Comment: The original meaning of the Golden Rule...

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Asclepius's picture

The original meaning of the Golden Rule...

From the orthodox Christian perspective, the Golden Rule defined as the words "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" are claimed to be one of the original teachings of Jesus.

This is problematic for at two reasons. First, because Jesus himself never wrote anything down, we are told to accept these words verbatim in a syntax written by someone other than Christ himself. Second, a version which predates the teachings attributed to Jesus was given by the Jewish spiritual and ethical Rabbi, Hillel as "Do not do unto others that which is hateful unto thee."

Thus, when presented in this earlier form, the Golden Rule is no longer an unclear Utopian morality, but rather a common sense rule of conduct that is inherently humane. After all, what is "hateful" to someone is self-evident and can be tested by experience.

But, in the words attributed to Jesus, the Golden Rule becomes about what we want from others, which can lead to using people for personal ends.

This is called prudential (directional) morality, a moral code that obliges us to do things for the betterment of our own souls. If we do good for others, we will be rewarded for doing so.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds. - Bob Marley