Comment: The Problem of the Golden Rule

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The Problem of the Golden Rule

Ron Paul said in his speech: "A society that boos or ridicules the Golden Rule is not a moral society. All great religions endorse the Golden Rule. The same moral standards that individuals are required to follow should apply to all government officials. They cannot be exempt."

But there is a problem with the Golden Rule which many might not have thought of. The Golden Rule is presented in a positive and in a negative form. The positive states: "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself." And the negative form says: "One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated." So what is the problem with these formulations? Both of these formulations are good practical maxims, but in a deep sense they both have a flaw. This flaw is that they believe that the Other wants to be treated the same way as the one who makes the moral judgment. How can one know that others want the same as myself or that they don't want what I do not want? Maybe the Other wants to be treated in a different manner than myself.

The source of the Golden Rule is not the Other, but myself, not the mysterious infinity of the Other, the true otherness of the Other, but an idea that I would know how the others want to be treated or not treated. In this sense I would say that even more fundamental ethical principle should be constant openness to the mystery of the Other which is certain kind of astonishment in the face of the Other. This openness would be perpetual sensitivity and listening of the difference of the Other as the Other is always infinitely more than I can ever understand.

This above comment is connected to my previous comment titled "The Mystery of the Face of the Other" in which I write about the thought of a great ethical thinker Emmanuel Levinas:

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--