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Theory of Life-Force by G. B. Shaw

G. B. Shaw – Theory of Life-Force

“Shaw’s gospel of creative evolution and his belief in the Life Force were opposed to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection”A.C. Ward


G. B. Shaw had his own philosophy of life and he thought in a new way about each object in the universe. He put forward these ideas through his plays. He believed that a play is mainly based on ideas. Without going deep into his mind it is very difficult to completely understand and enjoy his plays. Various things related to man and this world make up his philosophy of life. He believed in socialism and in Life-Force and these form the basis of his philosophy. He gave his own individual description of Bergson’s Theory of Creative Evolution.

G. B. Shaw ‘s Philosophy

Shaw was greatly impressed by Karl Marx and became a strict socialist. He however, did not want the people to adopt socialism by force through constant propaganda about its principles. He was strongly against idea of owning large properties by some, while the others may have no place to live. He wanted the people to be given equal opportunities. He was an opponent of capitalism. He was an opponent of capitalism. He believed it to be responsible for all social problems, Poverty is also there because of capitalism. He even had novel ideas about woman, marriage and family life. He was a political writer also. Though he was considered to be a democrat, he did not like the present form of democracy. While reading Shaw’s works it appears as if he did not believe in religion. He was however, not a non-believer; he did not like the evils that had entered religion and the Chruch. He believed in Jesus and his teachings through he put them in his own way.

G. B. Shaw ‘s New Religion

After criticising Christianity, Shaw presented a new religion-his own religion. He called this new religion, the religion of Creative Evolution, and considered it necessary in our lives. This theory of Creative Evolution, and considered it necessary it necessary in our lives. This theory of Creative Evolution strongly opposed Derwin’s Theory of Natural Selection Darwin’s theory had made man only a creature of his surroundings. But Shaw declared that men and women are conscious and purposeful agents in the process of Creative Evolution.

Influence of Nietzsche

Shaw’s new religion was also affected by Nietzsche’s Supe But while Nietzsche’s Superman was completely materialistic, Shaw’s concept of Superman and his religion was spiritual. Nietzsche’s Superman represents power, strength, selfishness, animal behaviour and attacking nature. But Shaw’s Superman is much higher and superior to him. He is wise and practical, civilised and intentionally works with the Life-Force.

The Life-Force

Shaw’s philosophy is the test of that logic of events which is working through men and all the forces of the world. Here and there he calls this test, the Life-Force. He is a believer in the human reason; a disciple of Samuel Butler, he believes that all that the Life-Force has achieved it stores away within the man, to be expressed afterwards in the quieter voice of intuition.

Bernard Shaw used the term ‘The Life-Force‘ to indicate a power that continually worked upon the hearts of men and tried to take them towards a better and fuller life. He regarded Life-Force to be the guiding and shaping factor in the progress of the world. For this necessary condition is individual and collective will, effort and organisation. Co-operation of man would make the work of Life-Force smooth and speedy. If man acts against the Life-Force he brings misfortune upon himself.

Working of the Life-Force

The Life-Force, that is God, or divine care, and Nature is within us. It is imperfect. It is trying to reach perfection. Man provides it hands’ and must work for this perfection, must desire this perfection. Although man is unconscious of the force working in him, he must will himself to greater awareness of God’s purpose. He must will himself, with all his power of gathering knowledge, to take the leap upward developing stage to the next. He must crate a new being, who in turn and by the same process shall create another being. As a result, after a long time, the world which we know and love shall be left behind and life shall only be a ‘whirlpool of pure intelligence’

Display of the Life-Force

G. B. Shaw first displayed his philosophy of the Life-Force in Man and Superman. In the form of the term – Creative Evolution-Shaw deals with this theme again in Back to Methuselah. It is a power which works for the betterment of the race and leads to a progressive development of life. In a play of Shaw, the Life-Force expresses itself in the form of superman hero. A superman hero is the attempt of the Life-Force to create something better than man. He has strength of mind and is in contrast with the ordinary persons.

The Purpose of the Life-Force

The Life-Force cares only for creation and nothing else. The final goal of the Life-Force is not beauty or bodily perfection. In beginning life entered the matter to conquer it, in pure energy form but it became its slave. Matter is a hindrance in the path of the Life-Force. In future matter will again be rejected and life will become once again pure intelligence. But this cannot be the ultimate purpose of the Life-Force because life is always moving.


Shaw’s general philosophy ends in the Life-Force, in the declaration of that divine instinct which drives the earnest seeker even higher. His theory of drama rises to the recognition of the same thing. Shaw’s belief is the belief of Life, his propaganda aims at spreading this belief. His improvement of the morals also deals with the possibilities in life. Life is the best life with a blessing, is the goal.

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