Descriptive Golden Rule

Lesson 1: Topic 19 of 19

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when considering the Golden Rule in every single situation. Therefore we suggest thinking of it as descriptive, not prescriptive:

The rule’s highly circumscribed social scope in the cultures of its role in framing psychological outlooks toward others, not directing behavior. This emphasis eases the rule’s “burdens of obligation,” which are already more manageable than expected in the rule’s primary role, socializing children. The rule is distinguished from highly supererogatory rationales commonly confused with it – loving thy neighbor as thyself, turning the other cheek, and aiding the poor, homeless and afflicted. Like agape, these precepts demand much more altruism of us, and are much more liable to utopianism. The golden rule urges more feasible other-directedness and egalitarianism in our outlook.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

In plain English: the Golden Rule is an outlook on life. Focus on others – for our own good as well as theirs – in hopes of helping without worrying about what happens next. It’s about overall attitude, not results.   

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