A PHILOSOPHY OF THE FOUR-DIMENSIONAL SPACE-TIME
The Worldview of Relative Simultaneity
CHAPTER IV Ethics issues (The Theory of Freedom)
5. Another Form of Freedom
A dozen years ago, I read Douglas Richard Hofstadter’s “Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid”(*5). The book was so thick that I had much difficulty in reading through it, but I found it fascinating. It informed my philosophical thinking. The book focuses on the explanation of Kurt Gödel’s (1906–1978) incompleteness theorem. However, the book combines this with the examination of Maurits Cornelis Escher’s (1898–1972) illusional paintings and Johann Sebastian Bach's (1685–1750) music, his famous canon and fugue. In addition, it discusses computer science, life science and cerebrophysiology. In short, the book discusses ambitious system theories based on a wide range of subjects. In those days, I was interested in computer laws and I was shocked and fascinated by the book. In this section, I do not intend to present comments on the book. Also, the book includes examinations of freedom, but the discussion is not linked with the freedom theories in this study.
The primary focus of the book is to what extent a system can explain itself. It closely examines systematic fundamental problems by introducing many different cases and elaborately speculating about them. It is extremely difficult for a system to understand itself by its own efforts and if it tries to go beyond the limit, the system faces serious contradictions.
I am unable to provide elaborate theories such as Hofstadter did in his book, but while writing this book, The Philosophy of Four-Dimensional Space-time, I was frequently reminded of his book. I was tempted to think that I might be affected by similar problems. That is, I intend to examine four-dimensional space-time as a form of existence, but at the same time I exist within this framework of four-dimensional space-time. My statements and act of writing are included in things that I define as being predetermined on the basis of space-time determinism. This statement is also determined in terms of four-dimensional space-time and may be a kind of Hofstadter’s “Golden Braid.”
His book uses the expression, “Jumping out of the System”(*6). Human beings objectively look at systems in which they live and consider the world including themselves from outside the systems. But they can also recognize that they are part of the world that they are looking at objectively.
Human beings pursue being-for-itself perspectives and eventually return to being-in-itself perspectives.
I examined the subject of freedom in terms of power (ability) in Section 3 of this chapter. The discussion was a conceptual analysis based on the perspective of statically approaching four-dimensional space-time. In addition, the examinations presented in Section 4 are based on the recognition that without analysis from the perspective of consciousness that scans space-time, you cannot properly approach ethical issues. In the section, I have not discussed freedom directly, but on the whole my argument can be positioned as the examination of freedom. I intend to conclude by pointing out another form of freedom.
Freedom as a form of force and freedom as an ethical system are meaningful concepts as long as they are incorporated in a particular system. However human beings can recognize that they are being swayed by such a system and look at themselves objectively. They can pursue freedom by breaking away from various forms of value and uniting themselves with the universe from broader, universal perspectives.
In the previous section, I declared that freedom was a form of force. However, freedom can also emerge when you break away from something in a relaxed frame of mind. In this sense, weakness can turn into strength. Thinking in this way is also a kind of ability and in that sense, freedom is power. This form of freedom should be recognized as different from freedom as power.
Before being established as the translation of “freedom” and “liberty,” the Japanese word jiyuu, which was from China, was believed to be originally the translation of the Buddhist term swayambhu, meaning independent existence. This Buddhist term seems to mean a spiritual state of perfect selflessness and enlightenment.
This thinking about freedom exists in Taoism as well as Buddhism and it can also be observed broadly in general human thought, not just limited to Eastern thought. Or rather, I should say that this is my general impression because I am not familiar with the thoughts of all times and places.
In concluding this section I mention the freedom of departure and transcendence, that is, the Buddhist state of deliverance from earthly bondage (moksha). I do not intend to declare that it is the best form of freedom. I am not entitled to say that. I am just saying that such a form of freedom also exists. I do not think that an enormous and complicated thought movement, such as Buddhism, can be evaluated from only this perspective. The rightness and wrongness of freedom cannot be discussed separately from specific contexts. This kind of freedom is likely to lead to low-level unacceptable attitudes, such as simple flight from reality and unwillingness to participate in constructive activities. Conversely, this view is supported by the fact that for this form of freedom, it is only virtuous individuals who have overcome many difficulties and practiced rigid ascetic disciplines that gain public admiration.
However I am fascinated with the fact that the thoughts of humans are disciplined enough to pursue this type of freedom. Human beings should be strong and disciplined entities within four-dimensional space-time.
(*5) Douglas Richard Hofstadter (1979), Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, translated by Akihiro Nozaki, Hajime Hayashi, Naoki Yanase (1985) Hakuyosya
(*6) Ibid., Chapter XV: p465.