The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is a principle found in many cultures. Wikipedia defines it like this:

The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocitygolden-rule is a moral maxim or principle of altruism found in many human cultures and religions, suggesting it may be fundamental to human nature:

  • One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself
  • One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated

The Golden Rule differs from the maxim of reciprocity captured in do ut des – “I give so that you will give in return” – and is rather a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of another without the expectation of anything in return.

Jesus makes a very succinct statement of the Golden Rule in the sermon on the mount:

In all things, whatever you want others to do to you, do the same to them

Later, when a lawyer asks him “which is the greatest commandment in the law?”, Jesus answers:

Love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the teachings of the prophets.

“Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself” has been seen as a restatement of the Golden Rule, but it goes much further than unilateral action. It is a statement of the intrinsic worth of all human life, and of renouncing the ego and becoming truly selfless.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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