The Golden Rule of Morals - Ethics

The Golden Rule of Morality

Taleon meant committing revenge, equal to misdemeanor, but you can also look at it from the other side. Equal retribution was required not only for crime, but for good. Let's say one community helped another to cope with hunger, respectively, that, in turn, had to repay her. Mutual gratitude strengthened the bond between the tribes and gave them new opportunities in the struggle for survival. An important role was played also by the custom of donations. The gift was to accompany almost any form of communication between communities. Surprisingly, even before the fights, the parties often exchanged gifts. The community, which received the gift, considered itself obliged to present an equally valuable gift. Both of these manifestations of benevolence - gratitude and gift - made relations between the tribes more stable and not indifferent to the fate of each other. Obviously, both sides of the talion-revenge and gratitude-have experienced mutual influence and henceforth the links between the neighboring genera could not be reduced only to the equivalent mechanical retaliation. It is difficult to specify an exact algorithm shedding light on the talion decay, but there is no doubt that revenge in some cases could be replaced by mercy and forgiveness. Thus, justice was restored not by violence, but by an open declaration that harm done to the community can not become a reason for the destruction of good relations with neighbors.

In the above-mentioned arches of ancient laws, not only the form of the talion is encountered, but also clear evidence of a departure from the principle of equal retribution for the sake of something higher. For example, the right of forgiveness could be granted to the ruler just as a certificate of his unlimited power, or the community could forgive his relatives for not wanting to provoke strife. But the main thing is that in the states of ancient civilizations there are public courts where during the consideration of cases a lot of circumstances were clarified - softening or aggravating, not allowing strictly to apply the principle of talion. The purpose of the trial was to restore justice, and it is not the most important way to do this: pursuing the idea of ​​strict equality between crime and punishment, or considering the dignity of one of the defendants, which gave him the right to leniency.

The idea of ​​equal retribution for actions, considered with respect to personal guilt, eventually leads to the idea of ​​equality of people themselves. Realizing his individuality, a person understood that in relation to him comes the same person who has similar feelings and interests. A mature form of morality, involving a combination of an immutable demand and an ideal idea of ​​the true relationship between people, has become the "golden rule of morality."

There are two formulations in it: the positive one - & act in relation to the other the way you would like to be treated in relation to you, and negative - "Do not do to others what you do not want to be reminded of."

Studying the origins of the appearance of the golden rule leads us to one amazing thing: in all the ancient cultures that left behind written testimonies, we find some formulations of this moral demand. Ancient India and China, Greece, the Bible, the Avesta and the Koran - all without saying a word, formulate the golden rule as the standard of human relations. The most detailed formulation of it, containing all the shades of meaning, is found in the Gospel: So in everything, whatever you want people to do with you, so do you also with the leak; for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12) The universal distribution of the golden rule in the ancient world allows us to talk about its universal, universal significance. What does it mean? First, it radically restricts selfishness, demanding to reckon with the goals and desires of the other person. Secondly, it calls for free building relationships with other people, organizing them in accordance with their own perception of the correctness, and not imposed from outside requirements. Further, the golden rule reveals another person as a person experiencing similar desires and deserving care of themselves. Finally, it establishes a truly moral, not a legal equality between people, linking them with obligations of mutual respect and recognition of each other's dignity. It is worth noting that it is the appearance of the golden rule of morality that makes it possible to speak of the final liberation of man from the bonds of collective consciousness and consolidates his status as a morally independent entity.

Despite the fact that the humanistic pathos of the golden rule is obvious, he had many critics. So, Nietzsche argued that his consistent execution makes from morals a bargaining chip, forcing people to act on the principle of "you - me, I - you". Allegedly, a person who wants his own benefit will act for the sake of the interest of the other, so that, in turn, helps him achieve the desired. In other words, the golden rule expresses pragmatic, not moral, relations.

The truth is in this comment. Indeed, this universal rule does not exclude pragmatism, but, on the other hand, it does not exclude morality. Nietzsche is right that the golden rule can not be considered the last and final moral requirement. In the future, moral consciousness has put forward many other ideas about the essence of humanity, which we discussed in previous chapters. In particular, the next great moral achievement of mankind was the commandment of love, which made the accent no longer a personal desire, but a demand to treat the other in the way God commanded us.

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