- Main article: Dûnyain philosophy
The Dûnyain believe the will to be illusory, an artifact of the soul’s inability to perceive what comes before it. They believe—contrary to the dominant stream of Three Seas thought—that the soul is part of the world, as much driven by prior events as anything else. In other words, Men do not possess ‘self-moving souls’. Far from a given, such a soul is an accomplishment for the Dûnyain. All souls, they claim, possess conatus, the natural striving to be self-moving, to escape the circle of before and after. They naturally seek to know the world about them and so climb out of the circle. But a host of factors make outright escape impossible. The soul Men are born with is too obtuse and clouded by animal passions to be anything other than a slave of what comes before. The whole point of the Dûnyain ethos is to overcome these limitations and so become a self-moving soul—to attain the Absolute, or the Unconditioned Soul.
To achieve this goal, the Dûnyain instituted a program of selective breeding for intellect and dispassion. They undergo arduous physical, emotional, and intellectual training, what they call the conditioning. The Dûnyain believe that, using reason, they can condition themselves to the point of becoming unconditioned.