Christianity: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law of the prophets.

Matthew, 7:12

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.

Talmud, Shabbat, 31a

Brahmanism: This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.

Mahabharata, 5, 1517

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

Udana-Varga, 5, 18

Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.

Analects, 15, 23

Taoism: Regard you neighbor's gain as your own gain and your neighbor's loss as your own loss.

T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien

Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.

Dadistan-i-dinik, 94, 5

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.


If I could live my life completely by one maxim, this would be it. It seems to fit so perfectly with my perception of how people should be treating each other.

This advice was taught by Jesus during The Sermon on the Mount. It can be found at Matthew chapter 7, verse 12.

Before you flame someone, ask yourself "Would I want them to flame me?" Before driving dangerously or drunk, ask "If I were driving, would I want a dangerous driver near me?"

Unfortunately, such a maxim is connected to a religion. Hence people will shun the advice simply because it is religious, or it is not "from their religion."

I learnt this from the Bible, but I don't view it as a Christian Value. As I see it, treating others as you would want to be treated by them is a fundamental part of being a moral, caring and thoughtful human being. I'd guess that most of us know someone who we hold up as a great person to know, someone who is always nice to others and is great to be around. It doesn't always follow that this person will be religious, they just care about their fellow humans - They are selfless at their core. I strive within myself to be such a person; a calm, Buddha-like, serene, happy, thankful, helpful guy.

So, the advice for Noders? Before downvoting or making a silly softlink, ask yourself "Would I want anyone to do this to me?" (dizzy grins, ducks and runs)

I suggest you read Dr. Plaid's writeup below; it explains the difference between a couple of different interpretations of this rule. Several people have misunderstood this phrase, or taken it too literally.

Yes these are words to live by. I am by no means a religious person. Though I can agree with that statement, it is 100% common sense. Treat people like you want to be treated. I do exactly that. When folks get cheeky with me, I'll get equally cheeky with them. Doesn't matter who they are, bill collectors, tele-marketers, my boss, the Philadelphia Police or even the Pope. But the pope isn't an asshole like the others I mentioned, right?

I try to teach by example. It's not easy to pick up a book (such as the bible, or a CCNA Study Guide) and do something correctly without having practiced it first.

People tend to misunderstand where the anger is coming from when I turn it back on them. "Why are you so hostile and defensive?", they say. "Because, that's all I got from you just now was hostility.", I say. Makes them think a little and choose their words carefully.

Does it solve every conflict? No, not all of them. Does it prevent conflicts from occuring? Definately not the initial conflicts or problems that arise. Practice makes perfect.

I'm not much of a religious fellow, but what OmegaRED is saying sounds more like Do unto others as they do unto you, which would be taught in the Satanic Bible.
Rather than Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, which is taught in one form or another in most other organized religions.

An interesting story I heard many years ago:

A couple moved to a new town. They were wondering how their new neighbors would accept them. So, they asked an old man:

"Are the people in this town nice and friendly, or are they mean?"

The old man asked, "How were the people in the town you came from?"

"Oh, they were very nice! That is why we are concerned..."

"Not to worry," said the old man. "The people in this town are very nice, too."

A couple months later, another new couple moved to town. They, too, asked the old man the same question.

"How were the people in the town you came from?" asked the old man.

"Oh, they were very nasty! That is why we moved away."

"Sorry to disappoint you," said the old man. "But you will find the people of this town equally as nasty."

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules"
-- George Bernard Shaw

Ethics is a well defined branch of philosophy, carefully churning over ideas and throwing out or modifying the bad ones. Thousands of papers and not a few books have been written about the golden rule (sometimes referred to as the ethic of reciprocity), and they all agree on one thing -- you can't take it too literally.

You don't need to give your baby nephew a new laptop for his first birthday, or Ching! that horrible writeup on toilet seats, or serve your grandmother a 6th helping of Thanksgiving turkey. So obviously, Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do To You is not a firm and fast rule. This drives philosophers mad.

In the book Formal Ethics Harry J. Gensler attempts to give a complete logical breakdown of the rule, in terms simple enough for the average nudnik to understand. He uses formal logic to forge a 'perfect' form of this statement. He deals with problems such as masochists, dealing with children (when they need punishment), and professionals (when wanting something that you cannot give).

Example Problem: I want this doctor to remove my tonsils. So, I will remove his.

The solution is to modify the rule (The Golden rule) to Do unto others as you would have them do unto you if the roles were reversed.

Another Example Problem: I don't like being downvoted. So I won't downvote.

The solution: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you if you were in the same state -- if I were writing stuff like that, then I should be downvoted!

Of course, those of us who are not philosophers have an easier solution, a commonsense one that usually doesn't even need to be stated. Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You, Unless Their Is A Good Reason Not To. Surprisingly, the eminent philosopher Karl Popper actually put this rather well; "The golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they want to be done by."

The golden rule does not include revenge. That would be 'Treat others as they treat you." Somewhat less noble.

Stick a whole bunch of AI constructs into some program space and have them perform the prisoner's dilemma on each other. Those that adhere to The Golden Rule will quickly be screwed.

Interestingly enough, the most successful algorithm to employ in this case is a combination of both the biblical and satanic rules:

The first time you meet another construct, do unto it as you would have it do unto you. Thereafter, do unto it as it last did unto you.

Constructs that follow this algorithm will always lose slightly to the purely cynical/satanic versions, but the gains they make in interfacing with fellow constructs that share the same philosophy will be much greater than when what the cynical constructs get when they interact.

When I read this in Metamagical Themas, the moral was driven home more eloquently.

What bitter_engineer was referring to with:
"The first time you meet another construct, do unto it as you would have it do unto you. Thereafter, do unto it as it last did unto you. "
is the Tit-for-Tat program.

When a veritable swarm of simple programs (simple being relative) were put into a random pool to interact with each other in an Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma situation, the program that did the best was Tit-for-tat. It had a one cell memory, and though it always began by trusting its fellow prisoner, during every turn thereafter, it did exactly what that particular opponent/program did during the previous turn.

This was by far the simplest program. There were several that were pages and pages of code and tried to use statistical maneuvering and various other tactics in order to get a few extra points.

What's important to note about this particular game theory model is that it assumes opponents are strangers. This is very important.

This means that in daily life such a strategy will not be optimal. This is due to the fact that social norms, social capital, and other altruistic benefits (don't listen to the present objectivists - they do exist) are simply not taken into account. We are social beings and to always act like a prisoner awaiting a sentence will certainly not lead to all roses and sunshine.

To take on where freeborn took off-
On a second round of iterated-prisoners-dilemma, the composers of the programs within it knew the results on the first round. The best score was given to Tit-for-two-tats, i.e, give your opponent a chance to correct its ways. This is also very important in shaking-hands situations – where you may decide to cooperate but accidentally betray, or vice-versa (decide to betray and accidentally cooperate). So – do onto others, then act like them, but give them a second chance.

For many years I thought of the Golden Rule as a pretty decent plank in a solid platform for behavior. During an argument with a girlfriend about the way we interacted with each other I tried to explain the basic nature of my behavior with one of the Rule's carious incarnations:

"Treat others as you would have them treat you."

She cocked an eyebrow and retorted with:

"Other people don't want to be treated like you want to be treated; they want to be treated like they want to be treated."

The surety that she had cut-and-pasted that little gem from some relationship guru's manual didn't prevent me from being silenced and stunned and then conceding the point to her. For one moment in the totality of our relationship, she had said something while discussing our situation that wasn't simple sophistry or blathering idiocy. She had my attention - but not for long. You see, while her point was valid, she wasn't talkin' the way she was walkin'. She never once really seemed to care about how I wanted to be treated. So my train of thought quickly derailed from the topic at hand and moved on to this new conundrum. Was the Golden Rule flawed? How could I have missed this?

How do other people know how you want to be treated? Well, you could advertise your desire by treating newcomers as you would have them treat you and hope they get the hint.

How do you know how other people want to be treated? A good mixture of listening to what they say and observing how they treat you would be a good place to start.

Once you know how another person wants to be treated it is probably no longer appropriate to treat them the way you want to be treated if their treatment preference is different that your preference and their preference is acceptable to you.
For God's sake, man, call an editor, STAT!! This sentence is hemorrhaging!!

Ummm, what I meant to say was that using the Golden Rule as a template for inter-personal relationships is peachy keen as a default beginning. It isn't an autopilot, and I suggest you disengage it, listen and think, once you get into interesting territory.

Positive and negative formulations of the golden rule. Rules like this can divided into two forms: 'positive' and 'negative'. Generally, the positive formulation follows a form something like "treat others the way you want to be treated." The negative formulation says "don't treat others the way you don't want to be treated," which seems to be more an exhortation to 'live and let live', instead of an exhortation to actively go out and make other people's lives better.

The forms quoted previously from Christian, Islamic, and Taoist sources are 'positive' forms. The others are negative forms. (curiously, these are the newest religions in the list)

Which is better? Proponents of the 'positive' formulation like myself argue that there's no love in merely avoiding harming others. William James once said that being invisible is worse than torture, and by the same token, merely avoiding the active harming of others isn't far enough; nor does practising it result in a just world - it gives you an uncaring world (like a mighty capitalist dystopia) where, contrary to truth, every man considers himself an island.
People who prefer the negative formulation tend to argue that, being human, there's no way we could ever hope to actually positively love everyone all the time, and anyone who tries to is a hypocrite. So we should stick with something realistic, which is avoiding harming others.

Personally, I don't think attainability is the point.

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