Metaphysical Voting

    One of Bruce Charlton's classic posts is "The evils of voting."  In this post, Charlton argues that there is no reason that voting should be a "gold standard" of making decisions: 

    "Where did people get the idea that voting was an acceptable - let alone the best and only, way to make decisions?  

    There is no magic about majority voting, no 'wisdom of crowds', no place for the operation of divine or individual inspiration - neither the safety-first gut-feeling veto of requiring unanimous and full community assent to change, nor for the inspirational decisiveness of the gifted individual to lead the consenting (or acquiesing) group on the basis of superior wisdom, insight, foresight.


    To rely on majority voting is fundamentally unserious; it is to regard life as essentially soft and sustaining, to regard life as unreal and something not requiring of us correct decisions and right behavior."

    I agree with this post, that there is nothing intrinsically good about voting.  It is just one method among many of making decisions; in some situations it is good, in others it is not.  Voting works best when used among a relatively small number of well-informed and honest individuals to force decisions, where something needs to be decided, but the decisions are only of small or moderate importance.  
    In the post, Charlton also mentions that a two-thirds majority makes more sense than a simple numerical majority because in this case those who agree outnumber those who disagree by two to one.  One could also imagine this principle being applied to an organization such that nothing can be decided by voting unless there is a two-thirds majority.  

    It is also mentioned that voting can fool human beings:

    "We hoodwink human psychology by forcing pre-commitment to the unknown outcome of majority voting as intrinsically correct."

    Even though in actuality, voting is not the same as making a specific decision, psychologically, the act of voting causes people to feel invested in the process as if they did agree. 
    In addition to political voting, however, people also vote by their actions, which determines what kind of society one lives in.  And this is somewhat analogous to voting because these actions are aggregated to influence people's lives.  But unlike voting, it is not one vote per individual because the influence of some matters more than others, also, one can "vote" multiple times depending on one's choices.  In some respects they may even cancel out.  
    But even apart the material effects, I believe that our actions and thoughts are a kind of metaphysical voting.  If we really want something, and act according to that desire, then we are metaphysically voting for that which we desire.  But if we get it, it may be as the thing really is, not as we imagined it.  
    This also relates to prayer, prayer is a kind of metaphysical voting as well.  One might think of the natural question "God already knows what we need, so why do we have to ask?"  I believe one reason is that by asking, one is making an active investment of will.  

    Like voting by action, metaphysical voting is not "one man, one vote" either.  For example, the "vote" of a saintly hermit, i.e., his prayers and actions, has a far greater effect on his society than those of an ordinary person.  Not only because of his virtue, but also because such a hermit is more closely aligned with God and Creation, so he would know better what to vote for, so to speak.    
    This relates somewhat to the peck.  In an article from a Greek Orthodox hieromonk transcribed in this post by William James Tychonievich, there is a suggestion that there will eventually be seven pecks.  I can't say whether the number is literally true, but this goes along with the concept of metaphysical voting.  Many people have received the peck without fully thinking through what it means.  But the side of evil does not want that; they don't just want people to receive the peck, they want people to identify with it.  Their goal is that with each further dose, people will with increasing consciousness metaphysically vote for a worse world.   

    However, and this is the importance of metaphysical voting, one can always cast a vote for the side of good.  And things can always be better.  Consider the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:8-15: 

    "And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise.  And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: 'Where art thou?'  And he said: ''I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.  

    And he said to him: 'And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?' And Adam said: 'The woman, whom thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.'  And the Lord God said to the woman: 'Why hast thou done this?'  And she answered: 'The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.'

    And the Lord God said to the serpent: 'Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and the beasts of the earth: upon thy breasts shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. 

    I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.'  "

    When God spoke to them, rather than acknowledging that they had done wrong and repenting, Adam and Eve each tried to deflect the blame from themselves.  And they could have even repented before that, if they had gone to meet God rather than hiding themselves.  Of course, the story does not say what would have happened then, but we can speculate that things would have been better.  There would still have been a great price to pay, but things would not have been so bad.  

    And there are many situations in this world where even if things are bad, even if much that is bad cannot be averted, the end result can be much better by making the right decision at the right time.  
    And for this reason I do not believe that there should be enmity between the pecked and the unpecked.  Certainly, one should interact as little as possible with those who believe in and enforce the current totalitarianism.  Discernment along these lines is always necessary.  By all means, let there be enmity between human beings and the serpent, between those of us on Earth and the "rulers of this present darkness."  But for one own family, or close friends, or even acquaintances who mean one no harm, there is no reason for such.  

    The more that cast a ballot for God and Creation (and there are many ways to do this), even if they supported this totalitarianism before, the better things will be spirituallly, and I believe, materially as well.


  1. I take your main point, and agree with it.

    However, I personally still find the metaphor of casting a vote to be misleading - since it may suggest the need to reach a threshold of cast votes before anything good can happen; and it does tend to suggest that good operates primarily in a quantitative and additive fashion.

    I think almost the opposite is true; and that the consequence of good acts or thoughts is not thus predictable. Some inner decisions get vastly amplified and spread remarkably; while others apparently disappear to nothing.

    It seems more accurate to regard things as qualitative and leave aside (if possible) predictions about quantitative consequences - which are anyway unknowable (in this life).

    1. I think there is a quantitative aspect. For instance, there seems to be some threshold where once enough people in society behave and think in a certain way, then the whole of society is changed.

      And so by analogy, I believe the same thing could occur spiritually as well.

      But I completely agree that consequences are not easily predictable and that the qualitative aspect is the most important.

      Indeed, the quantitative is just an approximate manner of thinking about the qualitative in this case, by not taking into account the individual differences in action thoughts and motivations.

  2. Kevin, you say "Many people who have received the peck without fully thinking through what it means. But the side of evil does not want that; they don't just want people to receive the peck, they want people to identify with it. Their goal is that with each further dose, people will with increasing consciousness metaphysically vote for a worse world. "

    I think this is a very important insight. The problem with the peck is not (simply) that it doesn't work very effectively or is dangerous but that accepting it is voluntarily submitting to an evil totalitarianism. But the good news for those who have been twice bitten, as unfortunately someone close to me has allowed herself to be, is that you can still step back. It may be harder but you can do it.

    1. I hope that many will reconsider their choices and stop after 2.


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