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by ZweiBieren Civility – There is no undo pens in a mug

Most religions prescribe some form of the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Since CWHQ encourages you to have another religion, that religion most likely already impels you to follow that Rule.

C_Q adds to the Golden Rule a precept derived from the Arrow of Time. That arrow prevents us from going backward in time. In theory, quantum interactions can be reversed. But this is only on very small time scales. (One way to look at negative particles like anti-protons is that they are positive particles moving backward in time.) By choosing to accept the causal & perceptual Arrows of Time, C_Q prescribes

There Is No Undo

When you embrace, "There Is No Undo," you are recognizing that your actions have irretrievable consequences. You must scrutinize most carefully that which you are about to do, especially if you would prefer not to be the brunt of the same. Before acting beware, "There Is No Undo."


The most familiar form of the Golden Rule, at least in the USA, is

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

Indeed, this is the only context where most Americans use the word "unto". So when and where did this version arise? Michael Scheifler has traced it to a Catholic Catechism by Lawrence Vaux first published in 1567. The 1583 edition summarizes the last seven commandments as saying they

command us to give reverence and honor to every man in his degree, to profit all, and hurt none: to do unto others, as we would be done to ourselves.

According to Wikipedia [WGR], the name "Golden Rule", or "Golden law", arose among Anglicans in 1604 Britain.

Notable Versions of The Golden Rule

Egypt, Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BC) - Now this is the command: Do to the doer to make him do [the same to you]. [WGR] (This version appears in a story, The Eloquent Peasant. It seems to imply a transactional ethic, which is counter to the spirit of the Golden Rule; but it may have suffered in translation.)

Leviticus 19:18 - You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. [WGR]

Thales (fl. 580 B.C.E.) - How shall we lead the best and most righteous life? By refraining from doing what we blame in others. [Encyclopedia of Ethics-EE]

Socrates (470-399 B.C.E) - Do to other as thou wouldst they should do to thee, and do to none other but as thou wouldst be done to. (This was one of the earliest appearances in printed English. It appeared in Earl Rivers' translation of Socrates (Dictes and Sayenges of the Philosophirs, 1477)) [FD]

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) - To the question how we should behave to friends, [Aristotle] answered, ‘As we should wish them to behave to us.’ [EE]

Hindu (Mahābhārata 13.114.8 : Critical edition) - One should never do something to others that one would regard as an injury to one's own self. In brief, this is dharma. Anything else is succumbing to desire. [WGR]

Matthew (7:12) - All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. [EE]

Luke (6:31) - As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. [EE]

Wyld Stallynism (Preston's Precept, 1989) - Be excellent to one another! [B&T]

Problems with the Golden Rule

The Encyclopedia of Ethics [EE] reviews how philosphers over the years have punctiliously dissected the Golden Rule. They have delved deeper and deeper into the general principle finding numerous particular cases to complain about. Finally EE casts that aside by citing Hans Reiner, who argued in 1983, that the Golden Rule "presupposes a moral standard, viz. my judgments of the conduct of others,” and therefore “does contain a standard… and one of no slight consequence… . It gives us a standard to judge our own conduct [by] referring us to our judgments of similar conduct on the part of others… ."

Finally EE points out that the Golden Rule being "basic to the moral codes of so many and such different peoples would seem to entail that it is a fundamental normative moral principle, connected inextricably with human nature... ."

Each of us must interpret the Golden Rule for ourselves, not laboring over the details, but keeping in mind our purpose. Belabored hypothetical arguments may be what you like, but not everyone does. If you are torn in an actual situation, make your best guess and move on.

Remember that a transactional approach is bankrupt. Do not base your actions on what you hope to receive in return. You can hope those to whom you do will respond in like manner, but theyt usually won't do exactly what you think they should. They may be irreligious, or they may have an incorrect understanding of you own wants.

I have always considered that the positive form of the rule subsumes the negative. That is, the word "do" refers to all manner of doing, whether doing, abstaining, or simply thinking about. In writing this page, however, I have come to wonder whether it is in fact necessary to express both the assertive and the admonitory forms of the Rule. The omportant part, I think, is that you always think of the needs, dreads, and beliefs of anyone you interact with.

Suppose Tom loves loud effusive greetings and Bob is shy and quiet. How should each greet the other? Each must judge how the other feels and adopt an approach that is pretty much the average between their individual styles and the style most people would adopt when standing where you are. The Golden Rule asks both Tom and Bob to be aware of the social norm and the other's preference.

[B&T] Matheson, Chris, Ed Solomon, Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Movie. Directed by Stephen Herek. Los Angeles: Orion Pictures, 1989. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%26_Ted%27s_Excellent_Adventure

[EE] Encyclopedia of Ethics, ed. Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker, Routledge, 2001 {With a University of Pittsburgh login, the Golden Rule page is addressed as https://search-credoreference-com.pitt.idm.oclc.org/content/entry/routethics/golden_rule/0. Your own University may also have a subscription to the Encyclopedia.}

[FD] https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com

[WGR] Wikipedia Contributors. “Golden Rule.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule.

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