Obey No1kinobe

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Is the golden rule flawed?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

What if what you want for yourself is not what others want done to them?

Perhaps the Confucian version is better: Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself, rather than forcing your views on other people.

Perhaps we let people do there own thing up to the point where it harms others?

  • Mar 25 2013: The Golden Rule is a good rule, but the basis is deeper than just being a rule. The deeper meaning is desire to do good to others, i.e. learning to love our fellow humans. When rules are law, it is a dutiful consideration, but love transcends law and becomes attractive, fragrant in human relationships. Desiring to do good for one another advances civil and social living to greater levels of pleasure. Treating others a certain way because you feel you have to obey a law does not rise to sincere attraction.

    Both Confucius and Golden Rule are good when love is the basis for accepting them into one's life.
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      Mar 26 2013: Very good points mark, especially doing good for goods sake, out of love rather than obligation.
  • Mar 26 2013: Thanks to all for some interesting reading and to Obey for a worthwhile question. My 2 cents: Jesus says that everything hangs on love God and love your neighbor. Figuring out what that means in a given situation isn't always easy. Sometimes that means acting. Sometimes it means refraining from acting. But in every case it means focusing on the flourishing of the other. The Confucian version is right that impositions are usually bad between mature people, but what about cajoling, encouraging, influencing, modeling, inviting. Finding the right degree of push to give is often a vital part of trying to be "good". In short, rules are where the negotiations should begin.
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      Mar 26 2013: Great points josh.

      I guess the refinement I am considering, building on your comment, is perhaps the starting point is to defer to what the recipient thinks will help their life flourish. Not assuming you know best. But obviously within limits.

      It is probably situational like many ethical dilemmas.
      Consensus may be suitable in some cases.
      Command in others.
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    Mar 26 2013: The ethical principal of reciprocity appears to be a natural philosophy for any person who appreciates their own humanity. The following is an excerpt prepared by the Unitarians:

    "Ethic of Reciprocity" (Golden Rule) passages from various sources

    Native American Spirituality:
    "Respect for all life is the foundation." The Great Law of Peace.
    "All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One." Black Elk
    "Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself." Pima proverb.

    Roman Pagan Religion:
    "The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves."

    Shinto:
    "The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form" Munetada Kurozumi
    "Be charitable to all beings, love is the representative of God." Ko-ji-ki Hachiman Kasuga

    Sikhism:
    Compassion-mercy and religion are the support of the entire world". Japji Sahib
    "Don't create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone." Guru Arjan Devji 259
    "No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend." Guru Arjan Dev : AG 1299

    Sufism:
    "The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If you haven't the will to gladden someone's heart, then at least beware lest you hurt someone's heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this." Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.

    Taoism:
    "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien.

    Unitarian Universalism:
    "The inherent worth and dignity of every person;"
    "Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.... "

    This is not the only useful moral precept... and it may conflict with other precepts at times... such as when disciplining children who are at risk of damaging themselves... but I don't consider a limitation to necessarily indicate a flaw.
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      Mar 26 2013: Fantastic examples.
      I fully support reciprocity in principle, with the refinement about being careful when you are forcing something down the throat of other adults.

      And another refinement for children.

      Etc.

      It can be built upon.

      Most of us probably would like a society where people have a mix of community and indiviuaslism. Freedom, and contributing to the common good. I'd like to think so any way.
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    Gail .

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    Mar 25 2013: The Golden Rule is not flawed, but christian understanding of this teaching of Jesus is flawed.

    Matthew 7:12 - Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

    What is being said here is that as you treat others, you shall be/are being treated. (As you judge others, so you shall be/are Judged is another of his sayings" These are not commandments. They are rules (the law) for creating your own reality and how you can know what's coming your way (prophets).

    Jesus said a lot of amazing things that most Christians seem never to have heard. He said that you are gods. Fear not. Resist not evil. That which you focus on you bring power to. (That last sentence = my words, not Jesus')

    Jesus was trying to tell people how to create beautiful and delightful lives - that were the opposite of the difficult scrabbling for something to eat in a desert climate and a country ruled by a militant Roman occupation. He was saying that they can create (manifest) food, water, shelter and safety, and here how you do it:

    If you want others to share food with you, you do that by first sharing yours with others. If you want to be respected, you do that by respecting others. In other words, if you want to be tyrannized or religiously victimized, then simply use your religion to tyrannize or victimize others - which is why Christianity is in such precipitous decline.

    If ALL that you ask for ask given (as Jesus said it was if you only belive that it is), then if you don't like what you have, look at what you are asking for.

    how do you see what your are asking for? Look at your thoughts, words, and deeds. Would you like it if an alien religion used the law to impose immorality on you? If no, then then don't do it to others, because ALL actions of consequences. Choose your consequences. You are in control. You ARE the power of your life. ("The light of the world")
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      Mar 26 2013: Hi Gail, I think reciprocity goes a long way.

      I guess my point may be semantics, but it might be better to treat people how they want to be treated, rather how you would like to be treated.

      If someone wants to be subject to some religious or other code, that does not mean they should apply that to others.

      For example white people in Australia took aboriginal children and tried to assimilate them thinking that would be good. They didn't ask if the children wanted to stay with there families.

      I guess at a deeper level we don't want rt o be forced into living the way others might want to live.

      I agree many Christians perhaps forget some of the key positive messages. However there are negative ones in the bible too. Like hell. Like we are sinners. Like sins passing down to descendants. Like sexism. Like homophobia etc.

      I agree we sometimes forget that we have choices.
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    Mar 25 2013: Almost anything can be proven to be flawed if questioned enough. Even suicide bombers can find flaws in an arguement for a peaceful society if they are very excellent at sophism.

    The golden rule was made with the assumption that an individual first and foremost loves himself or herself. You can only give what you have; so if you are on a twisted view of love, you may not be able to apply the golden rule.
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      Mar 26 2013: Your comment made me think .....what if the things you think are loving, differ from what the recipient thinks is loving?

      I agree, in general, if love is gentle, kind, sacrificing to enrich the life of others. Not if it is imposing our views on others.

      Good point, if you don't love and have respect for yourself, not in a narcistic way, then in may be hard to be loving to others.
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    Mar 25 2013: Yes it is flawed.
    Simply because if I was someone who viewed to inflict pain on myself, then by the "golden rule" it would be acceptable to inflict pain on other people. Or if I was a psychopath who didn't mind if I died, then it would be okay to kill other people, because I would kill people/ myself.
    Also sometimes to maximize ultility it is necessary to dismiss other people's opinions, though accept them. I mean on a more happy option. If I viewed that tomato sauce was "evil" and didn't give it to myself, then by that logic I shouldn't "impose" tomato sauce on other people. Though I think this is a minor exception. :D (Not sure how sound my tomato sauce logic was! For you could just ask whether they wanted tomato sauce and then this wouldn't be "forcing" people to have tomato sauce!)
    "Perhaps we let people do there own thing up to the point where it harms others?"
    That goes completely against pluralism. I think (in my personal opinion) that my answer would be : You can have your opinion (to harm people) and I can have mine to go against your opinion that it is okay to harm other people.
    While though the golden rule, is altogether good and encourages altruism, it is not a perfect formula. Therefore it is flawed. But it is a good one nonetheless. While there are many exceptions to it, another one would be :
    If I viewed that it was necessary to maximize the utility of my nation and would sacrifice many people, and would be responsible for the deaths of many individuals (on both sides), but I wasn't willing to die myself. Then this would be wrong according to the golden rule. However from utilitarian perspective this might be right, because the end result could bring about much happiness.
    I hope this helped and have made sense :)
    Might edit this response later to make it easier to understand :)
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      Mar 26 2013: That's exactly my point.
      Don't assume what you want is what others want.
      I support pluralism, within limits.

      Also, some of the comments touch on adding an element of common sense. Perhaps treating others in ways we agree on, not the ways we might disagree on.
  • Mar 25 2013: Confucius comment is much better, but getting folks to do that is another matter all together.
  • Mar 26 2013: Use common sense, but something that would get so many comments so quickly has unique merits.
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      Mar 26 2013: I agree. Common sense. A few thoughtful refinements.

      Its a punchy, pithy and powerful statement, but perhaps would benefit from further consideration.
  • Mar 25 2013: Of course the Golden Rule is flawed.

    There is no perfect system of morality or ethics.

    We have to get by with the best we can do.

    The Golden Rule is good enough.
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      Mar 26 2013: Thanks Barry.

      I suggest the rule could be improved upon. Refined. Clarified to be more effective.

      But it is a good starting point. Much better than some other approaches.
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    Mar 25 2013: There is another a famous quote I like, attributed to several different people, which reads, "Your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins."
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      Mar 26 2013: I like that. Liberty but with limits ~ not impinging on the life, liberty, and happiness of others.