The Influence of Nietzsche’s Anthropology on the Works of George Bernard Shaw

  • Biljana Vlašković Faculty of Philology and Arts University of Kragujevac
Keywords:
Übermensch, will, life force, creative evolution, perspectivism, woman

Abstract

This paper identifies the traces of Friedrich Nietzsche’s anthropological philosophy in the dramatic, sociological, anthropological, and philosophical writings of George Bernard Shaw. Apart from the obvious use of Nietzsche’s term “the Superman” (Übermensch) to serve the purposes of his own philosophy, the analysis shows further similarities between the two writers, namely that Shaw modified Nietzsche’s expression “the will to power”, as well as Schopenhauer’s concept of will as the world’s essence, and termed it the “Life Force”, which will enable a “creative evolution” of humans into a higher being, an Overman, or a Superman. Also concerning this is the role that Shaw gives to women in this process of creative evolution, by making the female the dominant gender, and in so doing radically deconstructing the deeply rooted 19th century view of woman as a being whose natural habitat is the family home, and whose role in wooing is exclusively passive. Such an attitude led many critics to believe that Shaw was a misogynist of the same kind as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. However, Shawian discourse as a whole exhibits а vehement support of the feminist struggles for the gender equality, which made the author a favorite in feminist circles. Different perspectives in Shaw’s anthropology mirror Nietzsche’s demand for the “transvaluation of all values”, and this alone is necessary to provide a constant change, which, according to both authors, is the only thing that is certain and constant in this world.

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Published
2012-10-25
How to Cite
Vlašković, Biljana. 2012. “The Influence of Nietzsche’s Anthropology on the Works of George Bernard Shaw”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 7 (4), 1139-65. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v7i4.13.
Section
Other Humanities and Social Sciences