Golden Rule

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Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew

The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is an ethical directive which has been expressed in many moral maxims which essentially state that "one should treat others as you want to be treated", or that "one should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated" (in this form it is also known as "the Silver Rule").


Variant expressions of the Golden Rule, in order of historical appearance
  • ab alterō expectēs quod alterī fēceris
  • :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
      • You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, and you shall love your friend/neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.
  • כְּאֶזְרָח מִכֶּם יִהְיֶה לָכֶם הַגֵּ֣ר הַגָּ֣ר אִתְּכֶם וְאָהַבְתָּ֥ לוֹ֙ כָּמוֹךָ כִּֽי־גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם אֲנִי יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
    • Like a native from among you shall the stranger who sojourns with you be for you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God.
  • Ἐὰν ἃ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἐπιτιμῶμεν, αὐτοὶ μὴ δρῶμεν
    • Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.
  • That character is best that doesn't do to another what isn't good for itself" and "Don't do to others what isn't good for you.
  • Universal love is to regard another's state as one's own. A person of universal love will take care of his friend as he does of himself, and take care of his friend's parents as his own. So when he finds his friend hungry he will feed him, and when he finds him cold he will clothe him.
  • ἃ πάσχοντες ὑφʹ ἑτέρων ὀργίζεσθε, ταῦτα τοὺς ἄλλους μὴ ποιεῖτε.
    • What thou thyself hatest, do to no man.
  • ὃ μισεῖς, μηδενὶ ποιήσῃς
    • Never do to anyone else anything that you would not want someone to do to you.
  • न तत्परस्य संदध्यात्प्रतिकूलं यदात्मनः।
    एष संक्षेपतो धर्मः कामादन्यः प्रवर्तते ॥
    • na tat parasya saṁdadhyāt pratikūlaṁ yad ātmanaḥ.
      eṣa saṁkṣepato dharmaḥ kāmād anyaḥ pravartate.
  • 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."
  • ὅσα ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς
  • 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.
    • As ye will that men do to you, and do ye to them in like manner.
  • 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 (c. 135 CE), 1.2 (or 1.5 in the Joseph Barber Lightfoot translation)
  • What you shun enduring yourself, don't impose on others. You shun slavery - beware of enslaving others!
  • דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד. זו היא כל התורה כולה, ואידך פירושה הוא: זיל גמור
    • D'`alakh s'nai l'khavrekh la ta`avaid. Zo hi kol hatora kulahh, ve'idakh perusha hu: zil g'mor
  • Whatever I wish for myself, I am to wish for another; and whatever I do not wish for myself or for my friends, I am not to wish for another. This injunction is contained in God's words: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
    • Maimonides, Sefer Hamitzvot (positive commandment 208), c.1200
  • Each one should do unto others as he would have others do unto him.
    • Manco Cápac, Inca leader in Peru c. 1200 (Wattles 1996: 192)
  • Do not that to another, which thou wouldest not have done to thyself.
  • This is that law of the Gospel; whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them.
  • 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.
  • ...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 (1667), Part 4, Prop. XXXVII, as translated by R. H. M. Elwes
  • 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 (1667), Chap. 4, Noema XV
  • 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, in A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches (1717)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Learn to treat others in the way that you want to be treated.
    • Silo, in Silo's Message (2008), The Path

Quotes about the Golden Rule

  • Jesus offers his disciples a simple rule of thumb which will enable even the least sophisticated of them to tell whether his intercourse with others is on the right lines or not. All he need do is to say “I” instead of “Thou,” and put himself in the other man’s place.
  • The golden rule is a good standard which can perhaps even be improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they would be done (unto)...
  • [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.
  • No matter how much and often it is betrayed and violated, the “Golden Rule” remains a moral standard theoretically valid for all human beings, be they religious or not. …This Rule is defined as made of gold because it grants, if observed and implemented, true justice, hence unlimited peace. …Its secret is quite simple. No one of us wants to suffer evil. If others are expected to do to us what we do to them, to suffer no evil it is then enough to avoid doing evil. It is so simple in theory that it is difficult in practice. Probably this is why an elementary principle like this needs a divine book to be taught time and again.
  • When you treat others as you want them to treat you, you liberate yourself.
    • Silo, in Silo's Message (2008) The Book, Chapter XIIIː Principles, Principle 10
  • We make a growing commitment to follow the rule that reminds us to treat others as we want to be treated.
    • Silo, in Silo's Message (2008), The Experience, Recognition Ceremony
  • ... if we are to adhere to the Golden Rule, we should give especially high priority to the alleviation of the extreme suffering of others.
    • Magnus Vinding, Suffering-Focused Ethics: Defense and Implications (2020), p. 99
  • It is often mistakenly held that the key concept of Jesus' ethic is the "Golden Rule": "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is stated by Jesus, however, not as the sum of his own teaching but as the center of the law (Mark 12:28-29, Matt. 22:40, citing Lev. 19:15). But Jesus' own "fulfillment" of this thrust of the law, which thereby becomes through his own work a "new commandment" (John 13:34, 15:12, 1 John 2:18) is different, "Do as I have done to you" or "do as the Father did in sending his Son."

The following quotes are often taken as equivalent to the golden rule, but in fact they are not:

  • Sic cum inferiore vivas quemadmodum tecum superiorem velis vivere.
    • Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors.
  • An it harm none, do as thou wilt.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" is the greatest phrase ever written. If everyone followed that creed, this world would be a paradise.

See also

Wikipedia has an article about:

Golden rule chronology, Harry Gensler, S. J.

"The Golden Rule", Bill Puka, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy