like his own description the two types of pioneer in his The Quintessence of Ibsenism than a satanist who knowingly chooses evil as his good: The second, whose eyes are in the back of his head, is the man who declares that it is wrong to do something that no one has hitherto seen any harm in. The first, whose eyes are very longsighted and in the usual place, is the man who declares that it is right to do something hitherto regarded as infamous. The second is treated with great respect by the army. They give him testimonials; name him the Good Man; and hate him like the devil.
49 50


Frye, p. 17. Ibid., p. 41. 51 Blake, Complete Poetry, p. 652.

Thomas E. Hart The first is stoned and shrieked at by the whole army. They call him all manner of opprobrious names; grudge him his bare bread and water; and secretly adore him as their saviour from utter despair.52 Shaw associated Shelley, who was, as we shall see, a major influence on him, with the diabolonian tradition and it is with what Shelley thought about the relation of the mind to the body and ultimate goal of existence that we shall deal next. One of Shelley's earliest poems, Queen Mab, postulates the separate existence of the soul and the body. Ianthe's spirit is called forth from her body by Mab and Shelley describes it thus: Sudden arose Ianthe's Soul; it stood All beautiful in naked purity, The perfect semblance of its bodily frame. Instinct with inexpressible beauty and grace, Each stain of earthliness Had passed away, it reassumed Its native dignity, and stood Immortal amid ruin. Upon the couch the body lay Wrapped in the depth of slumber: Its features were fixed and meaningless, Yet animal life was there, And every organ yet performed Its natural functions: 'twas a sight Of wonder to behold the body and soul. The self-same lineaments, the same Marks of identity were there: Yet, oh, how different! One aspires to Heaven, Pants for its sempiternal heritage, And ever-changing, ever rising still, Wantons in endless being. The other, for a time the unwilling sport Of circumstance and passion struggles on; Fleets through its sad duration rapidly: Then, like an useless and worn out machine, Rots, perishes, and passes.53 And later hes says that: The chains of earth's immurement Fell from Ianthe's spirit They shrank and brake like bandages of straw Beneath a wakened giant's strength. She knew her glorious change, And felt in apprehension uncontrolled
Dan H. Laurence, ed., Selected Non-Dramatic Writings of Bernard Shaw (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965), p. 209. 53 Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley (New York: The Modern Library, n.d.) p. 807.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw New raptures opening round: Each day-dream of her mortal life, Each frenzied vision of the slumber That closed each well-spent day, Seemed now to meet reality.54 Shelley may have been using this merely as a dramatic device but when he revised portions of Mab and published them as The Daemon of the World he still let the spirit leave the body: It ceased, and from the mute and moveless frame A radiant spirit arose, All beautiful in naked purity. Robed in its human hues it did ascend, Disparting as it went the silver clouds, It moved toward the car, and took its seat Beside the Daemon shape.55 To Joseph Barrell, whose Shelley and the Thought of His Time provides an analysis of Shelley's relation to the eighteenth century philosophes and to the Greek revival, this is an emotionalist Rousseauistic position.56 Shelley may advocate the separate existence of the soul and its immortality but he is, for awhile at least, on the side of the intellectualists such as Condorcet and D'Holbach. It is interesting that though Shelley in the opening of Queen Mab accepts the notion of the universe being governed by necessity he ultimately replaces it by the rule of benevolence> He also rejects D'Holbach's unitary and materialistic concept of thought. To D'Holbach thought, or consciousness, is simply an effect of the same molecular motion that underlies all the processes of life. The soul as a separate substance is merely a figment of the imagination, and its freedom, the figment of a figment. D'Holbach writes of consciousness, "It is the result of a disposition or combination peculiar to living beings, in virtue of which a lifeless and insentient matter ceases to be lifeless and obtains the capacity of feeling by being taken up into the living being. This is what happens to milk, bread, and wine, when these are taken up into the human system."57 D'Holbach, of course, does not offer an explanation of how consciousness arose in the first place. Consciousness is simply the result molecular motion, a motion that is apparently eternal. Queen Mab, however, is not a materialist poem, Shelley's description of Mab's car recognizes the existence of that "very substance which Lamettrie, D'Holbach, and the other materialists had denied."58 The broad and yellow moon Shone dimly through her form— That form of faultless symmetry;
Ibid., p. 808 Ibid., p. 22. 56 Joseph Barrell, Shelley and the Thought of His Time: A Study in the History of Ideas (New Haven: Yale University Prss, 1947), pp. 64-66. 57 Ibid., p. 40. 58 Ibid., p.65.
55 54


Thomas E. Hart The pearly and pellucid car Moved not the moonlight's line: 'Twas not an earthly pageant.59 The fact that the soul "wantons in endless being" is described, by Barrell as "the position of the emotionalist Rousseau."60 Barrell described Queen Mab as "a strange mixture of humanitarianism and science, of intellectualism and emotionalism, of D'Holbach and Rousseau: and that these elements have been relatively unthought out, and are being set down on paper in a man's first expression."61 Shelley, according to Barrell, did not fully resolve his philosophical confusion until he began, under the influence of Peacock, reading Plato.62 James A. Notopoulos' The Platonism of Shelley provides perhaps the clearest and certainly the most detailed, study of Shelley and Plato. Notopoulos contends that there are three types of Platonism, natural, direct, and indirect Platonism, the indirect Platonism being the writers in the Platonic tradition such as Cicero, Ficino, and others, on down to Shelley.63 Notopoulos notes that Shelley's poem Hellas has made use of the Platonic concept of the soul that immerses itself in matter.64 Worlds on worlds are rolling ever From creation to decay, Like the bubbles on a river Sparkling, bursting, borne away. But they are still immortal Who, through birth's orient portal And death's dark chasm hurrying to and fro, Clothe their unceasing flight In the brief dust and light Gathered around their chariots as they go; New shapes they still may weave, New gods, new laws receive, Bright or dim are they as the robes they last On Death's bare ribs had cast.65 Shelley himself had called attention to this in a note on the chorus: "The first stanza contrasts the immortality of the living and thinking beings which inhabit the planets, and to use a common and inadequate phrase, clothe themselves in matter, with the transience of the noblest manifestations of the external world."66 In his fragment "On Life" Shelley explicitly denies the materialism of the French philosophes, such as D'Holbach, and affirms the existence of a spiritual component.
Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley, p. 806. Barrell, p. 66. 61 Ibid., p. 73. 62 Ibid., p. 79. 63 James A. Notopoulos, The Platonism of Shelley: A Study of Platonism and the Poetic Mind (Durham: Duke University Press, 1949) , p. 3. 64 Ibid., pp. 303-04. 65 Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley, p. 512 66 Ibid., p. 535.
60 59


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw The shocking absurdities of the popular philosophy of mind and matter, its fatal consequences in morals, and their violent dogmatism concerning the source of all things, had early conducted me to materialism. This materialism is a seducing system to young and superficial minds. It allows its disciple to talk, and dispenses them from thinking. But I was discontented with such a view of things as it afforded; man is a being of high aspirations, "looking both before and after," whose "thoughts wander through eternity," disclaiming alliance with transience and decay; incapable of imagining to himself annihilation; existing but in the future and the past; being, not what he is, but what he has been and shall be. Whatever may be his true and final destination, there is a spirit within him at enmity with nothingness and dissolution. This is the character of all life and being. Each is at once the centre and the circumference; the point to which all things are referred, and the line in which all things are contained. Such contemplations as these, materialism and the popular philosophy of mind and matter alike forbid; they are only consistent with the intellectual system.67 Shelley has also denied the popular conception of mind and matter as opposed principles so that what he apparently envisions is a monistic system. Barrell comments on this in connection with Adonais: We are told, to begin with, that the pure spirit will flow back to the burning fountain whence it came; that it is a portion of the Eternal, and hence will glow through time and change, unquenchably the same (stanza 38). Again we are informed that Keats has been made one with Nature. His voice is now to be heard in the thunder and in the song of the nightingale. He is to be felt in darkness and in light, in herb and in stone, wherever the Power that has withdrawn him to itself moves in its never-wearied attentions of love and care (stanza 42). He is a portion of the loveliness he once made more lovely. He now bears his part in that one creative Spirit which sweeps through the sense world, supplying the forms of existence, torturing matter into that especial aspect of itself which each concrete particular wears, and ascending through trees and beasts and men to self-consciousness (stanza 43). To all this there is an unmistakably monistic cast.68 The phrase "unwilling dross," however, suggests Lilith's statement in Back to Methusalah that matter is life's enemy and that life forced matter to become its slave. (II, 261) Alternatively it may suggest that life is the one reality and matter an epiphenomenon dragged along by life. Barrell notes the apparent contradiction between life and the "unwilling dross," which he sees as a dualistic formulation and comments: True, it is not explained whence the "unwilling dross" comes. Nor is the nature stated of what is thus tortured into an evidently unwilling resemblance of the divine idea. the dull sense world is incontrovertibly stumbled over, and in stumbling over it, Shelley is incontrovertibly Greek. For the Greeks never succeeded in explaining matter away. the best they could do was to explain spirit away and incorporate it in the material whole. In this neglected but nevertheless unresolved dualism, Shelley is Platonic with Plato, Greek with the Greeks.69
Kenneth Neill Cameron, ed., Percy Bysshe Shelley: Selected Poetry and Prose (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1951), p.219. 68 Barrell, p. 173. 69 Ibid., pp. 173-74.


Thomas E. Hart The return of the individual soul to the world soul is, as Barrell notes, An oriental idea and not a Greek idea. "This, of course, is perfectly in line with monistic thinking. For, if the individual is reabsorbed into the Absolute, he inherits everything and is everything."70 Shelley has in stanzas 39-41 of his poem asserted the unreality of the material world and the reality of the spiritual world, an idea that: occurs most frequently perhaps, among the Orientals, but is almost as commonly met with in Christian writings. In fact, when one thinks of Plato and Berkeley and Immanuel Kant, one perceives that the doctrine is confined to no class of human beings. It is evidently a point of view quite native to the human species and, as an idea, is far more common than the idea of monism.71 Shelley's poem, when analyzed in terms of dualism or monism, is confused but the confusion is an attempt to link the spiritual, Oriental monism of his thinking with the un-Oriental, unmonistic way of his exposition, it is clear that we have in its essence one aspect of the whole Romantic Movement. this aspect is indeed no other than the peculiar Romantic desire to link the transcendental with the earthly.72 In his later poems, Hellas and The Triumph of Life, Shelley appears to be developing in the direction a spiritual monism after having begun, with Queen Mab, as a dualist. Barrell contends that Shelley was close in thought to, but not influenced, by the German idealist philosophers and describes their resolution of the problem. Confronted with much the same difficulty, they gave up the notion of subject and object, so that the vision itself becomes the world. We do not see a vision; the vision includes us. The individual (legs, arms, feelings, memories) becomes part of a vast, spiritual pageant. In fact, strictly speaking, the world is no longer a vision, no longer a function of the subject, but subject itself, dynamically evolving, and as it evolves giving rise to the individual who, as Hegel made clear, is never seen anyway except in the middle of a panorama.73 Shelley's poetry, as he matured, seems to represent an abandonment of the intellectualist position of Plato and D'Holbach as well as an abandonment of a materialist conception of the world in favor of a vision of the world as mere Vorstellung or idea rather than concrete matter. Shelley's poetry then represents a movement away from dualism to monism where a subject-object, mind-matter relationship no longer exist. Shelley was, however, an emotionalist and rather than postulating with Plato a pluralistic world of ideas, he postulates the ultimate union of the One with the Many.74 Notopoulos, however, sees the union of the One and the many in Adonais as being a product of the "the Plotinian theory of emanation."75 The stanza of Adonais (number LII) that Barrell had seen as un-Platonic is for Notopoulos: One of the loveliest expressions of the Quintessence of Platonism in English poetry.
70 71


Ibid., p. 174. Ibid., p. 176. 72 Ibid., p. 178 73 Ibid., p. 188. 74 Ibid., p. 181. 75 Notopoulos, p. 292.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw
Αστγε ποιν µεν ελαµπεσ ενι ζωοισιν νυν δε θανων λαµπεισ εσπεροσ φθιπενοισ

Plato76 Where Barrell sees divergence from Plato Notopoulos sees adherence to the Platonic tradition as witness his comments on lines 379-87 of Adonais, which have already been referred to in connection with the "unwilling dross" of matter.77 The Platonism in these lines is an echo of the Platonic tradition rather than of Plato himself....This conception of the elements being merely affections of space produced by the impression of Platonic forms was fused in the Platonic tradition with the Lucretian daedala tellus, the artificer earth, and appears in Cudworth's treatise The True Intellectual System of the Universe as Plastic Nature, which orders and disposes the world, permeating and molding it, even down to the lowest animals and plants. In describing the relation of Plastic Nature to God, Cudworth says it has "a certain dull and obscure idea of that which it stamps and prints upon matter." this notion was taken up by philosophy and poetry and appears in attractive form in a considerable number of Shelley's readings (vide supra, pp. 116, 120, 157, 160). In particular it appears along with the Platonic conception that mind pervades and animates the whole universe in Lord Monboddo's Antient Metaphysics, which Shelley read in in 1820 (see Vol. I, Book II, chaps, vi, xvii). Furthermore, Wordsworth and Coleridge gave beautiful poetic expression to Plastic Nature, and a comparison of Shelley's lines in Adonais with their versions of this doctrine makes it likely that Shelley absorbed this poetical idea from his contemporary poets whom he read and admired. Shelley therefore refracts the Platonism of these lines, not from Plato himself, even though he had read the Timaeus and summary of it in 1818, but from the Platonic tradition.78 This is undoubtedly true, but Notopoulos' orientation is that of a classicist who is looking for Platonism and tradition in Shelley and while it may be Platonism it shows a rejection of the material toward psychological idealism. Notopoulos has apparently overlooked the fact that Shelley does not explain how the "unwilling dross" came into existence in the first place. Whereas Barrell attempts to show the relation of Shelley's philosophical thought to that of his age, Notopoulos is content to merely place it in a long line of Platonically inspired authors. In its essentials, however, Shelley's thought was first influenced by the French philosophes. Such philosophes as D'Holbach and Condorcet exerted an influence in the direction of intellectualism, necessitarianism and materialism. Rousseau exerted an influence in the direction emotionalism, voluntarism and spiritualism. Shelley's early poetry, such as Queen Mab, exhibits this conflict and presents a dualistic view of the world. As Shelley matured he moved, under the influence of Plato, in the direction of monism and seemed to be moving in the direction that the German idealists, such as Fichte, were going.



Ibid. Shelley translates this as follows: Thou wert the morning star among the living Ere they fair light had fled;-Now, having died, thou art as Hesperus, giving New splendour to the dead. 77 See page 18 above. 78 Notopoulos, pp. 296-97.

Thomas E. Hart Shelley's influence on Shaw, however, remains to be determined. What was the extent of Shaw's reading of Shelley and how much of the influence is perceptible in Shaw's writings? Shaw, as is well known, became a vegetarian because of Shelley and in writing the preface to Heartbreak House criticized those who became vegetarian because of a "bogeyman called uric acid" instead of converting on "valid Shelleyan grounds." (I, 455) Earlier than Heartbreak House, however, attention had been called to the fact that Shelley had converted Shaw to vegetarianism. In an interview for Frank Harris Candid Friend, Shaw says: I was a cannibal for twenty-five years; for the other twenty I have been a vegetarian. Shelley first opened my eyes to the infamy of my habits; but it was not until 1880 or thereabouts that the establishment of vegetarian restaurants made reform practicable without disastrous private experiments.79 Shaw says that Shelley "is still making men and women join political societies, Secular societies, Vegetarian societies, societies for the loosening of the marriage contract, and Humanitarian societies of all sorts."80 Ronald A. Duerksen in his article, "Shelley and Shaw,"81 gives a detailed examination of the literary relationship between the two men and he concludes that Shelley prepared the way for the influence of Ibsen and Wagner on Shaw. Unfortunately, for our purposes, Duerksen's article is concerned mainly with the political influence of Shelley on Shaw. Duerksen also contends that Shaw took over much of his philosophy from Shelley, which is true as far as political philosophy and ideal utopias are concerned, e.g., the ideal communities of Queen Mab and As Far As Thought Can Reach in Back to Methusalah. In both utopias the climate is perfect, food is either vegetarian or completely assimilated, and peace, prosperity, and happiness in the pursuit of feeling, as in Shelley, or of thought, as in Shaw, is rampant. Shaw has not, however, taken over the monism that was beginning to develop in Shelley's poetry, instead he seems to have been influenced by the earlier dualism of Queen Mab. The influence of Shelley's early poetry undoubtedly left Shaw predisposed to the influence of other philosophers and poets who were dualistic in seeing existence as a conflict between life, or spirit, and matter. Blake and Shelley gave poetic expression to their philosophies but were not academic philosophers as Kant, Hegel and Fichte were. It seems only natural that when Shaw cited those whose Weltanschauung resembled his he should have included two men who were, like him, non-academic philosophers, Schopenhauer, who quit teaching after one term, and Nietzsche, a philologist. Schopenhauer's doctrine of will, the reality of the world, and the purpose or direction of the will and his concept of the relationship between body and mind are what we are primarily concerned with in this section. Schopenhauer denied what Descartes had asserted, that man's essence consisted in thinking and the body was an "extended material object" to which the mind was related only contingently.82 Schopenhauer, on the contrary, presents the notion that we are really will and our bodies are an objectification of that will.83 Schopenhauer may have been unaware of Blake's All Religions are One, Blake was most certainly unaware of Schopenhauer, who was
79 80 82 83


Laurence, p. 453. Ibid., p. 321. 81 Ronald A. Duerksen, "Shelley and Shaw," PMLA, 78 (1963), pp. 114-27. Patrick L. Gardiner, Schopenhauer (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1963), pp. 144-45. Ibid., p. 150.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw two years old when Blake wrote "That the Poetic Genius is the true Man and that the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius. Likewise that the forms of all things are derived from their Genius which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel & Spirit & Demon."84 For two authors of such widely differing temperaments to see the body as a manifestation of Poetic Genius as in the case of Blake, or Wille as in the case of Schopenhauer, is striking enough but that they should both appear to mean by Poetic Genius and Wille passion and the irrational drives is what is most interesting. Schopenhauer defines the will as: not merely willing and purposing in the narrowest sense, but also all striving, wishing, shunning, hoping, fearing, loving, hating, in short, all that directly constitutes our own weal and woe, desire and aversion, is clearly only affection of the will, is an excitation, a modification, of willing and non-willing, is just that which, if it takes outward effect, exhibits itself as an act of will proper.85 Schopenhauer then is rejecting the Cartesian mind-body split by seeing the body as an objectification of the will but we do not as yet see how the will creates the world and what the ultimate teleological purpose of the the will and what the will itself is. The will is not the wille zur macht or will to power of Nietzsche. Nor is it right to speak of will as a cause, e.g., of its causing bodily behavior: Schopenhauer's doctrine that an act of will and a corresponding movement of the body are not two distinct events, but the same event considered under different aspects, rules out the application of causal terminology here. Thus on Schopenhauer's account of the 'thing-in-itself' there is no problem to be face concerning the justification of extending the causal principle beyond the sphere of perceptible phenomena, for the will is not such that it does or could function as the cause of such phenomena — its relation to them is of quite another kind.86 The will, as Schopenhauer uses the term, is the irrational, the appetites and passions; primarily, however, it seems to be the will to live, to exist. Schopenhauer, however, sought nirvana, the abolition or extinction of consciousness and and of will, rather than the intensification of consciousness and will. As Patrick Gardiner points out: In a section of book On the Will in Nature, called 'Sinology', Schopenhauer noted astonishment, the shocked bafflement even, with which recent travellers in Asia had reacted to this aspect of Eastern thinking and teaching; the very words with which to explain certain basic tenets of the accepted Christian faith seemed to be lacking in the languages of many of those to whom they spoke, and he cites a German sinologist, Neumann, as having said that such concepts as God, soul, and spirit, regarded as 'independent of matter and ruling it' were quite absent from Chinese thought, with the consequence that 'the first verse of the book of Genesis cannot without considerable circumlocution be translated into proper Chinese'. To Schopenhauer himself, on the other hand, it appeared to be a merit rather than a defect of the Buddhist faith that it preserved a 'noble silence' about matters such as these: it was to be commended, not condemned, for putting forward a doctrine of ethics and salvation
84 85


Portable Blake, p. 79. Gardiner, p. 151. 86 Ibid., pp. 60-61.

Thomas E. Hart which in no way involved the conception of necessary submission to the commands and prescriptions of an all-powerful God, and which treated the desire for immortality in the sense of separate personal continuance after death as a plain manifestation of that pervasive 'clinging to individuality' that has its practical counterpart in egoistic behaviour and must be wholly overcome. For the goal of orthodox Buddhism is not the continued affirmation and maintenance of the personal self, in whatever form, but instead its total dissolution in Nirvana (actually meaning 'waning away').87 Schopenhauer, being under the influence of the Vedantic and Buddhist philosophies, saw nirvana as a turning away from and a rejection of life, when as Gardiner says: he recognizes in all beings 'his inmost and true self', and consequently they lie 'just as near to him as his own person alone lies to the egoist'; he is therefore to be found directing himself towards assuaging the pain of those about him to the best of his ability. But a further stage is reached when this knowledge which the virtuous man has of 'the whole', of the true nature of world, becomes 'the quieter of all and every willing', and when the thought of affirming life in any way becomes objectionable in itself. 'The will now turns away from life' and 'shudders at the pleasures in which it recognizes the affirmation of life'; thus it happens that a man may arrive at a state which is described as one involving 'voluntary renunciation, resignation, true composure, and total will-lessness' (I, 489-90).88 However, this denial of will is the very antithesis of everything Shaw wrote about he will. To see the purpose of life as being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. And also the only real tragedy in life is the being used by personally minded men for purpose which you recognized to be base. (III, 510-511) is a far cry from the "voluntary renunciation, resignation, true composure, and total willlessness" of Schopenhauer. So the question is what use did Shaw make of Schopenhauer? In the preface to Three Plays for Puritans Shaw describes his critics in these terms: As to philosophy, I taught my critics the little they know in my Quintessence of Ibsenism; and now they turn their guns— the guns I loaded for them—on me, and proclaim that I write as if mankind had intellect without will, or heart, as they call it. Ingrates: who was it that directed your attention to the distinction between Will and Intellect? Not Schopenhauer, I think, but Shaw. (III, xlvi) The use that Shaw makes of Schopenhauer in The Quintessence of Ibsenism (written 1890) is mainly to distinguish between the will, or the irrational forces at work in man and the universe, and the intellect: In our own century the recognition of the will as distinct from the reasoning machinery began to spread. Schopenhauer was the first among the moderns to appreciate the enormous practical importance of the distinction, and to make it clear to amateur metaphysicians by concrete instances. Out of his teaching came the formulation of the dilemma that Voltaire shut his eyes to. Here it is. Rationally
87 88


Ibid., p. 295. Ibid., pp. 284-85.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw considered, life is only worth living when its pleasures are greater than its pains. Now to a generation which has ceased to believe in heaven, and has not yet learned that the degradation by poverty of four out of every five of its number is artificial and remediable, the fact that life is not worth living is obvious. It is useless to pretend that the pessimism of Koheleth, Shakspere, Dryden, and Swift can be refuted if the world progresses solely by the destruction of the unfit, and yet can only maintain its civilization by manufacturing the unfit in swarms of which tat appalling proportion of four to one represents but the comparatively fit survivors. Plainly then, the reasonable thing for the rationalists to do is to refuse to live. But as none of them will commit suicide in obedience to this demonstration of "the necessity" for it, there is an end of the notion that we live for reasons instead of in fulfillment of our will to live. Thus we are landed afresh in mystery; for positive science gives no account whatever of this will to live.89 and in a long footnote Shaw explains what he means by the moderns: I say the moderns, because the will is our old friend the soul or spirit of man; and the doctrine of justification, not by works, but by faith, clearly derives its validity from the consideration that no action, taken apart from the will behind it, has any moral character: for example, the acts which make the murderer and the incendiary infamous are exactly similar to those which make the patriotic hero famous. "Original sin" is the will doing mischief. "Divine grace" is the will doing good. Our fathers, unversed in the Hegelian dialectic, could not conceive that these two, each the negation of the other, were the same. Schopenhauer's philosophy, like that of all pessimists, is really based on the old view of the will as original sin, and on the 17501850 view that the intellect is the divine grace that is to save us from it. It is as well to warn those who fancy that Schopenhauerism is one and indivisible, that acceptance of its metaphysics by no means involves endorsement of its philosophy.90 Here one is almost tempted to exclaim with Byron, "I wish he would explain his explanation," since how Shaw distinguishes between Schopenhauer's metaphysics and his philosophy is unclear. When Shaw says that the will is identical with the soul or Spirit of Man he is presumably saying that the will is identical in its generic form, and not in its specific or individual form although his language might lead one to believe that the universal will is identical with the individual soul. As to the identification of "original sin" with the Schopenhauerian will, what Shaw seems to be driving at is that both of these are sources of guilt that require redemption. Original sin must be escaped through the Redemption while the Schopenhauerian will must be escaped through Nirvana. finally he may be saying that the premises of Schopenhauer can be accepted and his conclusion, the necessity of Nirvana or of escaping the will, can be rejected. Here Shaw is rejecting the wholly intellectual live and agreeing with Schopenhauer that it is the irrational will that drives man. Later, as we have seen, Shaw was to say that intellect itself was a passion thereby forming a Shavian synthesis out of the traditional thesis and antithesis. Shaw's plays and prefaces mention Schopenhauer several times (references occur in Man and Superman, Major Barbara, Fanny's First Play, Misalliance, Back to Methusalah, Geneva, and John Bull's Other Island) but most of these references are mere throwaways intended to link
89 90


Laurence, pp. 214-15. Ibid., p. 214.

Thomas E. Hart Schopenhauer with pessimism or else occur in a list of names as in the one in Man and Superman.91 In Major Barbara, however, Shaw does describe Schopenhauer's influence on him: Another mistake as to my literary ancestry is made whenever I violate the romantic convention that all women are angels when they are not devils; that they are better looking than men; that their part in courtship is entirely passive; and that the human female form is the most beautiful object in nature. Schopenhauer wrote a splenetic essay, which, as it is neither polite nor profound, was probably intended to knock this nonsense violently on the head. A sentence denouncing the idolized form as ugly has been largely quoted. The English critics have read that sentence; and I must here affirm, with as much gentleness as the implication will bear, that it has yet to be proved that they have dipped any deeper. At all events, whenever an English playwright represents a young and marriageable woman as being anything but a romantic heroine, he is disposed of without further thought as an echo of Schopenhauer. My own case is an especially hard one, because, when I implore the critics who are obsessed with the Schopenhauerian formula to remember that playwrights, like sculptors, study their figures from life, and not from philosophic essays, they reply passionately that I am not a playwright and that my stage figures do not live. But even so, I may and do ask them why, if they must give the credit of my plays to a philosopher, the do not give it to an English philosopher? Long before I ever read a word by Schopenhauer I, or even knew whether he was a philosopher or a chemist, the Socialist revival of the eighteen-eighties brought me into contact, both literary and personal, with Ernest Belfort Bax, an English Socialist and philosophic essayist and philosophical essayist, whose handling of modern feminism would provoke romantic protests from Schopenhauer himself, or even Strindberg. As a matter of fact I hardly noticed Schopenhauer's disparagements of women when they came under my notice later on, so thoroughly had Bax familiarized me with the homoist attitude, and forced me to recognize the extent to which public opinion, and consequently legislation and jurisprudence, is corrupted by feminist sentiment. (I, 301-02) The sentence on the female form that Shaw is referring to comes from Parerga and Paralipomena and reads: It is only the man whose intellect is clouded by his sexual impulses that could give the name of the fair sex to that undersized, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-legged race: for the whole beauty of the sex is bound up with this impulse.92 Shaw is referring obviously to Schopenhauer's misogynism and denying that Schopenhauer influenced him in this respect. He is supported in his denial by Kate Millet in Sexual Politics, who referred to Shaw along with Ibsen, as a feminist revolutionary, an accolade Schopenhauer could not possibly receive.93 Schopenhauer's influence on Shaw is apparent in their treatment of love and the divergence is equally apparent in their ideas about women. Schopenhauer say of women: Nature has appointed theat the propagation of the species shall be the business of men who are young, strong and handsome; so that the race may not degenerate. This
91 92


See page 10 above. DeWitt H. Parker, ed., Schopenhauer Selections (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1956), p. 441. 93 Kate Millet, Sexual Politics (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1970) p. 151.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw is the firm will and purpose of Nature in regard to the species, and it finds its expression in the passions of women. There is no law that is older or more powerful than this. woe, then, the man who sets up claims and interests that will conflict with it; whatever he may say and do, they will be unmercifully crushed at the first serious encounter. For the innate rule that governs women's conduct, though it is secret and unformulated is this: We are justified in deceiving those who think they have acquired rights over the species by paying little attention to the individual, that is, to us. The constitution and, therefore, the welfare of the species have been placed in our hands, and committed to our care, through the control we obtain over the next generation, which proceeds from us; let us discharge our duties conscientiously.... And since women exist in the main solely for the propagation of the species, and are not destined for anything else, they live, as a rule, more for the species than for the individual, and in their hearts take the affairs of the species more seriously than those of the individual. This gives their whole life and being a certain levity; the general bent of their character is in a direction fundamentally different from that of man; and it is this which produces that discord in married life which is frequent, and almost the normal state.94 When this is compared with some of Shaw's statements we can see quite clearly Schopenhauer's influence on Shaw and Shaw's divergence from Schopenhauer. The Don Juan play, however, is to deal with sexual attraction, and not with nutrition, and to deal with it in a society in which the serious business of sex is left by men to women, as the serious business of nutrition is left by women to men. That the men, to protect themselves against a too aggressive prosecution of the women's business, have set up a feeble romantic convention that the initiative in sex business must always come from the man, is true; but the pretence is so shallow that even in the theatre, that last sanctuary of unreality, it imposes only on the inexperienced. In Shakespeare's plays the woman always takes the initiative. In his problem plays and his popular plays alike the love interest is the interest of seeing the woman hunt the man down. She may do it by charming him, like Rosalind, or by stratagem, like Mariana; but in every case the relation between the woman and the man is the same: she is the pursuer and contriver, he is the pursued and disposed of. When she is baffled, like Ophelia, she goes mad and commits suicide; and the man goes straight from her funeral to a fencing match. No doubt Nature, with very young creatures, may save the woman the trouble of scheming: Prospero knows that he has only to throw Ferdinand and Miranda together and they will mate like a pair of doves; and there is no need for Perdita to capture Florizel as the lady doctor in All's Well That Ends Well (an early Ibsenite heroine) captures Bertram. But the mature cases all illustrate the Shakespearian law. (III, 495-96) Among the friends to whom I have read this play in manuscript are some of our own sex who are shocked at the "unscrupulousness," meaning the utter disregard of masculine fastidiousness, with which the woman pursues her purpose. It does not occur to them that if women were as fastidious as men, morally or physically, there would be



Parker, pp. 439-40.

Thomas E. Hart an end of the race. Is there anything meaner than to throw necessary work upon other people and then disparage it as unworthy and indelicate. (III, 497) Women must marry because the race must perish without her travail: if the risk of death and the certainty of pain, danger, and unutterable discomforts cannot deter her, slavery and swaddled ankles will not. And yet we assume that the force that carries women through all these perils and hardships, stops abashed before the primnesses of of our behavior for young ladies. It is assumed that the the woman must wait, motionless, until she is wooed. Nay, she often does wait motionless. That is how the spider waits for the fly. But the spider spins her web. And if the fly, like my hero, shews a strength that promises to extricate him, how swiftly does she abandon her pretence of passiveness, and openly fling coil after coil about him until he is secured for ever! (III, 498) To a woman, Señora, man's duties and responsibilities begin and end with the task of getting bread for her children. To her, Man is only a means to the end of getting children and rearing them. (III, 624) The sum of the matter is that unless Woman repudiates her Womanliness, her duty to her husband, to her children, to society, to the law, and to everyone but herself, she cannot emancipate herself. But her duty to herself is no duty at all, since a debt is cancelled when the debtor and creditor are the same person. Its payment is simply a fulfillment of the individual will, upon which all duty is a restriction, founded on the conception of the will as naturally malign and devilish. Therefore Woman has to repudiate duty altogether. In that repudiation lies her freedom; for it is false to say that Woman is now directly the slave of Man: she is the immediate slave of duty; and as man's path to freedom is strewn with the wreckage of the duties and ideals he has trampled on, so must hers be.95 It should now be apparent why Kate Millet called Shaw a sexual revolutionary. Anna's comment that it is "cynical and disgusting animalism" may be Shaw's comment on Schopenhauer's belief that it was precisely this attitude that was "a woman's whole mind". Shaw agrees with Schopenhauer that sexual function and initiative is woman's, as becomes apparent when the snake in Back to Methusalah whispers the secret of procreation to Eve and not to Adam, but Shaw does not say that this is woman's sole function. Indeed in other plays and books such as Getting Married, The Apple Cart and The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism, he goes on to justify his acclamation as a sexual revolutionary. Neither does Shaw say that procreation is the sole purpose of marriage, only that it is the primary purpose. In his reading of Schopenhauer's philosophy, Shaw seems to have accepted the notion of will as an irrational force making itself manifest in the world and to have accepted the idea that woman is the initiator, or at least the inspirer of sexual activity. He has, however, rejected Schopenhauer's pessimism, that the will is evil and must be subjugated. Schopenhauer's philosophy, however, sees body and mind as unitary, the body being an



Laurence, pp. 229-30.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw objectification of the will, and so we must continue to look for other sources or re-inforcements for Shaw's dualist view of the nature of man. The most logical choice to examine next is Nietzsche, whose doctrine of the Übermensch would seem to be the most obvious source for Shaw's apparently analogous concept of the Superman. In his doctrine of the will to power he aligned himself with those who saw the non-rational forces at work in the human psyche and the world as predominant, such as Schopenhauer, Butler, Bergson and others who shared this viewpoint. Finally his reaction to Darwinism may shed some light on Shaw's own development. To take the last question first, what were Nietzsche's views on Darwinism? R. J. Hollingdale in his book, Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy, discusses Nietzsche's relationship to Darwin. Hollingdale sees Nietzsche as being opposed to Darwinism and attempting to answer the challenge of British nihilism as Kant had done previously. The adversary this time was Charles Darwin, in whose name the theory of evolution had become victorious. It is unnecessary to stress that before Darwin evolution was one of a number of theories concerning the genesis of the human race, while after Darwin it appeared to be the proved theory. The philosophical crisis produced by Darwin was essentially the crisis of evolution, which became a pressing 'problem' only after he had shown, by his hypothesis of of natural selection, that there existed a mechanism through which it could actually have taken place. Nietzsche accepted the fundamental implication of Darwin's hypothesis, namely that mankind had evolved from the animals in a purely naturalistic way through chance and accident: there appeared to be purpose in evolution, but Darwin had shown that the higher animals and man could have evolved in just the way they did entirely by fortuitous variations in individuals. Natural selection was for Nietzsche essentially evolution freed from every metaphysical implication: before Darwin's simple but fundamental discovery it had been difficult to deny that the world seemed to be following some course laid down by a directing agency; after it, the necessity for such a directing agency disappeared, and what seemed to be order could be explained as random change. 'The total nature of the world,' Nietzsche wrote in Die fröhlich Wissenschaft, ' all eternity chaos' (FW 109), and this thought, absolutely basic to his philosophy arose directly from his interpretation of Darwin.96 Nietzsche then is totally rejecting any notion of a being or purpose behind existence, man is totally freed from any concept of a higher being or purpose to which he must respond. Any metaphysical postulate about the nature of the world was an idea arising from the the mid of the perceiver rather than some noumenal reality (the thing-in-itself) epiphanizing itself by flashes of intuition. Whatever came into the mind was an 'idea'; consequently the thing-in-itself was an idea, the will was an idea, the whole metaphysical world was an idea. This attitude Nietzsche accepted. The phenomenal world was the only world, men could not possibly 'get in touch' with a supersensible reality. If the fact of evolution seemed to suggest the operation of an outside force upon the mundane world, Darwin had shown that


R. J. Hollingdale, Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965), pp. 88-89.


Thomas E. Hart here, too, the hypothesis of a directing agency was not needed to account for the observed phenomena.97 Nietzsche, according to Hollingdale, believed: "that evolution presented a correct picture of the world, but that it was disastrous picture. His philosophy was an attempt to produce a new world-picture which took Darwinism into account but was not nullified by it."98 In commenting on the first of the Untimely Meditations, about David Strauss and Darwinism, Hollingdale comments: Strauss had accepted a world of bellum omnium contra omnes, but was unable to explain how the characteristic qualities of humanity could have arisen in such a world, or how ethics are at all possible in a post-Darwinian universe: Strauss has not yet even learned that no idea can ever make men better or more moral, and that preaching morals is as easy as finding grounds for them is difficult; his task was much rather to take the phenomena of human goodness, compassion, love and self-abnegation, which do in fact exist, and derive and explain them from his Darwinist pre-suppositions...(UI 7) The distinction between Nietzsche and a rationalist of the type of Strauss is therefore clear: Strauss found the tenets of religion no longer credible, and believed that Darwin had demonstrated the truth of the evolution hypothesis, but continued to think and act as if nothing else had changed; but Nietzsche, when he arrived at the same conclusions, grasped the fact that everything else had changed, that the universe had ceased to possess any meaningful reality.99 In Der Wille Zur Macht or Will to Power (aphorism 685) Nietzsche gives his position: Anti-Darwin.— What surprises me most when I survey the broad destinies of man is that I always see before men the opposite of that which Darwin and his school want to see today: selection in favor of the stronger, better-constituted and the progress of the species. Precisely the opposite is palpable: the elimination of the lucky strokes, the uselessness of the more highly developed types, the inevitable dominion of the average, even the sub-average types. If we are not shown why man should be an exception among creatures, I incline to the prejudice that the school of Darwin has been deluded everywhere. That will to power in which I recognize the ultimate ground and character of all change provides us with the reason why selection is not in favor of the exceptions and lucky strokes: the strongest and most fortunate are weak when opposed by organized herd instincts, by the timidity of the weak, by the vast majority. Ny general view of the world of values shows that it is not the lucky strokes, the select types, that have the upper hand in the supreme values that are today placed over mankind; rather it is the decadent types — perhaps there is nothing in the world more interesting than this unwelcome spectacle— Strange though it may sound, one always has to defend the strong against the weak; the fortunate against the unfortunate; the healthy against those degenerating and afflicted with hereditary taints. If one translates reality into a morality, this morality is: the mediocre are worth more than the exception; the decadent forms more than the
97 98


Ibid., p. 89. Ibid., p. 90. 99 Ibid., p. 122.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw mediocre; the will to nothingness has the upper hand over the will to life — and the overall aim is, in Christian, Buddhist, Schopenhauerian terms: "better not to be than to be." I rebel against the translation of reality into a morality: therefore I abhor Christianity with a deadly hatred, because it created sublime words and gestures to throw a cloak of a horrible reality the cloak of justice, virtue, and divinity—100 Walter Kaufmann comments on this note and on Aphorism 684: This is hardly Nietzsche's considered position. It seems to be at odds with earlier notes about "breeding," and one may wonder whether the formulation "Man as a species does not represent any progress compared to any other animal" is — in this form — compatible with Nietzsche's central conclusion that value is measured objectively "by the quantum of increased and organized power." (WM 674 — in 1888 — et passim) Of course, such notes represent no more than drafts for a statement which was probably intended to obviate misconstructions of the overman. Man — even the mediocre specimen — is in a sense more powerful than other species; but Nietzsche has little thought of power over others, and mankind as a whole does not represent to his mind an advance over other animals, any more than reptiles seem to him "superior" to fish. What he has in mind is the "lucky accidents" — Socrates or Caesar, Leonardo or Goethe: men whose "power" gives them no advantage in any "struggle for existence" — men who, even if they outlive Mozart, Keats, or Shelley, either leave no children, or in any case no heirs. Yet these men represent the "power" for which all beings strive — for the basic drive says Nietzsche, is not the will to preserve life but the will to power — and it should be clear how remote Nietzsche's "power" is from Darwin's "fitness." Moreover, the sharp antithesis of these notes underline the fact that Nietzsche's dual vision of overman and recurrence glorifies the moment — "all simultaneously" — and not progress.101 The basic inferiority of the mass of mankind to its highest individuals is due primarily to a general decline in which the weak have flourished. Kaufmann's assertion that Nietzsche does not consider a reptile better or higher than a fish is suggestive of Bergson not because Bergson shared Nietzsche's opinion but because he Bergson was able, as we shall seem to suggest reasons why the reptile was higher form of life than the fish, or for that matter the amoeba. Kaufmann also sees Nietzsche as a Lamarckian, and as a monist, as regards the concepts of spirit and matter: In The Gay Science (99), Nietzsche explicitly names Lamarck to defend him against Schopenhauer, while in a later note (xvi, 9) he describes Hegel and Lamarck as the proponents of a truer doctrine of evolution than Darwin's "Darwin has forgotten the spirit," Nietzsche explains later. (G ix 14)102


Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, The Will to Power, Walter Kaufmann, ed. (New York: Random House, 1967), p. 364. 101 Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (New York: The World Publishing Co., 1950), pp. 283-84. 102 Ibid., p. 254.


Thomas E. Hart Kaufmann also contends that: "the decisive point is that Nietzsche was faithful to his own repudiation of any strict division of flesh and spirit and that he insisted that the two could be understood only in their inextricable togetherness."103 Nietzsche's definition of the morality of the noble man and the opposition of this morality is best summarized in Beyond Good and Evil (Aphorism 260): In the first case, when it is the ruler who determine the conception "good," it is the exalted, proud disposition which is regarded as the distinguishing feature, and that which determines the order of rank. The noble type of man separates from himself the beings in whom the opposite of this exalted, proud disposition displays itself: he despises them. Let it at once be noted that in first kind of morality the antithesis "good" and "bad" means practically the same as "noble" and "despicable"; —the antithesis "good" and "evil" is of different origin. The cowardly the timid, the insignificant, and those thinking merely of narrow utility are despised; moreover, also, the distrustful, with their constrained glances,the self-abasing, the dog-like kind of men who let themselves be abused, the mendicant flatterers, and above all the liars: —it is a fundamental belief of all aristocrats that the common people are untruthful. "We truthful ones" — the nobility in ancient Greece called themselves. It is obvious that everywhere the designations of moral value were at first applied to men, and were only derivatively and at a later period applied to actions; it is a gross mistakes, therefore, when historians or morals start questions like, "Why have sympathetic actions been praised?" The noble type of man regards himself as a determiner of values; he does not require to be approved of; he passes the judgment: "What is injurious to me is injurious in itself"; he knows that it is he himself only who confers honour on things; he is a creator of values.104 and again: —the noble man also helps the unfortunate, but not — or scarcely — out of pity, but rather from an impulse generated by the super-abundance of power. The noble man also honours in himself the powerful one, him also who has power over himself, who knows how to speak and how to keep silence, who takes pleasure in subjecting himself to severity and hardness, and has reverence for all that is severe and hard. "Wotan placed a hard heart in my breast," says an old Scandinavian Saga: it is thus rightly expressed from the soul of a proud Viking. Such a type of man is even proud of not being made for sympathy; the hero of the Saga therefore adds warningly: "He who has not a hard heart when young, will never have one." The noble and brave who think thus are the furthest removed from the morality which sees precisely in sympathy or in acting for the good of others, or in désintéressement, the characteristic of the moral; faith in oneself, pride in oneself, a radical enmity and irony towards "selflessness," belong as definitely to noble morality, as do a careless scorn and precaution in presence of sympathy and the "warm heart." —It is the powerful who know how th honour, it is their art, their domain for invention. The profound reverence for age and for tradition — all law rests on this double reverence, — the belief and prejudice in favor of ancestors and unfavourable to newcomers, is typical in the morality of the powerful; and if, reversely, men of "modern ideas" believe almost
103 104


Ibid. The Philosophy of Nietzsche (New York: The Modern Library, 1954), p. 579.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw instinctively in "progress" and the "future," and are more and more lacking in respect for old age, the ignoble origin of these "ideas" has complacently betrayed itself thereby. A morality of the ruling class, however, is more especially foreign and irritating to present-day taste in the sternness of its principle that one has duties only to one's equals; that one may act towards beings of a lower rank, towards all that is foreign, just as seems good to one, or "as the heart desires," and in any case "beyond good and evil": it is here that sympathy and similar sentiments can have a place. The ability and obligation to exercise prolonged gratitude and prolonged revenge — both only within the circle of equals, — artfulness in retaliation, raffinement of the idea in friendship, a certain necessity to have enemies (as outlets for the emotions of envy, quarrelsomeness, arrogance — in fact, in order to be a good friend): all these are typical characteristics of the noble morality, which, as has been pointed out, is not the morality of "modern ideas," and is therefore at present difficult to realize, and also to unearth and disclose.105 The slave morality, however, is the antithesis of the noble morality: Supposing that the abused, the oppressed, the suffering, the unemancipated, the weary, and those uncertain of themselves, should moralize, what will be the common element in their moral estimates? Probably a pessimistic suspicion with regard to the entire situation of man will find expression, perhaps a condemnation of man, together with his situation. The slave has an unfavourable eye for the virtues of the powerful; he has a skepticism and distrust, a refinement of distrust of everything "good" that is there honoured — he would fain persuade himself that the very happiness there is not genuine. On the other hand, those qualities which serve to alleviate the existence of sufferers are brought into prominence and flooded with light; it is here that sympathy, the kind, helping hand, the warm heart, patience, diligence, humility, and friendliness attain to honour for here these are the most useful qualities, and almost the only means of supporting the burden of existence. Slave-morality is essentially the morality of utility. Here is the seat of the origin of the famous antithesis "good" and "evil": — power and dangerousness are assumed to reside in the evil, a certain dreadfulness, subtlety, and strength which do not admit of being despised. According to slave-morality, therefore the "evil" man arouse fear; according to master-morality, it is precisely the "good" man who arouse fear and seeks to arouse it, while the bad man is regarded as the despicable being. The contrast attains its maximum when, in accordance with the logical consequences of slave-morality, a shade of depreciation — it may be slight and well-intentioned — at last attaches itself to the "good" man of this morality; because, according to the servile mode of thought, the good man must in any case be the safe man: he is good-natured, easily deceived, perhaps a little stupid, un bonhomme. Everywhere that slave-morality gains the ascendency language shows a tendency to approximate the significations of the words "good" and "stupid." — At last a fundamental difference: the desire for freedom, the instinct for happiness and the refinements of the feeling of liberty belong as necessarily to slave-morals and morality, as artifice and enthusiasm in reverence and devotion are the regular symptoms of an aristocratic mode of thinking and estimating. —Hence we can understand without further detail why love as a passion — it is our European specialty


Ibid., pp. 579-81.

Thomas E. Hart — must absolutely be of noble origin; as is well known, its invention is due to the Provencal poet-cavalier, those brilliant, ingenious men of the "gai saber," to whom Europe owes so much, and almost owes itself.106 Essentially the noble man is the creator of values and the lover of tradition, the man who acts out of an overwhelming feeling of power whereas the slave morality is formed out of fear and what Nietzsche calls ressentiment. Nietzsche's use of the terms "noble" and "supermen" is misleading because he seems to be thinking of some past or present aristocracy and yet a closer examination of the relevant passages (Aphorisms 257 and 258 of Beyond Good and Evil) shows that the aristocracy described is an ideal: The idea behind it is that which we have seen formed the basis of all his thought: that existence is in itself not significant, and mankind can derive no significance from being a function of it; mankind must itself become the significance and justification of existence.107 The idea of good that Nietzsche proposes in The Antichrist is one of power: What is good? Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? Everything that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome. Not contentedness but more power; not peace but war; not virtue but fitness (Renaissance virtue, virtù, virtue that is moraline-free). The weak and the failures shall perish: first principle of our love of man. And they shall even be given every possible assistance. What is more harmful than any vice? Active pity for all the failures and all the weak: Christianity. 108 The power, however, is power over oneself: I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape.... Behold, I teach you the overman. The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers they are, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go.... Once the soul looked contemptuously upon the body, and then this contempt was the highest: she wanted the body meager, ghastly, and starved. thus she hoped to es106 107


Ibid., pp. 581-82. Hollingdale, p. 230. 108 Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, p. 570.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw cape it and the earth. Oh, this soul herself was still meager, ghastly, and starved: and cruelty was the lust of this soul. But you, too, my brothers, tell me: what does your body proclaim of your soul? Is not your soul poverty and filth and wretched contentment? Verily, a polluted stream is man. One must be a sea to be able to receive a polluted stream without becoming unclean. Behold, I teach you the overman: he is this sea; in him your great contempt can go under. What is the greatest experience you can have? It is the hour of the great contempt. the hour in which your happiness, too, arouses your disgust, and even your reason and your virtue. 109 Hollingdale comments: All men desire happiness because all desire the feeling of increased power; the greatest increase of power brings the greatest happiness; that which demand the greatest power is the overcoming of oneself; the happiest man is the man who has overcome himself—the superman.110 The superman, or Übermensch, then is not an evolutionary event but is a creator of moral values. He is not something that can be bred, as much as he can be willed, although Nietzsche had suggested that a marriage between a Prussian Junker and a Jewess would produce interesting offspring.111 Shaw had suggested that a similar match might be beneficial. Thus the son of a robust, cheerful, eupeptic British country squire, with the tastes and range of his class, and of a clever, imaginative, intellectual, highly civilized Jewess, might be very superior to both his parents; but it is not likely that the Jewess would find the squire an interesting companion, or his habits, his friends, his place and mode of life congenial to her. (III, 695) The Superman is not the result of a concerted experiment in eugenics, such as we will see advocated in The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, but he is the man in whom the will to power has reached its highest development. The will to power, however, is not to be confused with the Schopenhauerian will: If it is proposed that will to power is the basic drive in all life, the question arises: what is the nature of will as such? There still seem to be two forces at work: will, and that will which seeks power; the concept 'will' still exists as a substratum, will in Schopenhauer's sense, a metaphysical basis for life. Nietzsche must dispose of this notion if his philosophy is not to decline into a variant of Schopenhauer's— the will expressing itself not as striving to live but more dynamically as striving for aggrandizement— and he does so in what at first seems a surprising way. There is, he says, no such thing as will. Just as the soul turns out on inspection to be a word for a complicated system of relationships and therefore cannot be said to exist, so the will has no concrete existence: there is no force emanating within the body which can be identified as 'will'. 'Willing' is a product of a complex of sensations; and the sensation of willing is felt when the sensation of command succeeds in dominating the other sen-


Ibid., pp. 124-25. Hollingdale, pp. 196-97. 111 David S. Thatcher, Nietzsche in England 1890-1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970), p. 201. All subsequent references are to this edition and are cited by page in the text.


Thomas E. Hart sations. What we recognize as 'will' is the act of commanding: there is no substratum of 'will-in-itself' which appears in the form of commands.112 As Nietzsche makes clear in an aphorism from Beyond Good and Evil. Philosophers are accustomed to speak of the will as though it were the best-known thing in the world; indeed Schopenhauer has given us to understand that the will alone is really known to us, absolutely and completely known, without deduction or addition....Willing—seems to me to be above all something complicated, something that is a unity only in name— and it is precisely in a name that popular prejudice lurks, which has got the mastery over the inadequate precautions of philosophers in all ages. So let us for once be more cautious, let us be "unphilosophical": let us say that in all willing there is firstly a plurality of sensations, namely, the sensation of the condition "away from which we go," the sensation of of the condition "towards which we go," the sensation of this "from" and "towards" itself, and then besides, an accompanying muscular sensation, which, even without our putting in motion "arms ans legs," commences its action by force of habit, directly we "will" anything....That which is termed "freedom of the will" is essentially the emotion of supremacy in respect to him who must obey: "I am free, 'he' must obey"—this consciousness is inherent in every will; and equally so the straining of the attention, the straight look which fixes itself exclusively on one thing, the unconditional judgment that "this and nothing else is necessary now," the inward certainty that obedience will be rendered—and whatever else pertains to the position of the commander. A man who wills commands something within himself which renders obedience, or which he believes renders obedience.113 all will, insofar as it is impulse to force someone or something else, is a will to power over that which must obey. Whereas Nietzsche saw the removal of God, or mind, from the universe by Darwinism as an event that removed the need for metaphysics, Shaw replaced the discarded metaphysics with a metabiology. Nietzsche envisioned a superman who was the creator of all values while Shaw, as we shall see, envisioned a Superman who would snap his fingers at all our accepted moral codes and yet who does not create new values, merely reaffirms old ones and who, in Shaw's later phases, is to be a biological development. Nietzsche elevated the will to power and Shaw in his plays from Back to Methusalah on was to demand more intense cerebral activity. Admittedly in his early works, such as The Quintessence of Ibsenism and Man and Superman, Shaw appears as the the advocate of the irrational and the non-cerebral will. Shaw's advocacy of the will is seen in the conclusion fo the preface to Man and Superman.114 We have said that Shaw's Superman does not create new values, but merely reaffirms old ones. In this respect we would tend to agree with the statement which first appeared in Middleton Murray's Adelphi magazine: Both [Shaw and Nietzsche] have that great longing which is a great contempt and both use prevalent biological ideas to express it: to Shaw Evolution is the path to Godhead, and to Nietzsche Man is a bridge to the Superman, But here similarity ceases. To Shaw Godhead is omniscience and omnipotence: to Nietzsche it is
112 113


Hollingdale, p. 219. The Philosophy of Nietzsche, pp. 399-400. 114 See page 27 above.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw innocence. To Shaw the Superman is an Ancient who aspires to become Force without Form: to Nietzsche the Superman is a Child. Shaw's Ancient seeks a heaven where contemplation shall be his only joy: Nietzsche's Child seeks nothing but to stand as man upon the natural earth and be a man with men. But there is still deeper difference. Shaw sees a moment only as a point on an infinite straight line, and imagines the only Life Eternal to be Everlasting Life; but Nietzsche, knowing otherwise, cancelled the Dogma of the Superman by the equal and opposite Dogma of the Eternal Return so that every moment's living should be Eternal Life. (207) We have so far emphasized the intellectual side of Shaw and in doing so neglected the emotional or non-rational side but, as we have said earlier, to Shaw the intellect was a passion, in Eric Bentley's phrase, it is a case of Both/And not Either/Or.115 Both passion and intellect are united. We have not yet dealt with the question of how far Shaw was indebted to Nietzsche. In our discussion we will draw extensively on David S. Thatcher's Nietzsche in England 18901914 which provides a lengthy discussion of Shaw's relationship to Nietzsche. Shaw, in the preface to Major Barbara says that he first became aware of Nietzsche when a German mathematician, Miss Borchardt, stated that his The Quintessence of Ibsenism was influenced by Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. Shaw denied this as he "had never seen, and could not have read with any comfort, for want of the necessary German, if I had seen it." (I, 303) When Shaw did read the available Nietzsche translations he saw the immediate similarity between his book and Nietzsche's. In fact Nietzsche's criticism of morality and idealism is essentially that demonstrated in my book as at the bottom of Ibsen's plays. His pungency; his power of putting the merest platitudes of his position in rousing, startling paradoxes; his way of getting underneath moral precepts which are so unquestionable to us that common decency seems to compel unhesitating assent to them, and upsetting them with a scornful laugh: all this is easy to a witty man who has once well learnt Schopenhauer's lesson, that the intellect by itself is a mere dead piece of brain machinery, and our ethical and moral systems merely the pierced cards you stick into it when you want it to play a certain tune. So far I am on common ground with Nietzsche. (177) This is certainly a strange statement coming from the author of Man and Superman in which the dramatist had elevated intellect and the philosophic man to a place of supreme importance. Shaw's inclusion of the Life Force in his philosophy gives a place to the irrational forces of existence but presents a problem since the Life Force is a blindly struggling principle that is irrationally seeking to become rational. It is impossible, of course, to look at Man and Superman without being struck at the emphasis on intellect, an emphasis which will in Back to Methusalah and Far-fetched Fables be elevated to the sole principle of life. The extinction of irascible passion and its replacement by intellectual passion will become the summum bonum for Shaw in his later plays. Shaw had in the preface to Three Plays for Puritans called Nietzsche a Diabolonian and in an earlier article, quoted by Thatcher, had called Blake, Swinburne, Mark Twain and Ibsen Diabolonians. Thatcher says: "For Shaw, the point at which Nietzsche, Ibsen, and Wagner converge is in their 'transvaluation of values,' their criticism of current respectability; all three are pioneers in morality who stand for whatever is most advanced." (177)


Bentley, p. 53.

Thomas E. Hart Thatcher notes that much of the knowledge of Nietzsche arose from the controversy over Wagner and his music. Shaw makes clear in The Perfect Wagnerite that he regards Siegfried as a Bakuninistic anarchist and prototype of Nietzsche's Superman116 It is in The Perfect Wagnerite that we find Siegfried categorized as an immoralist and the description of The Ring as a parable of emancipation from morality. To Shaw Siegfried was in Thatcher's words, "the redeemer of all those enslaved to ideals and law, which they know to be makeshift and obsolescent."(181) It is impossible for any man to achieve redemption from idealism and Shaw says: No individual Siegfried can rescue them from this bondage and hypocrisy; in fact, the individual Siegfried has come often enough, only to find himself confronted with the alternative of governing those who are not Siegfrieds or risking destruction at their hands. And this dilemma will persist until Wotan's inspiration comes to our governors, and they see that their business is not the devising of laws and institutions to prop up the weaknesses of mobs and secure the survival of the unfittest, but the breeding of men whose wills and intelligences may be depended on to produce spontaneously the social well-being our clumsy laws now aim at and miss.117 Here we recognize that the thought out of which Man and Superman, Back to Methusalah, The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, and Far-fetched Fables grew was present in Shaw's earliest writings. Shaw also came into contact with Nietzsche through Schopenhauer and through Max Degeneration. Shaw's response to Nordau, "A Degenerate's View of Nordau"118 later to be published as The Sanity of Art, however, does not mention Nietzsche except in a quote from Nordau's text. Presumably Shaw by 1895 still did not know Nietzsche well enough to defend him, possibly he felt that he lacked the technical equipment to defend Nietzsche, nor did Shaw see fit to defend Nietzsche in 1907 when he republished The Sanity of Art and four years after he had proclaimed Nietzsche as the latest prophet of the Superman in Man and Superman. Shaw, in a review of the first two translations of Nietzsche, which is quoted by Thatchers, says of Nietzsche that: To him Democracy, Pauline Christianity, Socialism, and so on are deliberate plots hatched by malignant philosophers to frustrate the evolution of the human race and mass the stupidity and brute force of the many weak against the beneficial tyranny of the few strong. This is not even a point of view it is an absolutely fictitious hypothesis. (185-86) Considering Shaw's own account of the political process and the picture he paints of the conspiratorial company Breakages Ltd. in The Apple Cart, this is a remarkable statement. The plays from The Apple Cart on, most notably Too True to be Good (for its portrait of Col. Tallboys), On the Rocks, and Geneva, show that Shaw has assumed the very attitude that he presumed to criticize earlier. As Thatcher comments in a footnote: Fictitious or not, it was a hypothesis which Shaw later modified into a scheme he adopted so completely that it is invariably associated with his name—the deliberate



George Bernard Shaw, The Perfect Wagnerite (New York:Dover Publications., 1967), pp. 44, 68, and

passim. 117 Ibid., pp. 59-60. 118 Laurence, pp. 347-77.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw breeding of a superior race of human beings to replace an inadequate and inefficient process of political and social change. (186) In a review of 1899 Shaw called Nietzsche a Diabolonian and in the preface to Three Plays for Puritans he in effect stated that Beyond Good and Evil was merely a later recension of Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.119 Shaw was evidently not a linguist, as could be expected from the man who wrote "no man fully capable of his own language ever masters another." (III, 733) Shaw did, however, in his preface to his translation of Frau Gitta's Sühne remark: I can neither claim knowledge of the German language nor plead ignorance of it. I am like most literary persons: I have spent several holidays in Germany (mostly in Bayreuth), and have just managed to ask my way, and get what I wanted in the shops and railway stations, without the aid of an interpreter. The proverbial bits of Goethe and Wagner and Nietzsche are familiar to me; and when a German writes to me I can generally make out what he wants provided he uses the Latin and not the Gothic script. And that is all. (VI, 376-77) and then proceeds to expose what is either his ignorance or, as Thatcher contends (188), an aesthetic preference by saying that has had to spell Gitta as Jitta "to avert having her name pronounced with a hard G." (VI, 377) Henderson, as noted by Thatcher, had said that Shaw "could not have read much of the few English translation that were done except Thomas Common's book of selections" (188) without attempting to read the German originals. Shaw commented to his biographer that: Nietzsche's erudition I believe to be all nonsense. I think he was academic in the sense of having a great deal of second-hand book-learning about him, and don't care for him except when he is perfectly original—that is, when he is dealing with matters which a peasant might have dealt with if he had brains enough, and had the run of a library. You feel how clever and imaginative he is, and how much he has derived from writers of genius and from his own humanity about men and nations; but there is a want of actual contact knowledge about him; he is always the speculative university professor or the solitary philosopher and poet, never quite the worker and man of affairs or the executive artist in solid materials. It annoys me to see English writers absolutely ignoring the work of British thinkers, and swallowing foreign celebrities— whether philosophers or opera-singers—without a grain of salt. It shows an utter want of intellectual self respect; and the result of it is that Nietzsche's views, instead of being added soberly to the existing body of philosophy, are treated as if they were a sort of music-hall performance.120 a comment which does suggest "more than a superficial acquaintance." In the preface to Major Barbara Shaw does say that Nietzsche, like Schopenhauer, had been the victim of a phrase quoted out of context:"Nietzsche, like Schopenhauer, is the victim in England of a single much quoted sentence containing the phrase 'big blonde beast.'"(I, 303) As to Shaw's indebtedness to Nietzsche and his stated affinity for him, both Henderson and J.W. Groshang, in statements quoted by Thatcher contend that there was no affinity and a great deal of ignorance of Nietzsche on Shaw's part.


119 120

See page 15 above. Henderson, p. 770.

Thomas E. Hart Indeed, Shaw is an unwilling imposter as a pundit in the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. What, for example, could be more foreign to the Shavian philosophy than Nietzsche's repudiation of Socialism, his admiration for the Romans, or his notions about art?.... In the first place, through a writing lifetime of roughly seventy years, Shaw published comments on Nietzsche to fill no more than six or eight printed pages, certainly far from enough for positive proof of his erudition. In the second place, Shaw is very positive about Nietzsche in his earlier reviews, much more doubtful and vague in his later writing. One may therefore suspect that as awareness of Nietzsche grew in England, Shaw may have become less and less disposed to betray his ignorance by positive statements. In the 1896 review, for example, he confidently describes the Nietzschean concept of slave-morality. But ten years later in the Preface to Major Barbara, he implies, that he has no first-hand knowledge of Nietzschean ethics: "Nietzsche, as I gather, regarded the slave-morality as having been invented and imposed on the world." (190-91) Henderson is certainly right in rejecting Shaw's affinity to Nietzsche in the area he names but what he fails to see and what others have failed to see is that Shaw looked at the artist philosophers, such as Shelley and Nietzsche, not from an analytical and critical point of view but from an assimilative viewpoint which sought to relate these men views either fully formed or incipient in Shaw. The part Shaw could not digest was simply eliminated and ignored. Groshang misunderstands the nuance of "as I gather" which is used ironically in a passage in which Shaw is attempting to minimize the foreign influence on his work. [Considering that the British (in the widest sense) writers whom he mentions were, judging from the context, unfamiliar even when the preface was fresh and that today even beleaguered graduate students are unfamiliar with the work of Belfort Bax, Charles Lever, and Stuart Glennis, the effect Shaw aimed for can only be one of showing his superior knowledge of erudition concerning minor British philosophers.] As Thatcher notes, the disclaimer "is so sweeping that one suspects that Shaw is having his own ironic joke." (192) Shaw found suggestions for the Superman in Emperor and Galilean. The "third empire" the union of Logos and Pan is to be "the empire of Man asserting the eternal validity of his own will."121 As Thatcher says: Julian repudiates the first empire of simple pagan sensuality, and also the selfabnegating idealism of Christianity, the second empire, which succeeded it. Both Caesar and Christ will succumb, but not perish; they will be incorporated in the new messiah who will be both Emperor and God, Pan and Logos. This synthetic conception is identical with one description Nietzsche gave of the superman—"the Roman Caesar with Christ's soul." (194) In Shaw's 1907 preface to The Sanity of Art, quoted by Thatcher, he says of the Superman: I know of no harder practical question than how much selfishness one ought to stand from a gifted person for the sake of his gifts or on the chance of his being right in the long run. The Superman will certainly come like a thief in the nigh, and be shot accordingly; but we cannot leave our property wholly undefended on that account. On the other hand, we cannot ask the Superman simply to add a higher set of virtues to current respectable moral; for he is undoubtedly going to empty a good


Laurence, p. 239.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw deal of respectable morality out like so much dirty water, and replace it by new and strange customs, shedding old obligations and accepting new and heavier ones. Every step of his progress must horrify conventional people; and if it were possible for even the most superior men to march ahead all the time, every pioneer of the march towards the Superman would be crucified. (195) Shaw's contribution to morality lies in his demand that the Superman be bred and in his revaluation of economic morality. In the Shavian ethical canon the gentleman and the social parasite are capital offenders and in Shaw's later plays, particularly The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, they get their just deserts. Nietzsche, however, with his scorn for socialism and equality and his hatred of asceticism would see a wide gulf between his conception of Zarathustra and Shaw's Superman and it is here that the voice of Shaw's Devil comes to mind, "Beware of the pursuit of the Superhuman: it leads to an indiscriminate contempt for the Human." (III, 648) Shaw in Man and Superman is beginning to forget his earlier advocacy of the will and become an "arrant intellect-monger." (186) Thatcher comments that Shaw has ignored "Zarathustra's admonitions to the despisers of the body. It is here that the gulf between Nietzsche's superman and that of Shaw looms widest." (198) Zarathustra in his admonitions says: Even in your folly and contempt, you despisers of the body, you serve yourself. I say unto you: your self itself wants to die and turns away from life. It is no longer capable of what it would do above all else: to create beyond itself. That is what it would do above all else, that is its fervent wish. But now it is too late for it to do this: so your self wants to go under, O despisers of the body. Your self wants to go under, and that is why you have become despisers of the body! For you are no longer able to create beyond yourselves. And that is why you are angry with life and the earth. An unconscious envy speaks out of squint-eyed glance of your contempt.122 Shaw's Superman accepts new moral obligations which replace the old, worn-out moral codes sponsored by the common man who "is never without an array human idols who all nothing but sham Supermen." (III, 702) What the common man does not realize about the real Superman is: That the real Superman will snap his superfingers at all Man's present trumpery ideals of right, duty, honor, justice, religion, even decency, and accept moral obligations beyond present human endurance, is a thing that contemporary Man does not foresee: in fact he does not notice it when our casual Supermen do it in his very face. (III, 702) Although when Shaw's plays and prefaces are examined, he does not seem to have"snapped his superfingers" at morality except in the instances already noted. Shaw's reasons for breeding the Superman are political, the Yahoo must be eliminated before he can wreck the state. Here Shaw found himself in the dilemma of whether social evolution was possible without human evolution and vice versa. Eric Bentley's comments are illuminating in this regard. Shaw had begun with socialist ethics, according to which you must change society in order to change man. the trouble was that unless you changed man he refused to change society. It was a dilemma. Shaw's way out was not to reverse his earlier decision


Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, p. 147.

Thomas E. Hart by staking all on the prior need of inner change. He had begun by asking for change from without; he later asks for change from within, not instead, but as well. Shaw said, moreover, that you could not have democracy until everyone is a Superman. He did not say you could not have socialism till then.123 Nietzsche's Superman is not, as Thatcher remarks, "a denizen of democracy" and he continues on to say: The major difference between Nietzsche and Shaw is that Shaw employed the superman concept to infuse dynamism into a socialist doctrine endangered by inertia, whereas Nietzsche thought of the superman as an antidote to the nihilism which was bidding fair to engulf the whole of Europe....In grafting the Nietzschean figure on to a socialist programme, Shaw produces a hybrid—and a loss of vitality, richness, and imaginative appeal. The yoke of Benthamite social thinking weighs heavily on Shaw, and this partly explains his "incorrigible tendency to mentalize, socialize, and domesticate the more dangerous insights of rebel artists and philosophers." (200) Shaw's Superman is certainly different from Nietzsche's and his ideal society is not one in which many people would care to live but then most people do not care to sublimate their sexual energies to intellectual work or derive narcosis of stimulation from going to church as did Shaw.124 As to his identification of Siegfried with the Superman, Shaw probably did not know Nietzsche's evaluation of Siegfried which Thatcher quotes: "The figure of Siegfried, that very free man, who is probably far too free, too hard, too cheerful, too healthy, too antiCatholic for the taste of old and mellow civilized nations." (200) Shaw's Superman is antitraditional, like Siegfried, as well as socialistic and anarchistic: Nietzsche's superman reveres tradition and ancestry, and rejects the ideals of socialism and anarchism which are so prominent a part of Siegfried's make-up. This difference escapes Shaw, who here — as so often — is intent on forging identities in the face of manifest dissimilarity. Shaw's appreciation of nature never descended to the perception of differences, and on one occasion he confessed that one one tree looked exactly like another to him. Homogeneity and synonymity were part of a philosophic creed which held that truth was one and indivisible, however multiform the various expressions of it might be, and it is this belief which is responsible for a certain myopia in some of Shaw's strange cultural equations. (200) When Shaw equates Bunyan, Blake, Nietzsche, Wagner and Ibsen he makes an error similar in kind to that of the Vedantist who accepts all religions as paths to the one truth, that of Vedanta, and who does not recognize the manifest dissimilarities and antagonisms. This leads him to manifest absurdities as we shall see later on.125 Shaw's picture of man is optimistic, for it is based on the ultimate removal of all ills through humanitarian effort and enterprise — as Nietzsche saw, this was a movement which restricted the power in human life of inexorable fate, and hence of material for tragic art." (212) It is undoubtedly true that Shaw did not in his pre-war plays achieve anything approaching the tragic spirit as Nietzsche conceived it. Shaw did, however, in Heartbreak House and St, Joan, achieve the feeling of destiny and of tragic irony evident in Greek tragedy. He did not, however, achieve in in the fourth play of the Methusalah cycle (Tragedy of an Elderly Gentleman). For Nietzsche the
123 124


Bentley, p. 56. Cf. Shaw's essay "On Going to Church," Laurence, pp. 378-90. 125 See page 60 below.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw tragic could only be the product of great feelings, of a great soul, and the superman is not a mere cerebral creation but one capable of great feeling. Whereas Shaw had sought to shape society and to portray an evolved society, Nietzsche had said that the vision of the artist should be directed towards noble men: Nor should this be so done as if the poet, like an imaginative political economist, had to anticipate a more favourable national and social state of things and picture their realization. Rather will he, just as the earlier poets portrayed the images of the Gods, portray the fair images of men. He will divine those cases where, in the midst of our modern world and reality (which will not be shirked or repudiated in the usual poetic fashion), a great, noble soul is still possible, where it may be embodied in harmonious equable conditions, where it may become permanent, visible and representative of a type, and so, by the stimulus to imitation and envy, help to create the future. (213) Ultimately the Shavian Superman is related to Nietzsche's Übermensch but there are considerable differences as Thatcher says: Shaw was right in thinking that Nietzsche's superman bore certain affinities to Wagner's Siegfried, but failed to accentuate the real differences between them. Shaw's own superman, whether archiconoclast or disembodied mind, is quite distinct from Nietzsche's who, by being allied to the Shavian Life Force, found himself in sedate quarantine. It is quite wrong to assume, as one critic has done that in Back to Methusalah the influence of Nietzsche is "pervasive" and to make it responsible "for the un-Shavian unpleasantness of several sections of the play." Finally, if Nietzsche's attitude towards Euripides and Carlyle is any guide, Shaw had little genuine understanding of why Nietzsche proclaimed himself the first tragic philosopher of modern times. (217)' In conclusion, we can say Shaw's uses of the will and the Life Force derives more from Schopenhauer than from the Nietzschean will to power. Nietzsche's Übermensch is in the same line of descent as Shaw's Superman but Shaw has projected his own though, wishes and desires onto Nietzsche's conception. Finally, Shaw found in Nietzsche an anti-Darwinian and pro-Lamarckian ally so that Nietzsche's thought was assimilated and became a part of Shaw's thought without being subjected to thorough analysis.


CHAPTER TWO BACK TO METHUSALAH The longest and fullest statement of Shaw's evolutionary philosophy appears in Back to Methusalah. The themes that Shaw had first stated in Man and Superman are developed and elaborated in this play and in its accompanying preface. Stanley Weintraub in Journey to Heartbreak saw Back to Methusalah as arising out of Shaw's reaction to the events of the First World War.126 The intellectual background of the play was stated by Shaw to be a reaction to August Weismann's remark that death was merely a way to make room for new people (II, xviii). The doctrine that Shaw propounds, however, is not merely one of the advantages of long life and the mere accumulation of experience, but is an anti-Darwinian and NeoLamarckian tract for the times. Lilith's concluding word in Back to Methusalah are, for any student of Shaw, the locus classicus in which the dualistic element is clearly presented. Since is essential to our understanding of Shaw, it is worth giving in full: They have accepted the burden of eternal life. They have taken the agony from birth; and their life does not fail them even in the hour of their destruction. Their breasts are without milk: their bowels are gone: the very shapes of them are only ornaments for their children to admire and caress without understanding. Is this enough; or shall I labor again? Shall I bring forth something that will sweep them away and make an end of them as they have swept away the beasts of the garden, and make an end of the crawling things and the flying things and of all them that refuse to live forever? I had patience with them for many ages: they tried me sorely. they did terrible things: they embraced death, and said that eternal life was a fable. I stood amazed at the malice and destructiveness of the things I had made: Mars blushed as he looked down on the shame of his sister planet: cruelty and hypocrisy became so hideous that the face of the earth was pitted with the graves of little children among which the living skeletons crawled in search of horrible food. The pangs of another birth were already upon men when one man repented and lived three hundred years; and I waited to see what would come of that. And so much came of it that the horrors of that time seem now but an evil dream. They have redeemed themselves from their vileness, and turned away from their sins. Best of all, they are still not satisfied: the impulse I gave them in that day when I sundered myself in twain and launched Man and Woman on the earth still urges them: after passing a million goals they press on to the goal of redemption from the flesh, to the vortex freed from matter, to the whirlpool in pure intelligence that, when the world began, was a whirlpool in pure force. And though all that they have done seems but the first hour of creation of the infinite work of creation, yet I will not supersede them until they have forded this last stream that lies between flesh and spirit, and disentangled their life from the matter that has always mocked it. I can wait: waiting and patience mean nothing to the eternal. I gave the woman the greatest of gifts: curiosity. By that her seed has been saved from my wrath; for I also am curious; and I have waited always to see what they will do tomorrow. Let them dread, of all things, stagnation; for from the moment I,

Weintraub, pp. 309-24.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw Lilith, lose hope and faith in them they are doomed. In that hope and faith I have let them live for a moment; and in that moment I have spared them many times. But mightier creatures than they have killed hope and faith, and perished from the earth; and I may not spare them forever. I am Lilith: I brought Life into the whirlpool of force, and compelled my enemy, Matter, to obey a living soul. But in enslaving Life's enemy I made him Life's master; for that is the end of all slavery; and now I shall see the slave set free and the enemy reconciled, the whirlpool become all life and no matter. And because these infants that call themselves ancients are reaching out towards that, I will have patience with them still; though I know well that when they attain it they shall become one with me and supersede me, and Lilith will be only a legend and a lay that has lost its meaning. Of life only is there no end; and though of its million starry mansions many are empty and many still unbuilt, and though its vast domain is as yet unbearably desert, my need shall one day fill it and master its matter to its uttermost confines. And for what may be beyond, the eyesight of Lilith is too short. It is enough that there is a beyond. (II, 261-62) This is not the first reference in the play to either the dualism of life and matter or to the vortex. Pygmalion, in his presentation of the two automatons expresses the life-matter antithesis: One of the very oldest documents we possess mentions a tradition of a biologist who extracted certain unspecified minerals from the earth and, as it quaintly expresses it "breathed into their nostrils the breath of life." This is the only tradition from the primitive ages which we can regard as really scientific. There are later documents which specify the minerals with great precision, even to their atomic weights, but they are utterly unscientific, because they overlook the element of life which makes all the difference between a mere mixture of salts and gases and a living organism. (II, 227) And again in a passage that, in speaking of the vital force and of the development of the body as a tool for the vital force, has a distinct Bergsonian ring: But hitherto the vital force has eluded us; so it has had to create machinery for itself. It has created and developed bony structure for the requisite strength, and clothed them with cellular tissue of such amazing sensitiveness that the organs it forms will adapt their action to all the normal variations in the air they breathe, the food they digest, and the circumstances about which they have to think. Yet, as these live bodies, as we call them, are only machines after all, it must be possible to construct them mechanically. (II, 228) Pygmalion explains the difference between the higher forms of life and the lower ones thus: The Life Force is not so simple as you think. A high-potential current of it will turn a bit of dead tissue into a philosopher's brain. A low-potential current will reduce the same bit of tissue to a mass of corruption. (II, 230-31) After futile experiments in making eyes and ears Pygmalion proceeds to make a brain and then encrusts with organ much as Bergson envisions life itself doing127: It encouraged me so much that I put aside the eyes and ears and made a brain. It wouldn't take the Life Force at all until I had altered its constitution a dozen times; but



See pages 55-56 below.

Thomas E. Hart when it did, it took a much higher potential and did not dissolve; and neither did the eyes and ears when I connected them up with the brain. (II, 231-32) The first reference to the vortex occurs towards the end of As Far As Thought Can Reach in the conversation of the Ancients with the children: THE NEWLY BORN. [to the He-Ancient] But you can't be nothing. What do you want to be? THE HE-ANCIENT. A vortex. THE NEWLY BORN. A what? THE SHE-ANCIENT. A vortex. I began as a vortex: why should I not end as one? ECRASIA. Oh! That is what you old people are. Vorticists. ACIS. But if life is thought, can you live without a head? THE HE-ANCIENT. Not now perhaps. But prehistoric men thought they could not live without tails. I can live without a tail. Why should I hot live without a head? THE NEWLY BORN. What is a tail? THE HE-ANCIENT. A habit of which your ancestors managed to cure themselves. THE SHE-ANCIENT. None of us now believe that all this machinery of flesh and blood is necessary. It dies. THE HE-ANCIENT. It imprisons us on this petty planet and forbids us to range through the stars. ACIS. But even a vortex is a vortex in something. You can't have a whirlpool without water; and you can't have a vortex without gas or molecules or atoms or ions or electrons or something, not nothing. THE HE-ANCIENT. No: the vortex is not the water nor the gas nor the atoms: it is power over these things. THE SHE-ANCIENT. The body was the slave of the vortex; but the slave has become the master; and we must free ourselves from that tyranny. It is this stuff [indicating her body], this flesh and blood and all the rest of it, that is intolerable. Even prehistoric man dreamed of what he called an astral body, and asked who would deliver him from the body of this death. (II, 255-56) Ecrasia's reference to the Vorticists may have been a reference to the school of painting and sculpture led by Gaudier-Brzeska and Wyndham Lewis but is relatively unimportant. What is important is the Ancients aspire to be pure thought freed from the confines of matter. Pygmalion had sought and had succeeded in imprisoning consciousness in matter but the Ancients want to return to a state of pure or supraconsciousness. All of this is very similar to Bergson's philosophy as we shall see.128 Shaw's philosophy in Back to Methusalah is neo-Lamarckian and vitalist and it is the influence on Shaw of a neo-Lamarckian (Butler) and a vitalist (Bergson) that I wish to examine in this chapter. The most noteworthy of the neo-Lamarckians and creative evolutionists to have exerted an influence on Shaw are Samuel Butler and Henri Bergson. Butler's evolutionary beliefs are proclaimed in a long essay, "The Deadlock in Darwinism," the chapter on machines in Erewhon, and the four books, Luck, or Cunning; Evolution, Old and New; Life and Habit and


See p. 53 ff.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw Unconscious Memory. In some respects Butler's vision is prophetic of the current work of Arthur C. Clarke who seems to have take seriously the idea of non-biological life forms and to have embodied it in recent stories as well as in his screenplay for Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In other respects Butler's thought has been fruitless, it has been ignored by most biologists and seems to have borne fruit only with Shaw. Butler's four books are largely repetitious, although marked by energy and brilliance of thought and style; so for the purpose of economy our discussion will be drawn largely from "The Deadlock in Darwinism" and Life and Habit. Henri Bergson's evolutionary philosophy is most clearly and specifically embodied in his book Creative Evolution. with Bergson we are primarily concerned with the belief in a purposive force behind evolution and the existence of an ultimate teleological goal for evolution. These problems, as well as Shaw's familiarity with Bergson's work (although familiarity with the works themselves is not an absolute necessity since the ideas may be said to have been "in the air"), are the concerns of this chapter. The term neo-Darwinian, which was used by both Butler and Shaw, appears to mean slightly different things to each. To Butler it means the doctrine of Charles Darwin, the grandson of Erasmus Darwin, and he often refers to it as Charles Darwinism. Darwinism, for Butler, refers to Erasmus Darwin. Shaw describes the neo-Darwinists as the revisionists: The few who never read any others were led by them [the neo-Darwinians] to concentrate exclusively on Circumstantial Selection as the explanation of all the transformations and adaptations which were the evidence for Evolution. And they presently found themselves so cut off by this specialization from the majority who knew Darwin only by his spurious reputation, that they were obliged to distinguish themselves, not as Darwinian, but as Neo-Darwinians. (II, xi) The term neo-Darwinism was, as stated, intended by Butler to include Charles Darwin while Shaw seems to imply that the term belongs to the generation which succeeded Darwin and which emphasized natural selection to the exclusion of everything else, including use and disuse. The main criticism of neo-Darwinism for both Butler and Shaw centers around the doctrine of natural selection, or what Shaw calls "circumstantial selection." Shaw summarizes the position of the Darwinians in this quotation from Erasmus Darwin: The world has been evolved, not created: it has arisen little by little from a small beginning, and has increased through the activity of the elemental forces embodied in itself, and so has rather grown than come into being at an almighty word. What a sublime idea of the infinite might of the great Architect, the Cause of all causes, the Father of all fathers, the Ens Entium! For if we would compare the Infinite, it would surely require a greater Infinite to cause the causes of effects than to produce the effects themselves. (II, xxi) Again Shaw quotes Treviranus as saying: In every living being there exists a capacity for endless diversity of form. Each possesses the power of adapting its organization to the variations of the external world; and it is this power, called into activity by cosmic changes, which has enabled the simple zoophytes of the primitive world to climb to higher and higher stages of organization, and has brought endless variety into nature. (II, xxii) Shaw and Butler both view themselves as neo-Lamarckians, i.e., those who believe that the principle mechanism of the vital force behind evolution is habit, or use and disuse. Butler and


Thomas E. Hart Shaw maintain that every action was learned at some time or other, whether in this life or in previous biological incarnations. (It is Butler's contention that as a man was once a part of his father and mother he partakes of their experience, particularly if the experience is acute and memorable, until he is born and that this memory of ancestral experience includes that of all his progenitors going back to the prototype of all cellular life in the amoeba.) Butler summarizes the points of disagreement between the neo-Darwinians and the Lamarckians, such as he and Shaw, with this statement: The dispute turns not upon natural selection, which is common to all writers on evolution, but upon the nature and causes of the variations that are supposed to be selected from and thus accumulated. Are these mainly attributable to the inherited effects of use and disuse, supplemented by occasional sports and happy accidents? Or are they mainly due to sports and happy accidents, supplemented by occasional inherited effects of use and disuse?129 And somewhat later he says: Those who examine the main facts of animal and vegetable organization without bias will, no doubt, ere long conclude that all animals and vegetables are derived ultimately from unicellular organisms, but they will not less readily perceive that the evolution of species without the concomitance and direction of mind and effort is as inconceivable as is the independent creation of every individual species.130 Evolution without direction is the removal of mind from the operation of the universe. To Butler and Shaw this was a tragic idea since it left us at the whim of a merciless universe in which progress and evolution was the result of a fortunate combination of events. The criticism of Charles Darwin by Butler and Shaw falls into four main categories: first, that Darwin removed mind, will, or design from the universe; second, that habitual unconscious actions were at one time conscious; third, that habits are acquired by heredity and fourth, that habit, or use and disuse, is the motive force behind evolution. Enough has been said about the first point, the removal of mind from the universe, to allow us to move to the second point, that habitual unconscious actions were at one time conscious, and to see what Butler and Shaw say on this point. Butler says in Life and Habit: The question, therefore, is forced upon us, how far this principle extends, and whether there may not be unheeded examples of its operation which, if we consider, will land us in rather unexpected conclusions. If it be granted that consciousness of knowledge and of volition vanishes when the knowledge and the volition have become intense and perfect, may it not be possible that many actions which we do without knowing how we do them, and without any conscious exercise of the will — actions which we certainly could not do if we tried to do them, nor refrain from doing if for any reason we wished to do so — are done so easily and so unconsciously owing to excess of knowledge or experience rather than deficiency, we having done them so often, knowing how to do them so well, and having too little hesitation as to the method of procedure, to be capable of following our own action, without the derangement of such action; or in other cases, because we have so long settled the



Samuel Butler, The Essential Samuel Butler, ed. G.D.H. Cole (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., n.d.), p. Ibid., p. 364.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw question, that we have stowed away the whole apparatus with which we work in corners of our system which we cannot now conveniently reach?131 And again on the circulation of the blood: In the case of the circulation, the whole performance has become one so utterly of rote, that the mere discovery we could do it at all was considered one of the highest flights of human genius.132 Shaw, in this context, says of Lamarck and acquired habits: Lamarck, whilst making many ingenious suggestions as to the reaction of external causes of life and habit, such as the changes of climate, food supply, geological upheavals and so forth, really held as his fundamental proposition that living organisms changed because they wanted to. As he stated it, the great factor in Evolution is use and disuse. If you have no eyes, and want to see, and keep trying to see, you will finally get eyes. If like a mole or a subterranean fish, you have eyes and don't want to see, you will lose your eyes. If you like eating the tender tops of trees enough to make you concentrate all your energies on the stretching of your neck, you will finally get a long neck, like the giraffe. (II, xxii - xxiii) Shaw gives as an example of how acquirements are inherited , the practice required to learn to ride a bicycle. Every attempt at staying upright is a failure, according to Shaw, until suddenly, and not gradually the vehicle stays upright without the conscious control of the rider. This acquirement, however, is not passed on from the point of final mastery, but neither is it forgotten since, "your son relapses, not to the very beginning, but to a point which no mortal method of measurement can distinguish from the beginning." (II, xxiii) Butler contends in Unconscious Memory that repetition, or at any rate identical repetition does not lead to improvement and goes on to state much as Shaw does, that the relapse in acquiring habits does not go back to the beginning but quite near to the beginning so that each generation builds upon and improves on its predecessor. This belief that organs, such as hearts, lungs, livers, spleens, appendices, etc. are the result of habits that can be acquired or abandoned as need arises is the hallmark of the Lamarckism to which Butler and Shaw laid claim. Lamarck, and with him Butler and Shaw, however, goes on to claim that these habits are passed on to descendants so that the vermiform appendix, for example, once served a useful purpose but has fallen into disuse so that it remains only in rudimentary form, as has, say the coccyx. On this score Butler quotes Alfred Russell Wallace, co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of natural selection, and comments as follows: "The eyes of these fish are curiously distorted in order that both eyes may be upon the upper side, where alone they would be of any use...Now if we suppose this process, which in the young is completed in a few days or weeks, to have been spread over thousands of generations during the development of these fish, those usually surviving whose eyes retained more and more of the position into which the young fish tried to twist them [italics are Butler's], the change becomes intelligible." When it was said by Professor Ray Lankester — who knows as well as most people what Lamarck taught — that this was 'flat Lamarckism', Mr. Wallace rejoined that it was the survival of the modified individuals that did it all, not the efforts of the young fish to twist their eyes,
Samuel Butler, Life and Habit: The Shrewsbury Edition of the Works of Samuel Butler, eds. Henry Festing Jones and A. T. Bartholomew (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1924), Vol. IV, p. 36. 132 Ibid., p. 47


Thomas E. Hart and the transmission to descendants of the effects of those efforts. But this, as I said in my book Evolution, Old and New, is like saying that horses are swift runners, not by reason of the causes, whatever they were, that occasioned the direct line of their progenitors to vary towards ever greater and greater swiftness, but because their more slow-going uncles and aunts go away. Plain people will prefer to say that the main cause of any accumulation of favourable modifications consists rather in that which brings about the initial variations, and in the fact that these can be inherited at all, than in the fact that the unmodified individuals were not successful.133 Butler elaborates his defense of Lamarckism, especially the inheritance of acquired characteristics, in the second part of his article, "The Deadlock in Darwinism." In Butler's words: Having thus established the general proposition, I will proceed to the more particular one — that habits, involving use and disuse of special organs, with the modifications of structure thereby engendered, produce also an effect upon offspring, which, though seldom perceptible as regards structure in a single, or even in several generations, is nevertheless capable of being accumulated is successive generation till it amounts to specific and generic difference.134 Butler cites as evidence for his view a passage from Charles Darwin's Variations of Animals and Plants under Domestication which summarizes the experiments of Dr. Brown Sequard on guinea pigs. Substantially the passage, which is too long and too technical to quote, concludes that operations which cause certain defects to the parents affect the germ-plasm of the parents in such a way that the defect, although not, of course, the actual operation, transmitted.135 Butler mentions the criticism of Weismann, an opponent of Lamarck, who says that it is precisely this failure to transmit the means by which the characteristic was acquired which disproves Lamarckism. Butler, of course, denies that the operation could or should be passed on. Butler summarizes his position on memory and heredity as follows: We have seen that it is a first requirement of heredity that there shall be physical continuity between parents and offspring. This holds good with memory. There must be continued identity between the person remembering and the person to whom the thing that is remembered happened. We cannot remember things that happened to someone else, and in our absence. We can only remember having heard of them We have seen, however, that there is as much bona fide sameness of personality between parents and offspring up to the time at which the offspring quits the parent's body, as there is between the different states of the parent himself at any two consecutive moments; the offspring therefore, being one and the same person with its progenitors until it quits them, can be held to remember what happened to them within, of course, the limitations to which all memory is subject, as much as the the progenitors can remember what happen earlier to themselves. Whether it does so remember can only be settled by observing whether it acts as living beings commonly do when they are acting under the guidance of memory. I will endeavour to show that, though heredity and habit based on memory go about in different dresses, yet if we catch them separately — for they are never seen together — and strip them there is not a
133 134


Butler, Essential, pp. 369-70. Ibid., pp. 376-377. 135 Ibid., pp. 381-83.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw mole nor strawberry-mark nor trick nor leer of the one, but we find in the other also,136 For Butler then heredity and memory are identical, further the offspring and its progenitors are identical down to the unicellular animal from whom our descent is traced. (Offspring and progenitors are identical in the sense that there is continual descent from the parents who each impart their characteristics to the ultimate descendant.) Shaw's own view of this matter of the inheritance of habits is given in several places, among them the passage quoted above, that in learning a new habit the succeeding generation relapses to a point which is not the beginning but is so near as to be indistinguishable from it. A comparison of two passages, one from Shaw and one from Butler, who is quoting from Life and Habit, shows their essential agreement in this matter. For instance, the very first act of your son when he enters the world as a separate individual is to yell with indignation: that yell which Shakespear thought the most tragic and piteous of all sounds. In the act of yelling he begins to breathe: another habit, and not even a necessary one, as the object of breathing can be achieved in other ways, as by deep sea fishes. He circulates his blood by pumping it with his heart. He demands a meal, and proceeds to at once to perform the most elaborate chemical operations on the food he swallows. He manufactures teeth; discards them; and replaces them with fresh ones. Compared to these habitual feats, walking, standing upright, and bicycling are the merest trifles; yet it is only by going through the the wanting, trying process that he can stand, walk, or cycle, whereas in the other and far more difficult and complex habits he not only does not consciously try, but actually consciously objects very strongly. (II, xxiv) 'Shall we say that a baby of a day old sucks (which involves the whole principle of the pump and hence a profound practical knowledge of the laws of pneumatics and hydrostatics), digests, oxygenizes its blood — millions of years before anyone had discovered oxygen — sees and hears, operations that involve an unconscious knowledge of the facts concerning optics and acoustics compared with which the conscious discoveries of Newton are insignificant — shall we say that a baby can do all these things at once, doing them so well and so regularly without being even able to give them attention, and yet without mistake, and shall we also say at the same time that it has not learnt to do them, and never did them before? "Such an assertion would contradict the whole experience of mankind.137 Shaw also uses the principle that ontogeny reproduces phylogeny as means of showing how it may be possible in the course of evolution for Baby Raphael to eventually be born an accomplished painter, much as in the fifth play of the Methusalah cycle the Newly Born comes into the world able to talk and to make love. (II, xxv - xxix) This is more or less in line with Butler's view, although Butler does not seem to believe that habits such as painting are likely to be acquired in the womb. In fact Butler seems to believe that habits such as talking, painting and so on always are and always will be acquired after birth. Butler summarizes as follows:


136 137

Ibid., pp. 397-98. Ibid., p. 398.

Thomas E. Hart I. That we are most conscious of and have most control over such habits as speech, the upright position, the arts and sciences — which are acquisitions peculiar to the human race, always acquired after birth, and not common to ourselves and any ancestor who had not become entirely human. II. That we are less conscious of and have less control over eating and drinking (provided the food be normal), swallowing, breathing, seeing and hearing — which were acquisitions of our prehuman ancestry, and for which we had provided ourselves with all the necessary apparatus before we saw light, but which are still, geologically speaking, recent. III. That we are most unconscious of and have least control over our digestion and circulation — powers possessed even by our invertebrate ancestry, and geologically speaking, of extreme antiquity. 138 On the fourth and final point of the Lamarckian position that design or mind is behind the force of evolution, a comparison of a passage from Shaw and a passage from Butler should be sufficient to show the extent to which they agreed on this point. If my finger is the organ by which I grasp the sword and the mandoline, my brain is the organ by which Nature strives to understand itself. My dog's brain serves only my dog's purposes; but my brain labors at a knowledge which does nothing for me personally but make my body bitter to me and my decay and death a calamity. Were I not possessed with a purpose beyond my own I had better be a ploughman than a philosopher; for the ploughman lives as long as the philosopher, eats more, sleeps better, and rejoices in the wife of his bosom with less misgiving. This is because the philosopher is in the grip of the Life Force. This Life Force says to him "I have done a thousand wonderful things unconsciously by merely willing to live and following the line of least resistance: now I want to know myself and my destination, and choose my path; so I have made a special brain — a philosopher's brain — to grasp this knowledge for me as the husbandman's hand grasps the plough for me. And this" says the Life Force to the philosopher "must thou strive to do for me until thou diest, when I will make another brain and another philosopher to carry on the work." (III, 645-46) Those who examine the main facts of animal organization without bias will, no doubt, ere long conclude that all animals and vegetables are derived ultimately from unicellular organisms, but they will not less readily perceive that the evolution of species without the concomitance and direction of mind and effort is as inconceivable as is the independent creation of every individual species. The two facts, evolution ad design, are equally patent to plain people. There is no escaping from either. According to Messrs. Darwin and Wallace, we may have evolution, but are on no account to have it as mainly due to intelligent effort, guided by ever higher and higher range of sensations, perceptions and ideas. We are to set it down to the shuffling of the cards, or the throwing of the dice without the play, and this will never stand. According to the older men, cards did indeed count for much, but play counted for more. They denied the teleology of the time — that is to the teleology that saw all


Ibid., p. 397.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw adaptation to surroundings as part of a plan devised long ages since by a quasi-anthropomorphic being who schemed everything out much as a man would do, but on an infinite vaster scale. this concept they found repugnant alike to intelligence and conscience, but, though they do not seem to have perceived it, they left the door open for a design more true and more demonstrable than that which they excluded. By making their variations mainly due to effort and intelligence, they made organic development run on all-fours with human progress, and with inventions which we have watched growing up from small beginnings. They made the development of man from the amoeba part and parcel of the story that may be read, though on an infinitely smaller scale, in the development of our most powerful marine engines from the common kettle, or of our finest microscopes from the dewdrop.139 What we see in these passages is Shaw asserting in poetic and symbolic language, the preeminence of mind, first as the starting point of evolution and secondly as being its own ultimate goal. Shaw, in Lilith's speech, which is given at the opening of this chapter, again asserts the presence of mind in the universe. Lilith is, in Shaw's mythology, the prototypical being who by cleaving herself in two created Adam and Eve and thus started the process of human evolution. Butler in his more pedestrian — and necessarily less poetic — style asserts that there is a will or mind behind evolution which is indwelling and vivifying, which "makes the universe the body of God," and "God the soul of the universe."140 This will which made possible organic adaptation also led to the development of steam engines and microscopes from the common kettle and the dewdrop respectively. Shaw and Butler share the four beliefs stated above and Butler seems to have been a major influence in the development of Shaw's mature ideas about creative evolution. Certainly not all of Shaw's philosophy can be traced to Butler; his implied dualism, at least as expressed in Lilith's concluding speech, cannot be traced to Butler. The stated antipathy between mind and matter, or spirit and matter, is of course, endemic in Christianity as well as in idealist philosophy of all times. Neither can the idea of extending the lifespan to three hundred years, which became an idee fixe with Shaw in his later years, be laid at Butler's doorstep. What can be traced Butler is the literary beginning of the Lamarckian defense against Darwinism. Butler's and Shaw's defense of Lamarckian doctrine may ultimately prove to be an error; however, Lamarckism, like Darwinism itself, is probably, as Shaw suggested, incapable of either proof or refutation. Butler's and Shaw's shared belief in the creative power of evolution is for both a system that comes near to being a religion and like all religions is based on faith. The transition from Butler to Bergson is the transition from a brilliant writer of polemic and invective to an equally brilliant writer of philosophic analysis who is attempting and who succeeds in conveying an attitude of equanimity and fair-mindedness. Bergson may or may not have been known to Shaw, his ideas were certainly in the air in the days before World War I, so that it is not necessary to prove an extensive familiarity with Bergson on the part of Shaw existed; however, in the course of this section I hope to show that Shaw, whether or not he had actually read Bergson, did strike notes similar to those Bergson sounded and that he does utilize at least one of the ideas that Bergson proclaimed in Creative Evolution.
139 140


Ibid., pp. 364-65. Ibid., p. 365.

Thomas E. Hart Since we are concerned only with e purely evolutionary parts of Bergson's philosophy and those parts concerning dualism and the purpose of existence, we shall ignore his statements concerning duration, art, and the evidence from various learned journals, mostly French and German, that he musters to support his thesis. Many of his statements are couched in jargon of the biologist and these statements, although interpretable, are not necessary to our project. The first thing with which we are necessarily concerned is his criticism of Darwinism and neo-Lamarckism. this criticism is applied primarily to the doctrine of selection and falls into three parts. The first is his criticism of the doctrine of the accumulation of insensible variation; the second criticism is that of the doctrine of the sudden leap, or mutation; the third criticism, which deals with the neo-Lamarckians, is of the doctrine of effort. Bergson's criticism of the mechanistic philosophy underlying Darwinism is quite lengthy but it must be dealt with in detail if we are to fully understand the similarities and differences between his and Shaw. Bergson, in speaking of the controversy over whether the environment directly or indirectly influences the course of evolution, says: Let us first remark that, of the two hypotheses just described, the latter is the only one which is not equivocal. The Darwinian idea of adaptation by automatic elimination of the unadapted is a simple and clear idea. But, just because it attributes to the outer cause which controls evolution a merely negative influence, it has great difficulty in accounting for the progressive and, so to say, rectilinear development of complex apparatus such as we are about to examine. How much greater will this difficulty be in the case of the similar structure of two extremely complex organs on two entirely different lines of evolution!141 The rest of Bergson's discussion of the mode of evolution is an attempt to discover how tow species separated long ago have arrived at the same or at homologous organs, e.g., how plants and animals arrived at bisexual reproduction or how the mollusk, such as the Pecten (a type of scallop) and the vertebrate managed to produce eyes that identical in structure. Bergson asks the question: "How can accidental causes, occurring in an accidental order, be supposed to have repeatedly come to the same result, the causes being infinitely numerous and the effect infinitely complicated?" (64) the answer, according to Bergson, is that it cannot occur. Let us assume, to begin with, the Darwinian theory of insensible variations, and suppose the occurrence of small differences due to chance, and continually accumulating. It must not be forgotten that all the parts of an organism are necessarily co-ordinated. whether the function be an effect of the organ or its cause, it matters little; one point is certain — the organ will be of no use and will not give selection a hold unless it functions. However the minute structure of the retina may develop, and however complicated it may become, such progress, instead of favoring vision, will probably hinder it if the visual centers do not develop at the same time, as well as the several parts of the visual organ itself. If the variations are accidental, how can they ever agree to arise in every part of the organ at the same time, in such a way that the organ will continue to perform its function? Darwin quite understood this; it is one of the reasons why he regarded variation as insensible. For a difference which arises accidentally at one point of the visual apparatus, if it be very slight, will not hinder the functioning of the organ; and hence this first accidental variation can, in a sense, wait
Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, trans Arthur Mitchell (New York: The Modern Library, 1944), p. 63. All subsequent references are to this edition and are cited by page in the text.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw for complementary variations to accumulate and raise vision to a higher degree of perfection. Granted; but while the insensible variation does not hinder the functioning of the eye, neither does it help it, so long as the variations are complementary do not occur. How, in that case, can the variation be retained by natural selection? Unwittingly one will reason as if the slight variation were a toothing stone set up by the organism and reserved for a later construction. This hypothesis, so little conformable to the Darwinian principle, is difficult enough to avoid even in the case of an organ which has been developed along one single main line of evolution, e.g. the vertebrate eye. But it is absolutely forced upon us when we observe the likeness of structure of the vertebrate eye and that of the mollusks. How could the same small variations, incalculable in number, have ever occurred in the same order on two independent lines of evolution, if they were purely accidental? And how could they have been preserved by selection and accumulated in both cases, the same in the same order, when each of them, taken separately, was of no use. (72-73)142 As Bergson will later make clear, the variation, if it is to be of use to the organism, necessarily involves a modification of the entire organism so that the variation may be preserved. The hypothesis of sudden variation or mutation involves difficulties that are equally great. As Bergson says of this theory: It certainly lessens the difficulty on one point, but it makes it much worse on another. If the eye of the mollusk and that of the vertebrate have both been raised to their present form by a relatively small number of sudden leaps, I have less difficulty in understanding the resemblance of the two organs than if this resemblance were due to an incalculable number of infinitesimal resemblances acquired successively: in both cases it is chance that operates, but in the first case chance is not required to work the miracle it would have to perform in the second. Not only is the number of resemblances to be added somewhat reduced, but I can also understand better how each could be preserved and added to the others; for the elementary variation is now considerable enough to be an advantage to the living being, and so to lend itself to the play of selection. (73-74) Of course the difficulty here is how the organ, which had been functioning adequately before, is able to accept the variation which suddenly arises. How, especially, can we suppose that by a series of mere "accidents" these sudden variations occur, the same, in the same order — involving in each case a perfect harmony of elements more and more numerous and complex — along two independent lines of evolution? (74) Under the laws of mechanistic philosophy as Bergson states them the same effect is produced by the same or similar causes. Bergson has drawn his examples heretofore from phylogeny (the origin of species), he now goes on to draw examples from ontogeny (the individual growth): "Every moment, right before our eyes, nature arrives at identical results, in sometimes neighboring species, by entirely different embryonic processes." (84) He goes on to cite the differences in the embryonic development of eye and the mollusk:


The italicized portions are in the original, as they are in the rest of the statements from Bergson that are quoted.


Thomas E. Hart we may point out that the retina of the vertebrate is produced by an expansion in the rudimentary brain of the young embryo. It is a regular nervous center which has moved toward the periphery. In the mollusk, on the contrary, the retina is derived from the ectoderm directly, and not indirectly by means of the embryonic encephalon. (84) Finally Bergson cites the development of the lens in the Triton: If the crystalline lens of a triton be removed, it is regenerated by the iris. Now, the original lens was built out of the ectoderm, while the iris is of mesodermic origin. What is more, in the Salamandra maculata, if the lens be removed and the iris left, the regeneration of lens takes place at the upper part of the iris; but if this upper part of the iris itself be taken away, the regeneration takes place in the inner or retinal layer of the remaining region. Thus, parts differently situated, differently constituted, meant normally for different functions, are capable of performing the same duties and even of manufacturing, when necessary, the same pieces of the machine. Here we have, indeed, the same effect obtained by different combinations of causes. (84-85) The hypothesis of insensible accidental variations the hypothesis of sudden accidental variations are both found to be inadequate for the convergence of evolutionary development in two widely separated phyla. Bergson then turns to the only evolutionary theory that was non-mechanistic, that of neo-Lamarckism. Bergson dismisses the the neo-Lamarckian contention that new habits can be acquired because the acquisition of a new habit does not result in a change in the germ plasm. Bergson would thus dismiss Shaw's example of the bicyclist as ridiculous. "In general, therefore, the habits formed by an individual have probably no echo in its offspring; and when they have, the modification in the descendants may have no visible likeness to the original one." (93) Bergson finally concludes that neo-Lamarckism cannot solve the problem of evolution either. Now, even if we take the most favorable view of the theory of the transmissibility of acquired characters, and assume that the ostensible acquired character is not, in most cases, the more or less tardy development of an innate character, facts show us that hereditary transmission is the exception and not the rule. How, then, shall we expect it to develop an organ such as the eye? When we think of the enormous number of variations, all in the same direction, that we must suppose to be accumulated before the passage from the pigment-spot of the Infusorian to the eye of the mollusk and of the vertebrate is possible, we do not see how heredity as we observe it, could even have determined this piling-up of differences, even supposing that individual efforts could have produced each of them singly. That is to say that neo-Lamarckism in no more able than any other form of evolutionism to solve the problem. (94) However, each of these schools is right in its own way and Bergson's enumeration of arguments and disagreements may be useful. The neo-Darwinians are probably right, we believe, when they teach that the essential causes of variation are the differences inherent in the germ borne by the individual, and not the experiences or behavior of the individual in the course of his career. Where we fail to follow these biologist, is in regarding the differences inherent in the germ as purely accidental and individual. We cannot help believing that these differences are the development of an impulsion which passes from germ to germ across the individuals, that they might well appear at the same time, in the same


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw form, in all the representatives of the same species, or at least a certain number of them. Already, in fact, the theory of mutation is modifying Darwinism profoundly on this point. It asserts that at a given moment, after a long period, the entire species is beset with a tendency to change. The tendency to change, therefore, is not accidental. (95) We thus arrive at a hypothesis like Eimer's, according to which the variations of different characters continue from generation to generation in definite directions. this hypothesis seems plausible to us, within the limits in which Eimer himself retains it. Of course, the evolution of the organic world cannot be predetermined as a whole. We claim, on the contrary, that the spontaneity of life is manifested by a continual creation new forms succeeding others. But this indetermination cannot be complete; it must leave a certain part to determination. An organ like the eye, for example, must have been formed by just a continual changing in a definite direction. Indeed, we do not see how otherwise to explain the likeness of structure of the eye in species that have not the same history. Where we differ from Eimer is in his claim that combinations of physical and chemical causes are enough to secure the result. We have tried to prove, on the contrary, by the example of the eye, that if there is "orthogenesis" here, a psychological cause intervenes. Certain neo-Lamarckians do indeed resort to a cause of a psychological nature. There, to our thinking, is one of the most solid positions of neo-Lamarckism. But if this cause is nothing but the conscious effort of the individual, it cannot operate in more than a restricted number of cases—at most in the animal world, and not at all in the vegetable kingdom. Even in animals, it will act only on points which are under the direct or indirect control of the will. And even where it does act, it is not clear how it could compass a change so profound as an increase of complexity: at most this would be conceivable if the acquired characters were regularly transmitted so as to be added together; but this transmission seems to be the exception rather than the rule. A hereditary change in a definite direction, which continues to accumulate and add to itself so as to build up a more and more complex machine, must certainly be related to some sort of effort, but to an effort of far greater depth than the individual effort, far more independent of circumstances, an effort common to most representatives of the same species, inherent in the germs they bear rather than in their substance alone, an effort thereby assured of being passed on their descendants. (96-97) Since each of these schools of thought leaves Bergson dissatisfied, he is brought back to the idea of a vital force, a prime mover as it were: So we come back, by a somewhat roundabout way, to the idea we started from, that of an original impetus of life, passing from one generation of germs to the following generation of germs through the developed organisms which bridge the interval between the generations. This impetus, sustained right along the lines of evolution among which it gets divided, is the fundamental cause of variations, at least of those that are regularly passed on, that accumulate and create new species. In general, when species have begun to diverge from a common stock, they accentuate their divergence as they progress in their evolution. Yet, in certain definite points, they may evolve identically; in fact, they must do so if the hypothesis of a common impetus be accepted. (97-98)


Thomas E. Hart Bergson then is accepting the notion of an original impetus, or life force as Shaw called it, that lies behind all evolution. Shaw, however, saw the life force as striving for intellect, and intellect of a particular kind, the contemplative intellect. Bergson's analysis is more complex, and he sees life as manifesting itself in two forms, instinct and intellect. We need not dwell here on the role of instinct in Bergson's philosophy since what we are concerned with is an exposition of his philosophy to see how it relates Shaw's thought and Shaw placed the primary emphasis on the intellect. Bergson's contention is that instinct, intelligence, and torpor are three different qualities: The cardinal error which, from Aristotle onwards, has vitiated most of the philosophies of nature is to see in the vegetative, instinctive and rational life, three successive degrees of the development of one and the same tendency, whereas they are three divergent directions of an activity that has split up as it grew. The difference between them is not a difference of intensity, nor, more generally, of degree, but of kind. (149) What is intelligence? The answer would seem to be simple than the answer to Pilate's question and to Bergson the answer comes fairly readily: "intelligence, considered in what seems to its original feature, is the faculty of manufacturing artificial objects, especially tools to make tools, and of indefinitely varying the manufacture." (153-54) Instinct, however, is of a different nature entirely: "instinct perfected is a faculty of using and even of constructing organized instruments; intelligence perfected is the faculty of making and using unorganized instruments." (155) Bergson by organized and unorganized means matter that has been formed into a living part of the body, an organ, in the first instance, and matter that is not organic, e.g., a stone ax, in the second instance. There is no way of telling which way will be more advantageous to the paths of evolution, in fact it might be said with Shaw's devil, especially considering the events of the last seventy years, that intelligence has so far made a pretty mess, but as Bergson says: At the outset, the advantages and drawbacks of the artificial instrument and of the natural instrument balance so well that it is hard to foretell which of the two will secure to the living being the greater empire over nature. (156) The force behind evolution is finite in its strength and not infinite as Lilith pictured it: If the force immanent in life were an unlimited force, it might perhaps have developed instinct and intelligence together, and to any extent, in the same organisms. but everything seems to indicate that this force is limited, and that it soon exhausts itself in its very manifestation. It is hard for it to go far in several directions at once: it must choose. Now, it has the choice between two modes of acting on the material world: it can either effect this action directly by creating an organized instrument to work with; or else it can effect it indirectly through an organism which, instead of possessing the required instrument naturally, will itself construct it by fashioning inorganic matter. Hence intelligence and instinct, which diverge more and more as they develop, but which never entirely separate from each other. (156-57) Nature has, in the animal kingdom, evolved in two directions: "nature has frankly evolved in the direction of instinct in the arthropods, we observe in almost all the vertebrates the striving after rather than the expansion of intelligence." (157) The development of intelligence was a high risk speculation and, according to Bergson, nature seems to have been a gambler rather than a banker: "Here again, then, the greatest success was achieved on the side of the greatest risk. Instinct and intelligence therefore represent two divergent solutions, equally fitting, of one and the same problem." (158) Intelligence was capable of achieving greater results than instinct by its capacity for operating on unformed matter. It is this capacity for acting on


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw unformed matter and for making tools that has enabled intelligence to gain mastery over nature. The essential difference between instinct and intelligence is expressed by Bergson: "while instinct and intelligence both involve knowledge, this knowledge is rather acted and unconscious in the case of instinct, thought and conscious in the case of intelligence." (160) Much of what Bergson has to say on intelligence is interesting but must be passed over in silence since it would inundate the reader with a mass of information which has no bearing on our subject. We shall therefore passover certain kinds of knowledge in instinct and intelligence. What is of interest in relation to Shaw is that as we saw in Man and Superman and Back to Methusalah Shaw held that the purpose of life was to become conscious and aware of itself. This increase in awareness was to come through an increase of intellectuality. Bergson denies that this is possible. The intellect deals of necessity with flux and change, it is incapable of dealing with what in Oriental religion, such as Zen Buddhism, is called the Tao: Precisely because it is always trying to reconstitute, and to reconstitute with what is given, the intellect lets what is new in each moment of history escape. (180) We are at ease only in the discontinuous, in the immobile, in the dead. The intellect is characterized by a natural inability to comprehend life. (182) What then is the place of intelligence and of man, homo faber as Bergson, following Marx, names him, in the universe? Instinct is sympathy. If this sympathy could extend its object and also reflect upon itself, it would give us the key to vital operations—just as intelligence, developed and disciplined, guides into matter. For—we cannot too often repeat it—intelligence and instinct are turned in opposite directions, the former toward inert matter, the latter toward life. Intelligence, by means of science, which is its work, will deliver up to us more and more completely the secret of physical operations; of life it brings us, and moreover only claims to bring us, a translation in terms of inertia. It goes all round life, taking from outside the greatest possible number of views of it, drawing it into itself instead of entering into it. But it is to the very inwardness of life that intuition leads us—by intuition I mean instinct that has become disinterested, self-conscious, capable of reflecting upon its object and of enlarging it indefinitely. (194) Bergson has taken refuge in a quality which he sees as combining the reflective nature of intellect with the sympathy of instinct. Bergson then moves on to discuss the relation of the mind to the body. We have already discussed this point at length in the introduction. Bergson contends that it is the mind or consciousness that governs the body. The passage is of some length but it is worth quoting more or less in its entirety. Throughout the whole extent of the animal kingdom, we have said, consciousness seems proportionate to the living being's power of choice. It lights up the zone of potentialities that surrounds the act. It fills the interval between what is done and what might be done. Looked at from without, we may regard it as a simple aid to action, a light that action kindles, a momentary spark flying up from the friction of real action against possible actions. But we must also point out that thing would go on in just the same way if consciousness, instead of being the effect, were the cause. we might suppose that consciousness, even in the most rudimentary animal, covers by right an enormous field, but is compressed in fact in a kind of vise: each advance of the the


Thomas E. Hart nervous centers, by giving the organism a choice between a larger number of actions, calls forth the potentialities that are capable of surrounding the real, thus opening the vise wider and allowing consciousness to pass more freely. In this second hypothesis, as in the first, consciousness is still the instrument of action; but it is even more true to say that action is the instrument of consciousness; for the complicating of action with action, and the opposing of action to action, are for the imprisoned consciousness the only possible means to set itself free. How, then, shall we choose between the two hypotheses? If the first is true, consciousness must express exactly, at each instant, the state of the brain; there is strict parallelism (so far as intelligible) between the psychical and the cerebral state. On the second hypothesis, on the contrary, there is indeed solidarity and interdependence between the brain and consciousness, but not parallelism: the more complicated the brain become, thus giving the organism greater choice of possible actions, the more does consciousness outrun its physical concomitant. Thus, the recollection of the same spectacle probably modifies in the same a dog's brain and a man's brain; yet the recollection must be very different in the man's consciousness from what it is in the dog's. In the dog, the recollection remains the captive of perception; it is brought back to consciousness only when an analogous perception recalls it by reproducing the same spectacle, and then it is manifested by the recognition, acted rather than thought, of the present perception much more than by an actual reappearance of the recollection itself. Man, on the contrary, is capable of calling up the recollection at will, at any moment, independently of the present perception. He is not limited to playing his past life again; he represents and dreams it. The local modification of the brain to which the recollection is attached being the same in each case, the psychological difference between the two recollections cannot have its ground in a particular difference of detail between the two cerebral mechanisms, but in the difference between the two brains taken each as a whole. The more complex of the two, inputting a greater number of mechanisms in opposition to one another, has enabled consciousness to disengage itself from the restraint of one and all and to reach independence. That things do happen in this way, that the second of the two hypotheses is that which must be chosen, is what we have tried to prove in a former work, by the study of facts that best bring into relief the relation of the conscious state to the cerebral state, the facts of normal and pathological recognition, in particular the form of aphasia. But it could have been proved by pure reasoning, before even it was evidenced by facts. We have shown on what self-contradictory postulate, on what confusion of two mutually incompatible symbolisms, the hypothesis of equivalence between the cerebral and the psychic state rests. (197-99) Life to Bergson is simply matter charged with consciousness. "It is as if a broad current of consciousness had penetrated matter, loaded, as all consciousness is, with an enormous multiplicity of interwoven potentialities." (199) The direction of life is governed by whether the attention has been turned inward or outward: "Life, that is to say consciousness launched into matter, fixed its attention either on its own movement or on the matter it was passing through; and it has thus been turned either in the direction of intuition or in that of intellect." (199) Here we are getting very close to the poetic rhapsodies of Lilith. The uniqueness of man lies in his ability to use tools and his ability to use language, itself a complex and sophisticated tool of the intellect. Bergson takes note of this:


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw when we compare the brain of man with that of the animals[,] [t]he difference at first appears to be only a difference of size and complexity. But judging by function, there must be something else besides. In the animal, the motor mechanisms that the brain succeeds in setting up, or, in other words, the habits contracted voluntarily, have no other object nor effect than the accomplishment of the movements marked out in these habits, stored in these mechanism. But, in man, the motor habit may have a second result, out of proportion to the first: it can hold other motor habits in check, and thereby, in overcoming automatism, set consciousness free. We know what vast regions in the human brain language occupies. The cerebral mechanisms that correspond to the words have this in particular, that they can be made to grapple with other mechanisms, those, for instance, that correspond to the things themselves, or even be made to grapple with one another. Meanwhile consciousness, which would have been dragged down and drowned in the accomplishment of the act, is restored and set free. (201-02) Then the teleological purpose of evolution is summarized: If, now, we should wish to express this in terms of finality, we should have to say that consciousness, after having been obliged, in order to set itself free, to divide organization into two complementary parts, vegetables on one hand and animals on the other, has sought an issue in the double direction of instinct and of intelligence. It has not found it with instinct, and it has not obtained it one the side of intelligence except by a sudden leap from the animal to man. so that, in the last analysis, man might be considered the reason for the existence of the entire organization of life on our planet. But this would be only a manner of speaking. There is, in reality, only a current of existence and the opposing current; thence proceeds the whole evolution of life. (203) Shaw's words, admittedly in Lilith's mouth, seem almost a paraphrase of Bergson's book. Consciousness, or life, has had to take to matter to achieve its goals but Shaw has chosen a dualistic framework, he sees matter and life as antagonistic and mutually opposed which Bergson does not. Bergson speaks of the three alternative solutions to the mind-body problem and poses a fourth: the conclusion that there are three alternatives, and three only, among which to choose a theory of knowledge: either the mind is determined by the things, or things are determined by the mind, or between mind and things we must suppose a mysterious agreement. But the truth is that there is a fourth, which does not seem to have occurred to Kant—in the first place because he did not think that the mind overflowed the intellect, and in the second place (and this is at bottom the same thing) because he did not attribute to duration an absolute existence, having put time, a priori, on the same plane as space. this alternative consists, first of all, in regarding the intellect as a special function of the mind, essentially turned toward inert matter; then in saying that neither does matter determine the form of the intellect, nor does the intellect impose its form on matter, nor have matter and intellect been regulated in regard to one another by we know not what pre-established harmony, but that intellect and matter have progressively adapted themselves one to the other in order to attain at last a common form. This adaptation has, moreover, been brought about quite naturally, because


Thomas E. Hart it is the same inversion of the same movement which creates at once the intellectuality of mind and the materiality of things. (225-26) We might well ask how matter came into being in the first place but Bergson does not explain this so we shall simply take it that matter and life, or consciousness, are co-existent. But what would the effect be if life did become free of matter? Bergson's answer is that: The life that evolves on the surface of our planet is indeed attached to matter. If it were pure consciousness, a fortiori if it were supraconsciousness, it would be pure creative activity. In fact, it is riveted to an organism that subjects it to the general laws of inert matter. But everything happens as if it were doing its utmost to set itself free from these laws. It has not the power to reverse the direction of physical changes, such as the principle of Carnot143 determines it. It does, however, behave absolutely as a force would behave which, left to itself, would work in the inverse direction. Incapable of stopping the course of material changes downwards, it succeeds in retarding it. The evolution of life really continues, as we have shown, an initial impulsion: this impulsion which has determined the development of the chlorophyllian function in the plant and of the sensory-motor system in the animal, brings life to more and more efficient acts by the fabrication of more and more powerful explosives. Now, what do these explosives represent if not a storing-up of the solar energy, the degradation of which energy is thus provisionally suspended on some of the points where it was being poured forth? The usable energy which the explosive conceals will be expended, or course, at the moment of the explosion; but it would have been expended sooner if an organism had not happened to be there to arrest its dissipation, in order to retain it and save it up. As we see it today, at the point to which it was brought by a scission of the mutually complementary tendencies which it contained within itself, life entirely dependent of chlorophyllian function of the plant. this means that, looked at in its initial impulsion, before any scission, life was a tendency to accumulate in a reservoir, as do especially the green parts of vegetables, with a view to an instantaneous effective discharge, like that which an animal brings about, something that would have otherwise flowed away. It is like an effort to raise the weight which falls. True, it succeeds only in retarding the fall. But at least it can give us an idea of what the raising of the weight was. (268-69) The purpose of life is to retard the weight in its fall towards entropy. Life achieves its purpose through creation, but not creation ex nihil because it is confronted with that which resists, with matter, and through complexity. The impetus of life, of which we are speaking, consists in a need of creation. It cannot create absolutely, because it is confronted with matter, that is to say the movement that is the inverse of its own. But it seizes upon this matter, which is necessity itself, and strives to introduce into it the largest possible amount of indetermination and liberty. How does it go to work? An animal high in the scale may be represented in a general way, we said, as a sensory-motor nervous system imposed on digestion, respiratory, circulatory systems, etc. The function of these latter is to cleanse, repair and protect the nervous system, to make it as independent as possible of external circumstances, but, above all, to furnish
The principle of Carnot is the second law of thermodynamics that all energy seeks its lowest level, i.e. heat. Life is negative entropy.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw it with energy to be expended in movements. The increasing complexity of the organism is therefore due theoretically (in spite of innumerable exception due to accidents of evolution) to the the necessity of complexity in the nervous system. No doubt, each complication of any part of the organism involves many others in addition, because this part itself must live, and every change in one point of the body reverberates, as it were, throughout. The complication may therefore go on to infinity in all directions; but it is the complication of the nervous system which conditions the others in right, if not always in fact. (274-75) As the nervous system complexifies, our sensory motor apparatus undergoes a corresponding complication so that the more complex we are the greater our options and our freedom. Freedom and life then reside a choice among possibilities: In reality, life is of the psychological order, and it is of the essence of the psychical to enfold a confused plurality of interpenetrating terms. In space, and in space only, is distinct multiplicity possible: a point is absolutely external to another point. But pure and empty unity, also, is met with only in space; it is that of a mathematical point. Abstract unity and abstract multiplicity are determinations of space or categories of the understanding, whichever we will, spatiality and intellectuality being molded on each other. But what is of psychical nature cannot entirely correspond with space, nor enter perfectly into categories of the understanding. Is my own person, at a given moment, one or manifold? If I declare it one, inner voices arise and protest—those of the sensations, feelings, ideas, among which my individuality is distributed. But, if I make it distinctly manifold, my consciousness rebels quite as strongly; it affirms that my sensations, my feelings, my thoughts are abstractions which I effect on myself, and that each of my states implies all the others. I am then (we must adopt the language of the understanding, since only the understanding has a language) a unity that is multiple and a multiplicity that is one; but unity and multiplicity are only views of my personality taken by an understanding that directs its categories at me; I enter neither into one nor into the other nor into both at once, although both, united, may give a fair imitation of the mutual interpenetration and continuity that I find at the base of my own self. Such is my inner life, and such also is life in general. While, in its contact with matter, life is comparable to an impulsion or impetus, regarded in itself it is an immensity of potentiality, a mutual encroachment of thousands and thousands of tendencies which nevertheless are "thousands and thousands" only when regarded as outside of each other, that is, when spatialized. Contact with matter is what determines this dissociation. Matter divides actually what was but potentially manifold; and, in this sense, individuation is in part the work of matter, in part the result of life's own inclination. thus, a poetic sentiment, which bursts into distinct verses, lines and words, may be said to have already contained this multiplicity of individuated elements, and yet, in fact, it is the materiality of language that creates it. (280-82) Matter and life intertwine so that: Everything seems, therefore, to happen as if consciousness sprang from the brain, and as if the detail of conscious activity were modeled on that of the cerebral activity. In reality, consciousness does not spring from the brain; but brain and consciousness correspond because equally they measure, the one by the complexity of its structure and the other by the intensity of its awareness, the quantity of choice that the living being has at its disposal. (286)


Thomas E. Hart Because consciousness has intertwined itself with matter, Bergson is able to say "The whole history of life until man has been that of the effort of consciousness to raise matter, and of the more or less complete overwhelming of consciousness by the matter which has fallen back on it." (288) And again: It was to create with matter, which is necessity itself, an instrument of freedom, to make a machine which should triumph over mechanism, and to use the determinism of nature to pass through the meshes of the net which this very determinism had spread. But, everywhere except in man, consciousness has let itself be caught in the net whose meshes it tried to pass through: it has remained the captive of the mechanisms it has set up. Automatism, which it tries to draw in the direction of freedom, winds about it and drags it down. It has not the power to escape, because the energy it has provided for acts is almost all employed in maintaining the infinitely subtle and essentially unstable equilibrium into which it has brought matter. But man not only maintains his machine, he succeeds in in using it as he pleases. Doubtless he owes this to the superiority of his brain, which enable him to build an unlimited number of motor mechanism, to oppose new habits to the old ones unceasingly, and, by dividing the automatism against itself, to rule it. He owes it to his language, which furnishes consciousness with an immaterial body in which to incarnate itself and thus exempts it from dwelling exclusively on material bodies, whose flux would soon drag it along and finally swallow it up. He owes it to social life, which stores and preserves efforts as language stores though, fixes thereby a mean level to which individual must raise themselves at the outset, and by this initial stimulation prevents the average man from slumbering and drives the superior man to mount still higher. But our brain, our society, and our language are only the external and various sign of one and the same internal superiority. They tell, each after its manner, the unique, exceptional success which life has won at a given moment of its evolution. they express the difference of kind, and not only of degree, which separates man from the rest of the animal world. They let us guess that, while at the end of the vast spring-board from which life has taken its leap, all the others have stepped down, finding the cord stretched too high, man alone has cleared the obstacle. (288-89) Man is to Bergson the end or purpose of evolution but he has by his success lost a part of himself: "It is as if a vague and formless being, whom we may call, as we will man or superman, had sought to realize himself, and had succeeded only by abandoning a part of himself on the way." (290) Man has become intellectual at the cost of his instinctual life: Consciousness, in man, is pre-eminently intellect. It might have been, it ought, so it seems, to have been also intuition. Intuition and intellect represent two opposite directions of the work of consciousness: intuition goes in the very direction of life, intellect goes in the inverse direction, and thus finds itself naturally in accordance with the movement of matter. A complete and perfect humanity would be that in which these two forms of conscious activity should attain their full development. And, between this humanity and ours, we may conceive any number of possible stages, corresponding to all the degrees imaginable of intelligence and of intuition. In this lies the part of contingency in the mental structure of our species. A different evolution might have led to a humanity either more intellectual still or more intuitive. In the humanity of which we are a part, intuition is, in fact, almost completely sacrificed to intellect. It seems that to conquer matter and to reconquer its own self, consciousness


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw has had to exhaust the best part of its power. This conquest, in the particular conditions in which it has been accomplished, has required that consciousness should adapt itself to the habits of matter and concentrate all its attention on them, in fact determine itself more especially as intellect. Intuition is there, however, but vague and almost discontinuous. It is a lamp almost extinguished, which only glimmers now and then, for a few moments at most. But it glimmers whenever a vital interest is at stake. On our personality, on our liberty, on the place we occupy in the whole of nature, on our origin and perhaps also on our destiny, it throws a light feeble and vacillating, but which nonetheless pierces the darkness of the night in which the intellect leaves us. (291-92) This all seems very far from Shaw's philosophy and it certainly is in a technical sense and yet the recurrence of the idea that consciousness is imprisoned in matter is striking. Perhaps the difference is to be accounted for by Shaw's own preference, or passion, for the intellectual life. The most striking similarity and the most obvious difference is yet to come, however. In speaking on life and man, Bergson uses the image of the vortex which occurs so notably in Back to Methusalah: Life as a whole, from the initial impulsion that thrust it into the world, will appear as a wave which rises, and which is opposed by the descending movement of matter. On the greater part of its surface, at different heights, the current is converted by matter into a vortex. At one point alone it passes freely, dragging with it the obstacle which will weigh on its progress but will not stop it. At this point is humanity; it is our privileged situation. (293) Shaw thought of the vortex as pure force, pure energy, not as something that occurs at the interface of life and matter. And yet Bergson again anticipates Lilith's closing speech: Consciousness is distinct from the organism it animates, although it must undergo its vicissitudes. As the possible actions which a state of consciousness indicates are at every instant beginning to be carried out in the nervous centers, the brain underlies at every instant the motor indication of the state of consciousness; but the interdependency of consciousness and brain is limited to this; the destiny of consciousness is not bound up on that account with the destiny of cerebral matter. Finally, consciousness is essentially free; it is freedom itself; but it cannot pass through matter without settling on it, without adapting itself to it: this adaptation is what we call intellectuality; and the intellect, turning itself back toward active, that is to say free, consciousness, naturally makes it enter into the conceptual forms into which it is accustomed to see matter fit. It will therefore always perceive freedom in the form of necessity; it will always neglect the part of novelty or of creation inherent in the free act; it will always substitute for action itself an imitation artificial, approximative, obtained by compounding the old with the old and the same with the same. Thus, to the eyes of a philosophy that attempts to reabsorb intellect in intuition, many difficulties vanish or become light. But such a doctrine does not only facilitate speculation; it gives us also more power to act and to live. For, with it, we feel ourselves no longer isolated in humanity, humanity no longer seems isolated in the nature that it dominates. As the smallest grain of dust is bound up with our entire solar system, drawn along with it in that undivided movement of descent which is materiality itself, so all organized beings, from the humbles to the highest, from the first origins of life to the


Thomas E. Hart time in which we are, and in all places as in all times, do but evidence a single impulsion, the inverse of the movement of matter, and in itself indivisible. All the living hold together, and all yield to the same tremendous push. The animal takes its stand on the plant, man bestrides animality, and the whole of humanity, in space and in time, is one immense army galloping beside and before and behind each of us in an overwhelming charge able to beat down every resistant clear the most formidable obstacles, perhaps even death. (294-95) As rhetoric this is certainly comparable to Shaw's passage; as philosophy it sounds a note of hope and yet it recognizes that consciousness is bound up with matter. Bergson's work deals with the antithesis of life and matter. Consciousness, in order to form tools to carry out its purposes, descended into matter and fashioned first organic tools, which are instinctual, and then inorganic tools, which are intellectual. Matter a dead weight carried by life and necessary to it so that life can act on the world. Life is something which is opposed to matter, although it does seem to be co-temporal with it. Life is something which permeates only organic matter and is not to be found in the raging infernos of the stars, although it may exist on other planets, in other forms, based on other molecules than the carbon-hydrogen-nitrogen-oxygen complex that makes up our bodies. (278-79) Bergson ultimately holds out as a hope the possibility of overcoming death and in this he clearly resembles Shaw. How well did Shaw know Bergson's work? the recently published Concordance to the Plays and Prefaces of Bernard Shaw 144 lists five references to Bergson in the prefaces to Shaw's plays. Androcles and the Lion (1912) contains two references to Bergson: "It took a century and half of evolutionary preachers, from Buffon and Goethe to Butler and Bergson, to convince us that we and our father are one....." (V, 381-82) And in speaking of the religious as opposed to the Martian clergyman: Or he may be either a Unitarian Deist like Voltaire or Tom Paine, or the more modern sort of Anglican Theosophist to whom the Holy Ghost is the Elan Vital of Bergson, and the Father and Son are an expression of the fact that our functions and aspects are manifold, and that we are sons and all either potential or actual parents, in which case he is strongly suspected by the straiter Salvationists of being little better than an Atheist. (V, 475) There are also two references to Bergson in Heartbreak House (1913-19). The first is in describing the culture of Heartbreak House or "cultured, leisured Europe before the war" (I, 449): You would find Blake among the poets, and beside him Bergson, Butler, Scott Haldane, the poems of Meredith and Thomas Hardy, and, generally speaking, all the literary implements for forming the mind of the perfect modern Socialist and Creative Evolutionist. (I, 451) And in speaking of the materialism and Darwinism of the prewar years, he says: Now Heartbreak House, with Butler and Bergson and Scott Haldane alongside Blake and the other major poets on its shelves (to say nothing of Wagner and the tone poets), was not so completely blinded by the doltish materialism of the laboratories as the uncultured world outside. (I, 455)
E. Dean Bevan, ed. Concordance to the Plays and Prefaces of Bernard Shaw , 10 vols.(Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1972).


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw In the preface to Geneva (post 1945) Bergson's name is linked with that of great men: In philosophy we spot Descartes and Kant, Swift and Schopenhauer, Butler and Bergson, Richard Wagner and Karl Marx, Blake and Shelley, Ruskin and Morris, with dozens of uncrucified Jesuses and saintly women in every generation, look like vindictive retaliators pugnacious sportsmen, and devout believers in ancient tribal idols. [sic] (V, 646) In Sixteen Self-Sketches Shaw says: a natural agencies which the Churches call Providence and the scientists Phlogiston, Functional Adaptation, Natural Selection, Vis Naturae Medicatrix, the Necessary Myth, and Design in the Universe. I have called it the Life Force and the Evolutionary Appetite. Bergson called it the Elan Vitale, Kant the Categorical Imperative, Shakespear the "divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will." They all come to the same thing: a mysterious drive towards greater power over our circumstances and deeper understanding of Nature, in pursuit of which men and women will risk death as explorers or martyrs, and sacrifice their personal comfort and safety against all prudence, all probability, all common sense.145 Shaw also referred to Bergson when in an article on "Modern Religion," he noted the similarity between his term "Life Force" and Bergson's elan vital.146 In Sixteen Self-Sketches Shaw says: "And so as Bergson is the established philosopher of my sect I set myself down as a Creative Evolutionist."147 Henderson in his biography asserts that Shaw was familiar with Bergson's work while Stanley Weintraub in Journey to Heartbreak mentions that Shaw had met Bergson in May of June of 1914.148 Shaw's essential purpose in linking some of these references, which are mere listings of names, is essentially to equate things that are of rather different natures. thus Shaw equates Bergson's elan vital with the categorical imperative of Kant and with his own philosophy but this would reduce all three philosophies to absurdity if it were true. Shaw may be trying to place himself in a traditional line of thought and to gain respectability for it by associating it with Kant and Bergson. what emerges, however, is a pattern that is similar to Shaw's use of Nietzsche. Shaw appropriated certain ideas and phrases from Bergson, such as the vortex and the interpenetration of consciousness and matter, which was to Shaw a descent and a fall, and made them his own in much the same way that he borrowed the Nietzschean Übermensch and changed it into the Shavian superman. Bergson seems to a large extent to have confirmed and developed the ideas that Shaw already had. Shaw did not, of course, swallow Bergson's work whole, Shaw's value judgments are his own, his denigration of the instinctual and elevation of the intellectual faculties is uniquely his own. Shaw has no place for intuition in his scheme of things and he envisions life as becoming freed of matter. Bergson defines intuition as instinct imbued with intellect and become selfconscious and reflective. The Shavian unity of passion and intellect, although perhaps tenuously analogous to Bergson's concept of intuition, is distinct from it in that Shavian passion is passion in the sense of attraction or repulsion and is not, as Bergson calls instinct, the ability for fashion organic tools. Bergson is ambiguous about the destiny of consciousness.
George Bernard Shaw, Sixteen Self-Sketches (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1949), p. 126. Warren Sylvester Smith, ed., The eligious Speeches of Bernard Shaw (University Park: The Pennsylvania University Press, 1963), p. 77. 147 Shaw, Sixteen Self-Sketches, p. 125. See also p 160. 148 Henderson, p. 140. Weintraub, p. 11.
146 145


Thomas E. Hart Consciousness does not need to co-exist with matter and yet it always occurs within matter. Consciousness freed from matter would be supraconsciousness and it seems to be this idea that Shaw picked up from Bergson and developed. If we have so far concentrated on the preface, in connection with Butler, and As Far as Thought Can Reach, in connection with Bergson, it is only because these sections of the cycle contain the most direct exposition of the ideas in Shaw's "metabiological pentateuch." The four plays preceding As Far as Thought Can Reach provide mythological and satiric material which has already been mentioned in connection with Butler and Bergson. The first play of the Methusalah cycle, In the Beginning, is Shaw's rewriting of Genesis. Adam is tired of the prospect of eternal life and the sight of a dead fawn stirs him to a contemplation of the boredom of immortality and decides to limit his life span to a term of a thousand years. He binds his will by a vow but as the snake has advised him: THE SERPENT. I make no vows. I take my chance. ADAM. Chance? What does that mean? THE SERPENT. It means that I fear certainty you fear uncertainty. It means that nothing certain but uncertainty. If I bind the future I bind my will. If I bind my will I strangle creation. (II, 18) The snake, who is a rather charming character as snakes go, has also commented on the way in which Adam and Eve acquired muscle by an act of will: THE SERPENT. ...imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will. EVE. How can I create out of nothing? THE SERPENT. Everything must have been created out of nothing. Look at that thick roll of hard flesh on your strong arm! That was not always there: you could not climb a tree when I first saw you. But you willed and tried and willed and tried; and your will created out of nothing the roll on your arm until you had your desire, and could draw yourself up with one hand and seat yourself on the bough that was above your head. (II, 10) We have already seen Shaw in the preface postulating the precedence of will over matter and the extent to which the will was able to bend and shape matter to its own purposes. The second act of the play contrasts Adam, Cain, and Eve. Adam is content merely to dig in the in the garden. Cain has invented murder, war, and religion, and is a bogus Nietzschean superman and proto-Jingoist in much of his dialogue: "I have striven with a boar and with a lion as to which of us should kill the other. I have striven with a man: spear to spear and shield to shield. It is terrible but there is no joy like it. I call it fighting. He who has never fought has never lived." (II, 22) And: I have imagined a glorious poem of many men, of more men than there are leaves on a thousand trees. I will divide them into two great hosts. One of them I will lead; and the other will be led by the man I fear most and desire to fight and kill most. And each host shall try to kill the other host. Think of that! all those multitudes of men fighting, fighting, killing, killing! The four rivers running with blood! The shouts of triumph! the howls of rage! the curses of despair! the shrieks of torment! That will be life indeed: life lived to the very marrow: burning overwhelming life. Every man who has not seen it, heard it, felt it, risked it, will feel a humbled fool in the presence of the man who has. (II, 22)


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw And: "There is something higher than man. There is hero and superman." (II, 24) Eve, however, has a fondness for the makers and dreamers such as Tubal and Enoch, for the visionaries capable of having dreams of that never were and asking why not. (II, 31-32) War and murder, which were Cain's invention have shortened mankind's life so that Eve's children barely get out of childhood before dying. This is the genesis of the race of short-livers. Shaw had said in Man and Superman that: "Sexually, woman is Nature's contrivance for perpetuating its highest achievement." (III, 624) We find the snake describing the birth of Adam and Eve in similar terms: I remember Lilith, who came before Adam and Eve. I was her darling as I am yours. She was alone: there was no man with her. She saw death as you saw it when the fawn fell; and she knew then that she must find out how to renew herself and cast the skin like me. She had a might will: she strove and strove and willed and willed for more moons than there are leaves on all the trees of the garden. Her pangs were terrible: her groans drove sleep from Eden. she said it must never be again: that the burden of renewing life was past bearing: that it was too much for one. And when she cast the skin, lo! there was not one new Lilith but two: one like herself, the other like Adam. You were the one: Adam was the other. (II, 9) The character of Lilith has been changed from the original Talmudic conception of Lilith as Adam's first wife to that of a proto-being who differentiated herself into male and female. The second third plays contain much that has reference to the events of the war and much satire of Asquith and Lloyd George. The main element which is added is the doctrine that life must be extended to a period of three hundred years. The maid and the parson of the second play reappear in the third as pair of long-livers and apparently agree to try to produce a race of long-lived people. The fourth play The Tragedy of An Elderly Gentleman shows the long-lived people as having taken over Ireland and driven the British Empire back to Baghdad. The long-lived residents of Ireland are divided into two parties We have two great parties: the Conservative party and the Colonization party. The Colonizers are of opinion that we should increase our numbers and colonize. the conservative hold that we should stay as we are, confined to these islands, a race apart, wrapped up in the majesty of our wisdom on a soil held as holy ground for us by an adoring world, with our sacred frontier traced beyond dispute by the sea. they contend that it is our destiny to rule the world, and that even when we were shortlived we did so. They say that our power and our peace depend on our remoteness, our exclusiveness, our separation, and the restriction of our numbers. (II, 169) The short-lived visitors are also subject to a disease, occasioned by coming into contact with the long-lived: "Were you not warned that it is dangerous for shortlived people to come to this country? there is a deadly disease called discouragement, against which shortlived people have to take very strict precautions. Intercourse with us puts too great a strain on them." (II, 140) The fifth play shows short-lived people and many animals exterminated. Children are produced oviparously and have four year adolescence at the end of which they go off to contemplate and eventually become ancients. Food is, apparently, assimilated completely or else is not eaten, their diet may well be the air and water mention the fourth play of FarFetched Fables.


Thomas E. Hart Dramatically the plays are uneven, varying from the intense poetry of the first play and the visionary ending of the last play to the familiar Shavian satire of prime minister and politics in the remaining plays. The fifth play is dramatically static and lacking in any real conflict but is intensely interesting for its vision of a society which has apparently fulfilled the old Marxist dictum "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need." The plays over all express in a mythic fashion Shaw's beliefs regarding evolution and the future of the race. Shaw's views seem to have come through the crucible of the years of the First World War transformed from his former optimism into the pessimism of Back to Methusalah, which see hope for man only if he will live for three hundred years.


CHAPTER THREE THE SIMPLETON OF THE UNEXPECTED ISLES The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles is far from being Shaw's best play or even a very good play but for the student of Shaw's philosophical ideas it contains at least one interesting idea. This idea is essentially that each person in society should somehow prove his worth, his social utility, or be eliminated as unfit to carry on in civilized society. This idea, as well as Shaw's seeming support of Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini, horrified Shaw's authorized biographer Archibald Henderson; however, Shaw had advocated this idea at least as early as 1914 as show in Stanley Weintraub's Journey to Heartbreak. 149 What I hope to show is the place that this doctrine plays in Shaw's philosophy and the idea is not wholly original with Shaw but that it probably originates with William Blake. Shaw's belief that human beings must justify their existence was present as early as 1914 but his conviction would seem to go back as far as 1903 when he was writing Man and Superman or possibly even to 1898 when he wrote in The Perfect Wagnerite: The majority of men at present in Europe have no business to be alive; and no serious progress will be made until we address ourselves earnestly and scientifically to the task of producing trustworthy human material for society. In short, it is necessary to breed a race of men in whom the life-giving impulses predominate before the New Protestantism becomes politically practicable.150 Here we see the advocate of eugenics and with him the weeder of the garden appearing for the first time. In The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion, Shaw describes the role of the glutton and the voluptuary in evolution: The part played in evolution by the voluptuary will be the same as that already played by the glutton. The glutton, as the man with the strongest motive for nourishing himself, will always take more pains than his fellows to get food. When food is so difficult to get that only great exertion can secure a sufficient supply of it, the glutton's appetite develops his cunning and enterprise to the utmost; and he becomes not only the best fed but the ablest man in the community. But in more hospitable climates, or where the social organization of the food supply makes it easy for a man to overeat, then the glutton eats himself out of existence. All other voluptuaries prosper and perish in the same way; and this is why the survival of the fittest means finally the survival of the self-controlled, because they alone can adapt themselves to the perpetual shifting of conditions produced by industrial progress. (III, 703) Shaw was perfectly able, even then, to contemplate with equanimity the death of those he considered unfit to further social and biological evolution. When he wrote The Simpleton he dealt with the same problem. But what of the people who are capable of no restraint except that of intimidation? Must they not be either restrained or, as the Russians gently put it, liquidated. No State can afford the expense of providing policemen enough to watch them all continually; consequently the restraint must, like the fear of hell, operate when nobody is looking. (VI, 528-29)
149 150

See page 1 above. Shaw, The Perfect Wagnerite, p. 60.

Thomas E. Hart Shaw's solution to the problem is startlingly old-fashioned, a return to the Inquisition, only now it is to be called Tcheka (VI, 533) and is to be organized by the "gentle Djerjinsky." Shaw's other comments on toleration and the lack of it in all societies need not detain us here, what is interesting is that he wants the unfit to be exterminated painlessly without punishment or cruelty. In an anecdote Shaw tells how his grandfather shot a dog for making his first mistake and comments: Now there need be no more question of either of these abominations than there was in the case of my grandfather's dog. My grandfather would have been horribly ashamed of himself if the dog's death had not been instantaneous and unanticipated. And the idea of punishment never entered either his mind or the dog's. (Djerjinsky, by the way, is believed to have devised a similar method of painless liquidation.) It may be expedient that one man should die for the people; but it does not follow in the least that he should be tortured or terrified. (VI, 538-39) Unfortunately for Shaw and despite his assertion to the contrary, there does not seem to be a genuinely painless method of execution. Shaw may have had in mind the attitudes of Burgoyne in The Devil's Disciple: Have you any idea of the average marksmanship of the army of His Majesty King George the Third? If we make you up a firing party, what will happen? Half of them will miss you: the rest will make a mess of the business and leave you to the provomarshal's pistol. whereas we can hang you in a perfectly workmanlike and agreeable way. [Kindly] Let me persuade you to hanged, Mr. Anderson? (III, 330) or Warwick in Saint Joan: "I am sorry for the poor girl. I hate these severities. I will spare her if I can." (II, 370) Shaw believes that the Inquisition will eventually vanish and its functions be handled by the regular police courts: But police measures are not enough. Any intelligent and experience administrator of the criminal law will tell you that there are people who come up for punishment again and again for the same offence, and that punishing them is a cruel waste of time. There should be an Inquisition always available to consider whether these human nuisances should not be put out of their pain, or out of their joy as the case may be. The community must drive a much harder bargain for the privilege of citizenship than it now does; but it must also make the bargain not only practicable but in effect much easier than the present very imperfect bargain. This involves a new social creed. A new social creed involves a new heresy. A new heresy involves an Inquisition. The precedents established by Inquisition furnish the material for a new legal code. Codification enables the work of the Inquisition to be done by an ordinary court of law. Thereupon the Inquisition, as such disappears, precisely as the Tcheka has disappeared. Thus it has always been; and thus it ever shall be. (VI, 540) Shaw is, in the first part of this paragraph, ignoring a very important question, whether or not recidivists can be treated by means other than execution. Possibly Shaw would be even more sympathetic to the attempts of Maoists to re-educate the bourgeois intellectual elements of Chinese society than he was to the Russian experiment with the extermination of the Kulaks. For Shaw the doctrine of extermination would seem to be a counter part to the Darwinian doctrine of natural selection. The main difference between the two is that Shaw substitutes for an omnivorous nature an Inquisition, in the preface, or an angel, in the play.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw In the play proper Shaw envisions a clergyman, Iddy, as taking part in an experiment in eugenics with Maya, Vashti, Kanchin, and Janga, the the illusory products of a first generation of eugenics experimenters. (Maya's name is itself the Hindu term for the illusory nature of reality.) The four children, however, are quite lacking in moral conscience: Our four wonderful children have all sorts of talents, all sorts of accomplishments, all sorts of charms, And we are heartily tired of all their attraction because, though they have artistic consciences, and would rather die than do anything ugly or vulgar or common, they have not between the whole four of them a scrap of moral conscience. They have been very carefully fed: all the vitamins that the biological chemists have discovered are provided in their diet. All their glands are scientifically nourished. Their physical health is perfect. Unfortunately the biological chemists have not yet discovered either the gland that produces and regulates the moral conscience or the vitamins that nourish it. (VI, 571) Shaw in his preface describes the children as: "the four lovely phantasms who embody all the artistic, romantic, and military ideals of our cultured suburbs." (VI, 541) The results of the last judgment are summarized by Hyering thus: "The angels are weeding the garden. The useless people, the mischievous people, the selfish somebodies and the noisy nobodies, are dissolving into space, which is the simplest form of matter. We here are awaiting our own doom." (VI, 606) and Prola rephrases the angel's words: The lives which have no use, no meaning, no purpose will fade out. we shall have to justify our existences or perish. We shall live under a constant sense of that responsibility. If the angels fail us we shall set up tribunal of our own from which worthless people will not come out alive. When men no longer fear the judgment of God, they must learn to judge themselves. (VI, 606) What Pra terms the new "Newest Dispensation" is the evaluation of society: "Civilization live by their valuations. If the valuations are false, the civilization perishes as all the ancient ones we know of did. We are not being punished today: we are being valued." (VI, 607) Shaw had said in Man and Superman that a socialist government would inevitably proceed by coercion: Of course, if the nation adopted the Fabian policy, it would be carried out by brute force exactly as our present property system is. It would become the law; and those who resisted it would be fined, sold up, knocked on the head by policemen, thrown into prison, and in the last resort "executed" just as they are when they break the present law. (III, 710) Stanley Weintraub, as noted before, quotes one of Shaw's speeches in which the dramatist says: "I believe there will always be people who will humbug you, who have a natural aptitude for being beggars," he told his concluding Kingsway audience. "But there is always the remedy at hand....You know my old proposal. Every citizen should come up before a board of citizens, some tribunal, and be requested to justify his existence, say, for the last two years, and if he cannot justify it put him in a lethal chamber. I think if something of the kind were done, even if the penalty were not carried out, it would create a sense of responsibility which is altogether absent in our existing society."151



Weintraub, p. 76.

Thomas E. Hart The extent of the liquidation that Shaw looked on so favorably can perhaps be gleaned from his essay on prisons, The Crime of Imprisonment, in which he says, "I should be surprised if, even in so large a population as ours, it would be thought necessary to extirpate one criminal as utterly unmanageable every year..."152 Shaw, despite his fulminations and his description of the wholesale elimination of London's West End does not seem to have been wholly serious in his description, or else his views on elimination underwent a drastic change in eight years. The description of the extermination fashionable London, given below, may be only a wish fulfillment on Shaw's part or it may represent a speeding up of the process of selection. Extraordinary disappearances. Indescribable panic. Stock Exchange closes: only two members left. House of Commons decimated: only fourteen members to be found: none of Cabinet rank. House of Lords still musters fifty members; but not one of them has ever attended a meeting of the Chamber. Mayfair a Desert: six hotels left without a single guest. Fresh disappearances. Crowded intercession service at Westminster Abbey brought to a close by the disappearance of the congregation at such a rate that the rest fled leaving the dean preaching to the choir. At the Royal Institution Sir Ruthless Bonehead, Egregious Professor of Mechanistic Biology to the Rockefeller Foundation, drew a crowded audience to hear his address on "Whither have they gone?" He disappeared as he opened his mouth to speak. Noted Cambridge professor suggests that what is happening is a weeding out of nonentities. He has been deprived of his Chair; and The Times, in a leading article, points out that the extreme gravity of the situation lies in the fact that not only is it our most important people who are vanishing, but that it is the most unquestionably useful and popular professions that are most heavily attacked, the medical profession having disappeared almost en bloc, whilst the lawyers and clergy are relatively immune. A situation of terrible suspense has been created everywhere. Happy husbands and fathers disappear from the family dinner with the soup. Several popular leaders of fashion and famous beauties, after ringing their bells for their maids, have been found non-existent when the bells were answered. More than a million persons have disappeared in the act of reading novels. The Morning Post contains an eloquent protest by Lady Gushing president of the Titled Ladies' League of Social Service, on the inequality of sacrifice as between the west end and the east, where casualties have been comparatively few. Lady Gushing has since disappeared. (VI, 605-06) Shaw in the preface to Back to Methusalah had shown the relationship between the thought of Darwin and the capitalists: It is hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of this preparation for Darwinism by a vast political and clerical propaganda of its moral atmosphere. Never in history, as far as we know, had there been such a determined, richly subsidized, politically organized attempt to persuade the human race that all progress, all prosperity, all salvation, individual and social, depend on an unrestrained conflict for food and money, on the the suppression and elimination of the weak by the strong, on Free Trade, Free Contract, Free Competition, Natural Liberty, Laisser-faire: in short, on "doing the other fellow down" with impunity, all interference by a guiding government, all orga152


George Bernard Shaw, The Crime of Imprisonment (New York: The Philosophical Library, Inc., 1946) p.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw nization except police organization to protect legalized fraud against fisticuffs, all attempt to introduce human purpose and design and forethought into the industrial welter being "contrary to the laws of political economy." even the proletariat sympathized, though to them Capitalist liberty meant only wage slavery without the legal safeguards of chattel slavery. People were tired of governments and kings and priests and providences, and wanted to find out how Nature would arrange matters if she were let alone. And they found it out to their cost in the days when Lancashire used up nine generations of wage slaves in one generation of their masters. But their masters, becoming richer and richer, were very well satisfied; and Bastiat proved convincingly that Nature had arranged Economic Harmonies which would settle social question far better than theocracies or aristocracies or mobocracies, the real deus ex machina being unrestrained plutocracy. (II, lxiii-lxiv) Darwin also pleased the socialists though for different reason: Now Darwinism made a clean sweep of all such self-righteousness. It more than justified Robert Owen by discovering in the environment of an organism an influence on it more potent than Owen had ever claimed. It implied that street arabs are produced by slums and not by original sin: that prostitutes are produced by starvation wages and not by feminine concupiscence. It threw the authority of science on the side of the Socialist who said that he would reform himself must first reform society. It suggested that if we want healthy and wealthy citizens we must have healthy and wealthy towns; and that these can exist only in healthy and wealthy countries. It could be led to the conclusion that the type of character which remains indifferent to the welfare of its neighbors as long as its own personal appetite is satisfied is the disastrous type, and the type which is deeply concerned about its environment the only possible type for a permanently prosperous community. It shewed that the surprising changes which Robert Owen had produced in factory children by a change in their circumstances which does not seem any too generous nowadays, were as nothing to the changes—changes not only of species but of orders—which might conceivably be the work of environment acting on individuals without any character or intellectual consciousness whatever. No wonder the Socialists received Darwin with open arms. (II, lx-lxi) Both of these paragraphs deal with the evolution of social groups but since Shaw had always believed that the weeding out of the unfit was necessary he needed a counterpart to natural selection. In Back to Methusalah he found a means of elimination in the discouragement which caused the short-lived visitors to Galway to die153 and in The Simpleton in the process of angelic selection already described above. As Shaw had earlier said: Equality is an essential condition of bad breeding also; and bad breeding is indispensable to the weeding out of the human race." (III, 694) Shaw was not original in believing that those members of the human race that were unfit for society should be eliminated, this had been the practice during the Inquisition and the Star Chamber, and Shaw ironically defends the imprisonment of dissenters in the preface to St. Joan: In war, for instance, we suppress the gospels and put Quakers in prison, muzzle the newspapers, and make it a serious offence to shew a light at nigh. Under the strain of


See page 61 above.

Thomas E. Hart invasion the French government in 1792 struck off 4000 heads, mostly on grounds that would not in time of settled peace have provoked any government to chloroform a dog; and in 1920 the British government slaughtered and burnt in Ireland to persecute the advocates of a constitutional change which it had presently to effect itself. Later on the Fascisti in Italy did everything that the Black and Tans did in Ireland, with some grotesquely ferocious variations, under the strain of an unskilled attempt at industrial revolution by Socialists who understood Socialism even less than Capitalists understand Capitalism. In the United States an incredibly savage persecution of Russians took place during the scare spread by the Russian Bolshevik revolution after 1917. (II, 303) Shaw's defense is ironic and, when read in the same spirit as Swift's "Modest Proposal," becomes an indictment of the congenital intolerance of societies past and present. However, the only coherent position that emerges out of the welter of Shaw's writings is that the limits of toleration are extremely variable and that in times of mass hysteria they are nearly negligible; during a change of social conditions measures may be taken which later prove to be extreme and which will later be rejected. One possible source for Shaw's views on the last judgment is in the work of William Blake. Blake described the time of the last judgment in this way: The Last Judgment [will be] when all those are cast away who trouble Religion with Questions concerning Good & Evil or Eating of the Tree of those Knowledges or Reasonings which hinder the Vision of God, turning all into a Consuming Fire. When Imagination, Art & Science & all Intellectual Gifts, all the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, are look'd upon as of no use & only Contention remains to Man, then the Last Judgment begins, & its Vision is seen by the Imaginative Eye of Every one according to the situation he holds.154 This is the situation that is indeed present in Shaw's later plays such as The Simpleton and On the Rocks. Shaw in his later plays, especially The Apple Cart and On the Rocks, caricatures the bureaucratic ineptitude and inefficiency that is unable to run the country decently. The saved, for Blake, are those gifted with vision and understanding: Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have curbed & govern'd their Passions or have No Passions, but because the have Cultivated their Understandings. The Treasures of Heaven are not Negations of Passion, but Realities of Intellect, from which all the Passions Emanate Uncurbed in their Eternal Glory. The Fool shall not enter in Heaven let him be ever so Holy. Holiness is not The Price of Enterance in Heaven. Those who are cast out are All those who, having no Passions of their own because No Intellect, Have spent their lives in Curbing & Governing other People's by the various arts of Poverty & Cruelty of all kinds. Wo, Wo, Wo to you Hypocrites. Even Murder, the Courts of Justice, more merciful than the Church, are compell'd to allow is not done in Passion, but in Cool Blooded design & Intention.155 The eugenics experiment described in The Simpleton is primarily a scientific experiment to see if two racial consciousnesses can be blended and, in its later phase, to see if moral conscience can be bred. Pra and Prola sum up their attitude towards the future and towards the day of judgment as follows:
154 155


The Portable Blake, p. 653 Ibid., p. 668.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw PRA. There is no Country of the Expected. The Unexpected Isles are the whole world. PROLA. Yes, if our fools only had vision enough to see that. I tell you this is a world of miracles, not of jigsaw puzzles. for me every day must have its miracle, and no child be born like any child that ever was born before. And to witness this miracle of the children I will abide the uttermost evil and carry through it the seed of the uttermost good. PRA. Then I, Pra, must continue to strive for more knowledge and more power, though the new knowledge always contradicts the old, and the new power is the destruction of the fools who misuse it. PROLA. We shall plan common wealths when our empires have brought us to the brink of destruction; but our plans will still lead us to the Unexpected Isles. We shall make wars because only under the strain of war are we capable of changing the world; but the change our wars make will never be the changes we intended them to make. we shall clamor for security like frightened children; but in the Unexpected Isles there is no security; and the future is to those who prefer surprise and wonder to security. I, Prola, shall live and grow because surprise and wonder are the very breath of my being , and routine is death to me. Let every day be a day of wonder for men and I shall not fear the Day of Judgment. [She is interrupted by a roll of thunder]. Be silent; you cannot frighten Prola with stage thunder. The fountain of life is within me. PRA. But you have given the key of it to me, the Man. PROLA. Yes: I need you and you need me. Life needs us both. PRA. All hail, then, the life to come! PROLA. All Hail. Let it come. (VI, 610-11) The similarity in tone to the end of Back to Methusalah is striking. Both plays end on a note expectancy. What is missing is any explicit reference to the antithesis of mind and body. Instead of dualism, we see a vision of society being judged and the unfit, including the representatives of "Love, Pride, Heroism and Empire" (VI, 606), being dissolved into space, "the simplest form of matter." The weeding of the Garden is simply Shaw's way of speeding up the selection and hurrying the pace of evolution both in its social and biological epiphanies.


CHAPTER FOUR FAR-FETCHED FABLES Far-Fetched Fables is far easier to deal with than any of the three preceding plays. It consists of of six scenes, of fables, with no thread of continuity between them except that of biological evolution. It is singularly lacking in dramatic tension and is hardly a play at all, but it does contain Shaw's last thoughts on the subject of evolution. The first two plays deal with the abolition of atomic warfare and the replacement of the bomb by a lighter-than-air poison gas. The third playlet takes place in an anthropometric laboratory. The work of the laboratory is simple, it is: "Classifying men and women according to their abilities. Filling up their qualification certificates. Analyzing their secretions and so on." (VI, 500) This is obviously the solution to what Shaw said in Man and Superman was the only problem of politics, "the discovery of a trustworthy anthropometric method." (III, 732) Shaw had also broached this idea in The Apple Cart, in which he advocated a series of examinations, and in Everybody's Political What's What. 156 In the preface to Far-Fetched Fables he suggests a series of tests on the theory of rent and value, statistics, and aesthetics, and subconscious capacities, as well as tests of character (VI, 480-84). All of these tests are apparently designed to weed out the fit from the unfit, the geniuses and supermen from the mediocrities and anybodies. The fourth play describes the change in diet from omnivorous to vegetarian to a diet of air and water. Apparently this is the diet of the people in the fifth play of Back to Methusalah. The change has become necessary because the vegetarians. were restless, pugnacious, and savagely abusive in their continual controversies with the remaining meat eaters, who found it easy and pleasant to lead sedentary lives in stuffy rooms whilst the vegetarians could not live without much exercise in the fresh air. When grass eating became general men became more ferocious and dangerous than bulls. (VI, 505) The fifth play deals with sex. Bisexual reproduction has been replaced by an apparently trisexual mode involving males, females and hermaphrodites. Shamrock notes that the nineteenth century seems to have considered sex unmentionable (VI, 507). Interestingly enough, however, Rose thinks our present-day sex practices disgusting and explains the unmentionability of sex thus: Simply because their methods were so disgusting that they had no decent language for them. You think their methods were like ours, and their passions like ours. You could not make a greater mistake. The seminal fluids which our chemists make in the laboratory, and which it is our business to experiment with, were unknown to them: they had to use glandular secretions from the living body to perpetuate the race. To initiate births they had to practice personal contacts which I would rather not describe. Strangest of all, they seem to have experienced in such contacts the ecstasies which are normal with us in our pursuit of knowledge and power, and culminate in our explorations and discoveries. (VI, 508-509)

Bernard Shaw, Everybody's Political What's What? (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1945), pp. 309-321.


Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw apparently Shaw was still in the grip of the Victorian prudishness that we saw him exhibiting earlier in our discussion of Man and Superman. When Rose describes the ideal man she says: "We all want the Just Man Made Perfect." (VI, 509) This is precisely what Shaw had said the superman was not. (III, 516) Perhaps Shaw had forgotten this statement when he wrote his fables, he does assert in his preface that he has forgotten many incidents (VI, 485), or perhaps he simply did not care to use the word superman with its recently acquired connotations of Hitler and the master race. The hermaphrodite is unsatisfied, however, and aspires to be a vortex: I'm against all that. It revolts me. I tell you again and again we shall never make decent human beings out of chemical salts. We must get rid of our physical bodies altogether, except for stuffed specimens in the Natural History Museum. I don't want to be a body: I want to be a mind and nothing but a mind. In the sixteenth century men made it their first article of religion to worship a god who had neither body, parts, nor passion: sensual passions. Even in the dark ages of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there was man who aspired to be a vortex in thought, and a woman who declared that the mind made the body and the body the mind. Demolish all the laboratories. Build temples in which we can pray and pray and pray for deliverance from our bodies until the change occurs naturally as all real changes do. (VI, 510) Here we have gotten no further than we did in Back to Methusalah. The desire is still the same, to be free of the body and to become pure thought. It is in the sixth and final playlet that we meet a vortex in the flesh as it were. The sixth form teacher explains the theory of disembodied races: "The theory is that the Disembodied Races still exist as Thought Vortexes, and are penetrating our thick skull in their continual pursuit of knowledge and power, since they need our hands and brains as tools in that pursuit." (VI, 517) The characters in this play represent a retrogression to twentieth century man: "we are only a survival of the sort of mankind that existed in twentieth century, no better than black beetles." (VI, 516) The vortexes still work by trial and error: They have to learn by mistakes as well as by successes. We have to destroy the locust and the hook worm and the Colorado beetle because, if we did not they would destroy us. We have to execute criminals who have no conscience and are incorrigible. They are old experiments of the Life Force. They were well intentioned and perhaps necessary at the time. But they are no longer either useful or necessary, and must now be exterminated. They cannot be exterminated by disembodied thought. The mongoose must be inspired to kill the cobra, the chemist to distil poisons, the physicist to make nuclear bombs, others to be big game hunters, judges, executioners, and killers of all sorts, often the most amiable of mortals outside their specific functions as destroyers of vermin. The ruthless foxhunter loves dogs: the physicists and chemists adore their children and keep animals as pets. (VI, 517-518) When the vortex, called Raphael, appears he announces that: "I am an embodied thought. I am what you call the word made flesh." (VI, 519) And that: "Evolution can go backwards as well as forwards. If the body can become a vortex, the vortex can also become a body." (VI, 520) He has passions but they are "intellectual passion, mathematical passion, passion for discovery and exploration: the mightiest of all the passions," (VI, 520) and the passion for teaching but when asked to stay and teach says: "No. I am here to learn, not to teach. I pass on." (VI, 520)


Thomas E. Hart Shaw's philosophy, as stated in the play, would not seem to include the idea of extending the lifespan to three hundred years. It might appear that Shaw had given up this idea. However, in a letter to Sidney Webb dated 26 October 1945 he says: The war and the atomic bomb have produced a situation which is far beyond the political capacity not only of our new rulers but of mankind. I seriously think that unless the term of the human prime of life can be extended to 300 years, and political careers begins instead of ending at our age, which is biologically possible, we shall be superseded by some super-Fabian species capable of behaving decently.157 Regardless of why Shaw omitted this idea from Far-Fetched Fables , which is for all practical purposes a grab-bag of Shavian commonplaces, he has added at least one new thing to his philosophy — a cyclical conception of history. the beings portrayed have evolved into trisexual air and water eaters and then regressed into twentieth century man. War has been abolished and then returned. The disembodied becomes embodied. All of this reminds us of the dialogue at the end of the hell scene in Man and Superman: THE DEVIL. ....But I will now go further, and confess to you that men get tired of everything, of heaven no less than of hell; and that all history is nothing but a record of the oscillations of the world between these two extremes. An epoch is but a swing of the pendulum; and each generation thinks the world progressing because it is always moving. But when you are old as I am; when you have a thousand times wearied of heaven, like myself and the Commander, a thousand times wearied of hell, as you are wearied now, you will no longer imagine that every swing from heaven to hell is an emancipation, every swing from hell to heaven an evolution. Where you now see reform, progress, fulfillment of upward tendency, continual ascent by Man on the stepping stones of his dead selves to higher things, you will see nothing but an infinite comedy of illusion. You will discover the profound truth of the saying of my friend Koheleth, that there is nothing new under the sun. Vanitas vanitatum— DON JUAN. By Heaven this is worse than your cant about love and beauty. Clever dolt that you are, is a man no better than a worm, or a dog than a wolf, because he gets tired of everything? Shall he give up eating because he destroys his appetite in the act of gratifying it? Is a field idle when it is fallow? Can the Commander expend his hellish energy here without accumulating heavenly energy for his next term of blessedness? Granted that the great Life Force has hit on the device of the clockmaker's pendulum, and uses the earth for its bob; that the history of each oscillation, which seems so novel to us the actor, is is but the history of the last oscillation repeated; nay more, that in the unthinkable infinitude of time the sun throws off the earth and catches it again a thousand times as circus rider throws a ball, and that our age-long epochs are but the moments between the toss and the catch, has the colossal mechanism no purpose? (III, 644-645) Shaw's final vision might have been similar to Nietzsche's idea of the eternal recurrence but it was not, instead Shaw's vision is one constant progression and constant retrogression, evolution and deevolution. That is, if possible, even more dispiriting than Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal recurrence. Nietzsche at least does not envision any drastic evolutionary changes while Shaw does see biological and moral progress as occurring but only to be followed by a relapse into more primitive modes of existence. Far-Fetched Fables is essentially


Henderson, p. 389.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw a summary of all of Shaw's previous metabiological work to which he has added a cyclical view of history.


CONCLUSION The essential purpose of this paper has been to see what we could learn about the nature of Shaw's evolutionary beliefs. This project has naturally involved a search for possible intellectual sources, or analogues to Shaw's beliefs. Essentially we have agreed with C. E. M. Joad that Shaw was dualist who saw body and mind as two fundamentally opposed forces rather that an idealistic monist who saw mind as primary reality and matter as a mere epiphenomenon which was dragged along by mind. The body was "unwilling dross" to Shaw, but because of his conception (especially in Back to Methusalah) of matter as antagonistic to mind, we have, with Joad, called it a dualism. Admittedly, however, the question is somewhat murky. Another of Shaw's beliefs that we have considered is his Lamarckism and we have seen that this derives from his desire to make mind the primary principle of the universe; the Lamarckian position, however, is unprovable, i.e., it cannot be proved that evolution is the result of habit, use or disuse, or any of the Lamarckian principles. The Darwinian assumption is likewise an unprovable assumption, but it does not involve the scientific worker in any metaphysical speculations regarding the existence of a mind or a force, however blundering and inept, behind evolution. The Darwinian hypothesis is accepted not because of what it involves, the banishment of mind and purpose and the creation of an absurd, because meaningless, universe, but because of what it seems not to involve, metaphysical speculation about the purpose and creation of a meaningful universe. Shaw preferred to find meaning in the world by postulating the existence of a blind, blundering force using man as its agent rather than face the alternative of purposelessness, absurdity and, for him, despair. The third major belief that we examined occurs primarily in The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles and is the belief in extermination. We have suggested that the role played is analogous to that of natural or circumstantial selection in Darwinian thought. We have also found an analogous conception in William Blake's comments on the day of judgment. We have found that the dualistic motif is present in Shelley's early poetry, such as Queen Mab and that Shelley's later poetry underwent a movement from dualism towards the monism and idealism of the Fichtean school. Shelley, as an early influence on Shaw, presumably helped shape Shaw's weltanschaunug, including the dualistic view of matter and mind. Blake's influence was most readily apparent in The Simpleton but was not contributory to Shaw's dualism. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche were found to be monists with regard to the distinction of mind and body but each contributed to Shaw's intellectual life. From Schopenhauer Shaw derives some of The Quintessence of Ibsenism with its distinction between will and intellect and its vision of will as primary. From Nietzsche comes buttressing and support for Shaw's Lamarckism. The idea of the Superman, although apparently suggested to Shaw by Nietzsche, underwent considerable modification in Shaw's hands and became the product of biological evolution rather than a moral Übermensch. Samuel Butler seems to have served to buttress Shaw's native Lamarckism and certain ideas in Back to Methusalah clearly derive from Butler. Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution again provided support for many of Shaw's theories but the question of influence is nebulous. Shaw would probably have written and believed much the same things if Bergson had never lived. Dramatically the plays that have the greatest intellectual tension, i.e., those that are most intensely cerebral and which pit idea against idea, an in Man and Superman, or symbol against symbol, Cain against the unseen Enoch and Tubal, as in Back to Methusalah, are also the most



successful emotionally and rhetorically. With the later plays there is either a decline of intellectual interest or else a mere reiteration of Shavian dogma and with this decline there is a lack of emotional unity. The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles and Far-Fetched Fables are intellectually and emotionally unsatisfying plays and in at least one instance show a failure in good taste, i.e., the reference to Hitler in terms of Christ in Far-Fetched Fables . This lack of new intellectual content and emotional appeal is largely responsible for the brevity of our treatment of these two plays. Man and Superman and Back to Methusalah are much greater plays, in terms of length, intellectual content, and emotional impact so that there is more to be drawn from them than from the last two plays. We have repeatedly emphasized the intellectual content of the plays, that is to say the ideas the plays espouse, and the intellectual sources for the plays. Shaw did not, however, live and write in an emotional vacuum and we are inclined to believe with Demeray that Shaw's sexual experiences predisposed him towards his dualistic, Lamarckian cosmology. Unfortunately this kind of material is refractory at best and in unskilled hands the results would be useless. We would, however, tend to believe that Shaw's psychological experiences determined his world-view. In closing we can do no more than quote the words of Gustav Mahler and of Friedrich Nietzsche on the role of the psyche and reason in relation to art and philosophy: It is a peculiarity of works of art that the rational element in them (that which is soluble by reason) is almost never their true reality, but only a veil which hides their form. Insofar as a soul needs a body — which there is no disputing as an artist is bound to derive the means of creation from the rational world. But the chief thing is still the artist's conception, which no mere words can explain. Whenever he himself is not clear, or rather has not achieved wholeness within himself, the rational overcomes what is spontaneously artistic and makes an undue claim on the attention.158 It has gradually become clear to me what every great philosophy up till now has consisted of — mainly, the confession of its originator, and a species of involuntary and unconscious autobiography and moreover that the moral (or immoral) purpose in every philosophy has constituted the true vital germ out of which the entire plant has always grown.159

158 159

Alma Mahler Werfel, Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters. (New York: The Viking Press, 1946), p. 258. The Philosophy of Nietzsche, p. 386.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Aquinas, Thomas. The Summa Theologica, Great Books of the Western World. Ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins.Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 19 (1952), pp. 378-480. Barrell, Joseph. Shelley and The Thought of His Time: A Study in the History of Ideas. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1947. Bentley, Eric. Bernard Shaw. New York: New Directions, 1957. Bergson, Henri. Creative Evolution. Trans Arthur Mitchell. New York: The Modern Library, 1944. Bevan, E. Dean, ed. Concordance to the Plays and Prefaces of Bernard Shaw. 10 vols. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1972. The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne & The Complete Poetry of William Blake. New York: The Modern Library, 1941. Butler, Samuel. The Essential Samuel Butler. Ed. G. D. H. Cole. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., n.d. ____________. Life and Habit: The Shrewsbury Edition of the Works of Samuel Butler. Eds. Henry Festing Jones and A. T. Bartholomew. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1924. Cameron, Kenneth Neill, ed. Percy Bysshe Shelley: Selected Poetry and Prose. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1951. Demeray, John G. "Bernard Shaw and C. E. M. Joad: the Adventures of Two Puritans in Their Search for God." PMLA, 78 (1963), 265. Descartes, René. Meditations on First Philosophy, Great Books of the Western World. Ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 31 (1952) . Duerksen, Roland A. "Shelley and Shaw." PMLA, 78 (1963), pp. 114-127. Ervine, St. John. Bernard Shaw: His Life, Work and Friends. London: Constable & Company Limited, 1949. Frye, Northrop. Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947. Gardiner, Patrick L. Schopenhauer. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1963. Harris, Frank. Bernard Shaw: An Unauthorized Biography Based on First Hand Information. Garden City Publishing Co., 1931. Henderson, Archibald. George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century. New York: AppletonCentury- Crofts, Inc., 1956. Hollingdale, R. J. Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965. Irvine, William. The Universe of G. B. S. New York: Russell & Russell, 1968. James, William. The Principles of Psychology. Great Books of the Western World. Ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins.Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 53 (1952). Joad, C. E. M. Guide to Philosophy. New York: Dover Publications, 1957. Jung, Carl Gustav. The Basic Writings of C. G. Jung. Ed. Violet Staub DeLaszlo. New York: The Modern Library, 1959. Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. New York: The World Publishing Co., 1950. ______________ . The Portable Nietzsche. New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1963. Kazin, Alfred. The Portable Blake. New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1965.

Varieties of Evolutionary Doctrine in the Plays of Bernard Shaw Kronenberger, Louis. George Bernard Shaw: A Critical Survey. New York: The World Publishing Company, 1953. Laurence, Dan H., ed. Selected Non-Dramatic Writings of Bernard Shaw. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965. Millet, Kate. Sexual Politics. Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1970. Morick, Harold, ed. Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind: Readings from Descartes to Strawson. Glenview: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1970. Nethercot, Arthur H. Men and Supermen. New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1966. The Philosophy of Nietzsche. New York: The Modern Library, 1954. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Will to Power. Walter Kaufmann, ed. New York: Random House 1967. Notopoulos, James A. The Platonism of Shelley: A Study of Platonism and the Poetic Mind. Durham: Duke University Press, 1949. O'Connor, John, ed. Modern Materialism: Readings on Mind-Body Identity. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World., 1969. Parker, Dewitt H., ed. Schopenhauer Selections. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1956. Shaw, George Bernard. Complete Plays with Prefaces. 6 vols. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1962. _________________. The Crime of Imprisonment. New York: The Philosophical Library, Inc., 1946. _________________. Everybody's Political What's What? New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1945. _________________. The Perfect Wagnerite. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1967. _________________. Sixteen Self-Sketches. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1949. Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley. New York: The Modern Library, n.d. Smith, Warren Sylvester, ed. The Religious Speeches of Bernard Shaw. University Park: The Pennsylvania University Press. 1963. Thatcher, David S. Nietzsche in England 1890-1914. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970. Weintraub, Stanley. Journey to Heartbreak: The Crucible Years of Bernard Shaw 1914-18. New York: Weybright and Talley, 1971. Werfel, Alma Mahler. Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters. New York: The Viking Press, 1946.


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Beauty vs Brain Audience, in this opportunity I’d like to deliver a speech under the topic of “Beauty vs Brain” Ladies and gentleman, If God gave us ability and we had to choose ,which one would you prefer?would you prefer your looks or your personality?your beauty or your brain?maybe half of us will be so confused to choose,because half of people think that beauty is the most advantegous and half of people think that brain is more important. In reality,nowadays people gives value to looks more than personality. Nowadays people gives more chance to the beautiful one than the intelligent one. It’s sad that we live in a world where looking good gets you further in life than being intelligent. How it could be like this?this situation happens because we always judge the book by its cover,we just see the looks,but we never care about its contents. But,when it comes to me to choose whether the beauty or the brain,I’ll immediately choose the brain. Here in my speech, I’ll give 3 reasons why brain is so much better than beauty. My first reason,brain is better than beauty because brain is countable in most of the areas or most of the stages of human life. Brain is something that’s real. Brain enables you to improve many different things in life. The experience you have,the books you read,the classes you take, will continue throughout your life,and will only add to your brain power. It is said that beauty is only skin deep, which implies that...

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