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      The Worldview of Relative Simultaneity         (MURAYAMA Akira)

CHAPTER IV    Ethics issues (The Theory of Freedom)

This chapter discusses the freedom of the four-dimensional worm, focusing on ethical issues, including my own ideas of freedom. Discussions about the existence of four-dimensional space-time and space-time determinism inevitably involve human freedom. Leaving this point unmentioned is impossible.
   Section 1 presents general proposals about my ideas of the theory of freedom. Section 2 examines the subjects of time flow and free will with a focus on several cases. Analyses of the theory of freedom advocated in this study are based on the concepts of objective and subjective freedom. Objective freedom refers to the concept of objective time discussed in Chapter 3 from the bird's-eye perspective of four-dimensional space-time and is presented in Section 3. Subjective freedom examines the senses of freedom, responsibility and ethical judgment from the subjective perspective of consciousness that scans space-time and is described in Section 4.
   The crux of Section 3 is the concept of power. Based on the critical view that the concepts of objective freedom and responsibility stem from some kind of power or capability, examinations of the theory of freedom in this section lead to broader, universal concepts of power, as well as to the physical concept of force.
   Section 4 begins with the reflective examination of the is-proposition (the proposition that something exists) and the ought-proposition (the proposition of what should be and what one should do) to examine freedom from the perspective of scanning space-time. The section addresses fundamental ethical issues for conscious subjects, such as us, rather than seeking the conceptual definition of freedom.
   Section 5 concludes this chapter by mentioning another dimension of freedom in a brief way, that is, the freedom of deliverance and transcendence.

1. The Theory of Freedom

In this section, I will discuss the concept of freedom. Some will present a counterargument: “The discussions presented in the previous chapters leave little room for free will. What will you discuss in terms of freedom despite your serious negation of freedom?”
   If I take a pessimistic and cynical stance and consider freedom to be an illusion, we have no other choice but to accept our given fate and to acknowledge that all our successes and failures are predetermined and that all our efforts are meaningless, leaving me with little left to discuss. My argument would not have proceeded from this level. In addition, I might have been adamant and aggressive about these pessimistic ideas. Although such a stance may be based on four-dimensional notions of space-time, this kind of attitude is not productive. Actually, I take the more hopeful stance that we can make daily efforts toward the future fulfillment of our dreams. I respect those individuals who hope for happiness for humankind and engage in discussions and take action to achieve social progress and development and reform, if necessary. I also hope to play a role myself in collaboration with them. Consequently, I was affected by what I would discuss in this paper. As a result, my preferred attitude and conclusions based on logical thinking became incompatible with each other. Nonetheless, it is impossible for me to deny or ignore physical theories according to my personal attitude. As mentioned in the previous chapter, I do stick to monistic ways of thinking. I am uncomfortable with the idea of separating this from that. In this way, I was affected by endless struggles of thought.
   As I studied the theory of relativity, I learned to have the critical view that philosophical studies of time require some amount of modern physical knowledge. In the process, I realized that with regard to the existence of space-time and its different relative determinations between me and anyone distant from me on the basis of the relativity of simultaneity, I had to consider that all objects and events from the past to the future exist and are predetermined. At least, I noticed that it was impossible to think that the past had been determined but the future was not predetermined. I only first realized this when I was a university student (in the early 1980s), meaning that I had seriously considered this issue for a quarter of a century. In fact, I almost gave up serious philosophical reflections after my graduation from the university. After graduation, I entered a private company and lived in a world far removed from philosophy and physics. However, I continued to have spirited exchanges with members of the Osaka Society for the Study of Materialism and maintained relationships with those who studied philosophy. Society in general approaches philosophy from a wide-ranging grassroots perspective without limiting its activity to mere academic exercises and I was comfortable with this stance. Subsequently, I decided to give up thinking about the subject of space-time because it was too complicated, and my work as an information processing engineer took most of my time. Still at times I was tempted to contemplate four-dimensional space-time. For example, when I was aboard the train, I imagined that the train was a four-dimensional tube. In such a situation, I thought that, while the train was moving, the present from my perspective and the present from the perspective of my colleagues in the office were different. I remember passing my stop while thinking in such an absent-minded manner. On such occasions, I made excuses for myself by thinking that this failure had been predetermined by four-dimensional space-time. My excuse itself had also been predetermined in terms of four-dimensional space-time.
   I have considered the subject in a negative way and have found out that it is exceedingly difficult to deny four-dimensional space-time determinism. The denial of four-dimensional space-time determinism sounds like a denial of our free will, but it is actually not so. Using free will is predetermined and this worldview and the existence of free will are not incompatible with each other. Ultimately, we just deny that something spiritual creates the world. However freely I make decisions, it cannot be denied that using such will is predetermined. Such an interpretation is ultimately possible. If you intend to secure the fundamental essence of free will, all you can do is to choose solipsism or the many-worlds theory. However I accept none of these.
   I have found myself living with this worldview. If philosophy involves room for experiments, that would mean living with the philosophical worldview of the examinee. I dedicated my life to this test, although I only noticed that later. Of course, just one case is not enough to gain scientific credit and it is necessary to obtain statistical data on many other lives based on the same worldview. In accordance with this reasoning, it is impossible to draw a general conclusion on the basis of my personal case. If this study is intended to present an interim report about my case, my life is unexpectedly normal. At least, I did not go berserk with unbearable feelings.
   The predeterminism of life events does not mean that you have advance knowledge of specific facts. If you knew when and where you will die on the basis of determinism, you would be unable to live comfortably. In fact, you would just interpret objects and events in an ex post facto way; you have no choice but to live your life in your own way. Even if you face a series of misfortunes and periods of unhappiness, you just plod on thinking that something good will happen to you someday. If solid determinism existed, you could present proof of free will by overturning actual events. In fact, however, you interpret everything in an ex post facto way. Therefore, such incorrect prediction is predetermined. Moreover, free will that overturns actual facts is also predetermined. This kind of abstract determinism without solid specifics sounds problematic, but it is unexpectedly harmless.
   In Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1564–1616), the protagonist was afflicted by the witch’s prediction that he would be made king. Macbeth killed King Duncan, which ended in his own self-destruction. In the tragedy, the witch’s prediction was described as a spatiotemporal factor for his action. Macbeth did not understand the prediction as well as the audience understood the scenario of the play. If he had sufficiently understood the prediction, he would not have killed the king and the prediction would not have come true. In Oidipous Tyrannos, a Greek tragedy by Sophoklēs, the prediction itself works as a spatiotemporal factor. Events in tragedies and comedies, which are triggered by predictions, are also spatiotemporal incidents. Real predictions must include all of these elements and must not be revealed to people in the world. However, if a prediction remains secret, it fails to work as a prediction. In accordance with this reasoning, no real predictions can in principle exist. Determinism or fatalism without predictions (not forecasts based on scientific and conditional probabilities) cease to be fearsome and become virtually meaningless.
   I realized another thing. Even if I live with this kind of worldview that denies free will in a fundamental sense, I usually feel uncomfortable about many things in my life and become indignant about political structures that control freedom. That is, the subject of freedom is related to something objective regardless of the essential existence of free will. I think this is a fundamental issue of any discussion about freedom.
   I (and many others including Kant) used to think that human freedom was based on the existence of free will. An important issue of freedom is not a matter of free will but a kind of objective structure of events occurring in four-dimensional space-time through the removal of free will in an essential sense. Struggles for freedom have been ongoing throughout human history. During these struggles, were there wars or revolutions over the existence of human free will that reshaped the world in a fundamental way? People have tended to avoid such philosophical and metaphysical arguments, preferring instead to pursue their own survival, livelihoods and profits as the ends to realizing freedom. The freedom people have sought to obtain is an objective state of relations, not the fundamental nature of free will. Although people can imagine free will in their mind, they actually face many real-world obstacles. Freedom here means to deny such a situation and endeavor to alter situations to their advantage. In addition, it includes the situation as background where trends toward free will also have the effect of a social force.
   In many cases, the theory of freedom in the social sciences is not based on free will. In such cases, sociologists often analyze something that confronts freedom. What confronts freedom—whether states, markets, society or social systems—does not deny the existence of free will.
   It is necessary to examine the concept of freedom as an objective state apart from the fundamental existence of free will. This is a primary focus of this chapter.
   Marxism often presents the proposition that freedom is the recognition of necessity. This is based on Baruch de Spinoza (1632–1677) and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s (1770–1831) objectivist concept of freedom and involves profound implications. I doubt whether the proposition involves much room for comprehensive examination of freedom at various levels. In some cases, the proposition works well, but it is just a superficial and unsatisfactory analysis of freedom. Reducing everything to this proposition is not an original way of thinking. Therefore, I intend to pursue a more comprehensive approach.
   However, because the subject of freedom is a serious issue in Western history, especially in recent centuries, the issue of freedom has helped form the foundations for Western philosophy, as well as epistemology. When I first considered approaching the subject, I felt it would be an extremely difficult issue to tackle, but given this difficulty, I found that I would be unable to do anything about it, so I decided to venture onward.
   In the meantime, even if I can accomplish an objective analysis of freedom, I will be unable to complete everything. The descriptions given in this study so far are just a statement of objective interpretations. Based on the premise that the past has been determined but the future is not predetermined, we have ethical systems based on free will, which pursue responsibility and malpractice and distinguish right from wrong. In general, philosophy deals with the interpretations of existence and ought-issue (what should or should not be done as well). I think that we should more seriously pursue the subject of free will in the philosophy involved in the ought-issue. As long as this study leaves this issue unresolved, it will be just confusing. But this is a tremendously difficult challenge and will trigger many problems.
   This book is the product of my reckless approach to this intractable issue. Of course, I am well prepared for others to disagree with my addressing the issue, but criticism is an inevitable development.
   I will now proceed to examine the subject of free will in accordance with my reflections based on the theory of time.

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