Last modified on 14 September 2014, at 09:42

The Golden Rule

The ethic of reciprocity or the Golden Rule is a fundamental moral value which simply means "treat others as you would like to be treated." It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

Historical expressionEdit

  • Ἐὰν ἃ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἐπιτιμῶμεν, αὐτοὶ μὴ δρῶμεν
    • Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.
    • Thales, as quoted in The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius Iː36
  • לֹא-תִקֹּם וְלֹא-תִטֹּר אֶת-בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ, וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ: אֲנִי, יְהוָה
    • οὐκ ἐκδικᾶταί σου ἡ χείρ, καὶ οὐ μηνιεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς τοῦ λαοῦ σου, καὶ ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν
    • Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but though shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
    • Leviticus 19:18
  • ὃ μισεῖς, μηδενὶ ποιήσῃς
    • Never do to anyone else anything that you would not want someone to do to you.
    • Tobit 4:15
  • 己所不欲,勿施於人。
    • What you do not want others to do to you, do not do unto others.
    • Confucius, Analects, XV:24, c. 500 BCE
  • sic cum inferiore vivas quemadmodum tecum superiorem velis vivere.
    • Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors.
    • Seneca the Younger, in the Epistle 47, line 11
  • ἃ πάσχοντες ὑφʹ ἑτέρων ὀργίζεσθε, ταῦτα τοὺς ἄλλους μὴ ποιεῖτε.
    • What thou thyself hatest, do to no man.
    • Isocrates, 3.61
  • ὅσα ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς
    • 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.
    • Matthew 7:12, c. first century CE
  • καθὼς θέλετε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς ὁμοίως.
    • As you would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
    • Luke 6:31, c. first century CE
  • πάντα δὲ ὅσα ἐὰν θελήσῃς μὴ γίνεσθαί σοι, καὶ σὺ ἄλλῳ μὴ ποίει.
    • All things whatsoever that thou wouldst not wish to be done to thee, do thou also not to another.
    • The Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles 1.2 (1.5 in Joseph Barber Lightfoot translation), c. 135 CE
  • דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד
    • That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.
    • Talmud, Shabbat 31a, c. 200 CE
  • न तत्परस्य संदध्यात्प्रतिकूलं यदात्मनः।
    एष संक्षेपतो धर्मः कामादन्यः प्रवर्तते ॥
    • na tat parasya saṁdadhyāt pratikūlaṁ yad ātmanaḥ.
      eṣa saṁkṣepato dharmaḥ kāmād anyaḥ pravartate.
    • One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.
    • Mahabharata, Anushasana Parva 113:8, c. 2nd century CE
  • Ἐρωτηθεὶς πῶς ἂν τοῖς φίλοις προσφεροίμεθα, ἔφη, « ὡς ἂν εὐξαίμεθα αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν προσφέρεσθαι. »
    • The question was once put to Aristotle how we ought to behave to our friends; and his answer was, "As we should wish them to behave to us."
    • Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, Vː21, c. 3rd century CE
  • As ye will that men do to you, and do ye to them in like manner.
  • This is that law of the Gospel; whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them.
  • Do not that to another, which thou wouldest not have done to thyself.
  • My duty towards my neighbor is to love him as myself, and to do to all men as I would they should do unto me.
  • Quod malum tibi fieri nolles, à faciendo illud alteri ipse debes abstinere, quoad fieri potest absque tertii alicujus injuria.
    • The evil that you do not wish done to you, you ought to refrain from doing to another, so far as may be done without injury to some third person.
    • Henry More, Enchiridion Ethicum, Chap. 4 (Noema XV), 1667
  • ...bonum quod unusquisque qui virtutem sectatur, sibi appetit, reliquis hominibus etiam cupiet.
    • The good, which each follower of virtue seeks for himself, he will desire also for others.
    • Baruch Spinoza, Ethica, Part 4 (Prop. XXXVII), 1667 (as translated by R. H. M. Elwes)
  • If a man any ways doubt whether what he is going to do to another man be agreeable to the law of nature, then let him suppose himself to be in that other man's room.
    • John Wise, A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches, 1717
  • To do, as one would be done by, and to love one's neighbor as one's self, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality.
  • Reason shows me that if my happiness is desirable and a good, the equal happiness of any other person must be equally desirable.
  • Fais aux autres ce que tu voudrais qu'ils te fassent dans les mêmes circonstances.
    • Do unto others as you would have others do unto you in like case.
    • Peter Kropotkin, La Morale Anarchiste, 1891
  • The golden rule is a good standard which can perhaps even be improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they would be done by...
  • An it harm none, do as thou wilt
  • When you treat others as you want them to treat you, you liberate yourself.
    • Silo (1938–2010), Silo's Message, The Book, Chapter XIIIː Principles, Principle 10th (Latitude Press)
  • We make a growing commitment to follow the rule that reminds us to treat others as we want to be treated.
    • Silo, Silo's Message, The Experience, Recognition Ceremony
  • Learn to treat others in the way that you want to be treated.
    • Silo, Silo's Message, The Path
  • Ralph: When she put two potatoes on the table, one big one and one small one, you immediately took the big one without asking me what I wanted.
Norton: What would you have done?
Ralph: I would have taken the small one, of course.
Norton: You would?
Ralph: Yes, I would.
Norton: So, what are you complaining about? You got the small one!
  • The Honeymooners, as quoted in The Science of Good and Evil : Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule (2004) by Michael Shermer

General remarksEdit

  • (no one should) find the Golden Rule surprising in any way because at its base lies the foundation of most human interactions and exchanges and it can be found in countless texts throughout recorded history and from around the world — a testimony to its universality.
  • Hillel Ha-Babli, in the thirty-first book of The Sabbath in 30 B.C.E., raised the Golden Rule to the ultimate moral principle: "Whatsoever thou wouldst that men should not do unto thee, do not do unto them. This is the whole Law. The rest is explanation."
  • What has become of the Golden Rule? It exists, it continues to sparkle, and is well taken care of. It is Exhibit A in the Church's assets, and we pull it out every Sunday and give it an airing...It is strictly religious furniture, like an acolyte, or a contribution-plate, or any of those things. It is never intruded into business; and Jewish persecution is not a religious passion, it is a business passion.