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Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is an ethical statement which is found in nearly every religion. It is also called the ethic of reciprocity.


Here is a short list of statements of the golden rule, in chronological order:

700 BCE "That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self." - Dadistan-i-Dinik 94:5, Zoroastrianism.

? BCE "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." - Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29, Zoroastrianism.

500 BCE "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." - Udana-Varga 5:18, Buddhism.

500 BCE "Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you." - Analects 15:23, Confucianism.

500 BCE "one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life [is] reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire." - Doctrine of the Mean 13.3, Confucianism.

500 BCE "Therefore, neither does he [, a sage,] cause violence to others nor does he make others do so." - Acarangasutra 5.101-2, Jainism.

400 BCE "Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others." - Socrates.

300 BCE "One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire." - Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8 (Mencius Vii.A.4?), Hinduism.

150 BCE "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." - Mahabharata 5:1517, Brahmanism and Hinduism.

90 CE "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." - Epictetus.

58 CE "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." - The King James Bible, Luke 6:31, Christianity.

90 CE "[A]ll things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." - The King James Bible, Matthew 7:12, Christianity.

100 CE "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." - Talmud, Shabbat 31a, Judaism.

800 CE "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." - Hadith ?, Islam.

? CE "And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." - Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 30, Bahá'í.

1870 CE "He should not wish for others what he does not wish for himself." - Baha'u'llah, Bahá'í.

1999 CE "don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you." - British Humanist society, Humanism.

Note that the positive Christian, Muslim, and Bahá'í versions differ from the negative rules in that they call for actions done that the recipients might not want.

Non-religious systems

A somewhat similar basis for ethic behaviour is often found also in non-religious ethical systems as, for instance, in Immanuel Kant's Critique of Practical Reason: "The rule of the judgement according to laws of pure practical reason is this: ask yourself whether, if the action you propose were to take place by a law of the system of nature of which you were yourself a part, you could regard it as possible by your own will. (...) If the maxim of the action is not such as to stand the test of the form of a universal law of nature, then it is morally impossible" (trans. T.K. Abbott). This is known as the categorical imperative.

See also: Wiccan Rede

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