By Ludwig Schnauder

Even though it has usually been mentioned that the protagonists of Joseph Conrad's novels usually fail in what they try to in achieving, the forces that oppose them have not often been tested systematically. additionally, no sustained makes an attempt were made to scrupulously handle the imperative philosophical factor the characters' difficulty increases: that of the freedom-of-the-will. This interdisciplinary learn seeks to treatment this forget through taking recourse not just to the philosophical debate approximately loose will and determinism but additionally to the appropriate historic, financial, medical, and literary discourses within the Victorian and Early-Modernist classes. in contrast history a paradigmatic research of 3 of Conrad's most vital novels - center of Darkness, Nostromo, and the key Agent - investigates the writer's place within the loose will and determinism debate through deciding upon convinced habitual subject matters during which the freedom-of-the-will challenge manifests itself. mild is thereby additionally thrown on a crucial Conradian paradox: how Conrad can insist on morality and ethical accountability, which presupposes the lifestyles of unfastened will, in a materialist-deterministic global, which denies it.

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Nietzsche, quoted in Hollingdale 123) Nietzsche sees his insight that we endow an essentially a-moral world with moral significance as just one example of the particularly Western penchant of ascribing certain shapes and forms to a universe which is essentially without structure, irrational, and indeterminist. Our sense impressions, which we believe to be conditioned by the outer world, are, in fact, conditioned by the inner world. Consequently, we are “always unconscious of the real activity of the outer world” (Nietzsche, quoted in Stevenson).

Sartre therefore – like Descartes and Kant before him – sees humankind as different from the rest of nature. According to Sartre, consciousness is an activity; it is in constant motion and not subject to the rules of causality. It constitutes “a ‘gap’ between man and the world” (Dilman 192). Sartre argues that as conscious beings we are endowed with a unique form of existence which can be summed up as follows: (i) we have no positive being, our being or nature is not given to us from the outside, fixed independently of what we make of ourselves, and (ii) the environment or circumstances of our life do not impinge on us causally, but through what we make of them in our appraisals, through the significances we attribute to them.

Just as Nietzsche and his concept of the ‘will to power’ and in a similar manner to Sigmund Freud, Schopenhauer went on to demonstrate that our secret sexual urges are so strong that they can be found in spheres of life where one would not suspect their existence. In this respect, as in many others, Schopenhauer was far ahead of his time and laid the groundwork for theories and discoveries that were to dominate the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is in many ways a reaction to Schopenhauer’s and we find many parallels and contrasts between them.

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