The Golden Rule

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only source of morality we need is the Golden Rule.  Morality is the code of conduct we humans impose on ourselves in dealing with other humans.  I suppose we could have a separate morality for our dealings with animals and plants, but for purposes of creating a harmonious environment for humans on this planet, the Golden Rule is the key.

I notice that at any given time during the day, when I have to interact with my fellow man, I have conflicting and reinforcing impulses and results. There are times when I get pissed off, especially if I see someone doing something totally selfish and potentially harmful. This often happens when driving. Most drivers don’t have anything but a self centered view of themselves when trying to get somewhere in traffic, it seems.  I actually find myself reacting this way at times, and have to force myself to act like I’m not the only one on the road.

But then there are times when people surprise me. A friend recently mentioned that she left her purse in her shopping cart after loading groceries into her car, and drove away without it. Another man found it,  dug through the purse, obtained her ID and phone number, and returned the purse to her intact. A cynic would not expect that. Someone who operates his life according the Golden Rule would not be surprised.

In the parking lot at Starbucks today, a woman stopped to allow my car to pass, and I waved a thank you to her. I was rewarded with a big smile. I often find myself holding doors open for people, or have them hold doors open for me. A gracious “Thank You” either way always makes me feel good, and by the looks on their faces, others feel the same way.

There is nothing like a smile on a human face, even an ugly one such as mine, to make my day. I can be feeling the worst of the worst, as if there was no burden heavier than the one I am presently shouldering, and someone can take it away in an instant, with a kind word, a gracious act, and especially a smile.

What is it about a smile that is so life affirming? But I digress.

“Treat others as you think you ought to be treated”

If you read other so-called sources for morality, you find that they all boil down to either rules to prop up the religion that lays claim to them, or the Golden Rule itself. Take the Ten Commandments.  The first four have nothing to do with morality, and everything to do wish slavish worship.  The balance you could simply chalk up to doing that which you would want done to you, or not doing that which you would not want done to you.

Murder? Can’t imagine anyone who wants to be murdered.

Theft? No one wants anything stolen from them.

Adultery? Would you like your wife having sex with someone else?

Islam isn’t much different. Read this link on Morality in Islam.  While the language of Islamic moral standards is wrapped in words echoing a supernatural or divine nature, much like Christianity and Judaism, it still boils down to a human element of the self.

1. The Commanding Self (Nafs-e-Ammâra) is the self, which incites the human being towards evil.

2. The Self-Accusing Spirit (Nafs-e-Lawwâma) is the second source of morality, the one judging the excellence of morals. It is the voice of the conscience which becomes loud when an act of indecency is being done. Every human being is endowed with this voice.

3. Love and Faith in the All-Mighty is the third and the ultimate source of morals.

The Third one is like the first four commandments, but the first two require an introspective analysis of human actions, intentions and motivations, much like the last 6 Commandments, and much like the Golden Rule. It’s right there in the explanation for number 2.

One aspect of getting a ruling from the voice of the conscience and from one’s heart is that when we are about to commit any action we should first imagine to apply such an action to ourselves. If we are not adversely affected by this action and if it proves to be good and effective for us, such an action would also be beneficial and good for others.

You don’t need God or Allah for you to come to the conclusion that if it’s not good for us, it’s not good for others, and vice versa. And the idea that religion, and in particular Jesus, discovered the Golden Rule, is total nonsense. While in may be in ancient scriptures, including the Old Testament, Hindu and Confucian books, and others, it is most certainly a humanistic rule, because it was long determined by unknown and unheralded pre-historic humans to be applied to humans, and later co-opted by religion. Should you ask “how do you know that?’, ask yourself how any organized and cohesive civilization could have possibly evolved without some sense of altruism, as opposed to pure, naked self-absorption.

I’m convinced that humans are inherently good, that we want good done to ourselves, we want good to happen to us, we want a good life. It’s a struggle to get through this short life we have, and life is full of competition for resources, love, happiness, etc. If we kick our fellow humans out of the way to obtain a successful passage through life, someone else gets hurt. If we are considerate in our dealings with others, and they with us, life is much easier.

I’m sure this probably sounds simplistic, and it’s certainly not new. However, it bears repeating.

And repeating.

Smile! 😀

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74 thoughts on “The Golden Rule

      • SI, it’s a question: if you were homeless and on your luck, would you want somebody to help you out? A simple “yes” or “no” would suffice.

        • Smells like a trap to me.

          Simple “yes” or “no” answers rarely suffice. What’s meant by “help”? Am I going to be given a fish, shown how to fish, or given an opportunity to show I can fish? Is the help defined by me or the helper? And who is the helper? Perhaps I’d rather starve than receive a sandwich from the Klan for being a down on my luck whitey.

          Does the help carry strings? Must I suffer a sermon before, during, and/or after my help? Must I stand as a poster child for the “helping” program afterwards or in some way help promote the program? How about if my help comes as a result of hurting someone else? May I’ll have to hurt someone else in order to receive the help.

          “Yes” or “no” rarely suffice as answers. To suggest that they do likely either reveals ignorance or the existence of a hidden intent.

          • ..I’ve already answered you.

            You may have answered, but you haven’t answered my question. You dodged it, and now your boy’s here to tag-team at your side, so… forget it.

            • If you want to make a point about the post, do so. You don’t need to ask me a single question. Just make the point and assume what you want.

              If you don’t want to make a point, don’t.

              I don’t care one way or the other.

            • I’ll take that as an admission of a trap planned.

              For the record, SI didn’t answer. He probably thought the question so silly as to assume he did or that it didn’t really require one. I don’t know. So will we see links forever afterwards now to this as “proof” that SI dodges questions and even I would side with you on it? If so, then let me add this if in fact people will be sent to this comment – cl is a jackass. Also, should you quote part of this without the jackass part, jackass, I’ll call you on quote mining.

              Have a nice day! 🙂

            • Actually, I did answer. I deemed his question rhetorical. He must not know what that means. If he did, he could have extrapolated my answer to the question and moved to his point. He doesn’t seem to want to.

            • I know what “rhetorical” means, and I’ve no desire to use this exchange as evidence of anything. You just dodged, plain and simple. Typical, too: SI dodges, and AlphaMale comes in for back-up and name-calling. Team Scarlet A at its best.

            • Look cl. Your kettle’s been called black by the pot. It’s clear you’re maneuvering towards some point, that’s your MO. So why don’t you make it instead of playing all these little games designed to make you look intelligent. No one’s impressed.

              You want to discuss something? Discuss it. Otherwise, piss off.

            • And cl stands and poses… it’s just like pulling a trick now, isn’t it? And you know how to do that.

              You haven’t? Well let me ask you this, who hasn’t traded a little quick sex in a toilet cubicle for a sawbuck before?

              —-

              That was acting. Thank you.

            • Your kettle’s been called black by the pot.

              No, I’ve been called a “jackass” by PhillyChief, but that’s nothing new.

              It’s clear you’re maneuvering towards some point, that’s your MO.

              No, it’s clear you’re maneuvering away from answering a simple question.

              So why don’t you make it instead of playing all these little games designed to make you look intelligent.

              How would asking you a question make me look intelligent?

              No one’s impressed.

              Are they ever?

              You want to discuss something?

              I wanted to understand you better; that’s why I asked my question. You refuse to answer it. We’re at an impasse.

            • No worries. I’ll check back now and again in case you ever decide to answer the question: if you were homeless, hungry, and down on your luck, would you want somebody to buy you a meal?

            • SI,

              If you were homeless, hungry, and down on your luck, would you want somebody to buy you a meal? Yes or no? Why or why not? Just answer the question, and you’ll see that there’s no trap. I’m trying to understand you here.

            • See. I’m really curious now. What is so important that you can’t assume the obvious answer both from my post and the response to the first comment, and make your point. Why do you need a direct answer?

              It would work like this:

              “I’ll assume that SI would answer (yes or no) to my question, and assuming that ….(off and running with your point)”

              I’m not being difficult. I just don’t understand your semantic problem. Most people I know would just move on and make their point.

            • Most people I know would just move on and make their point.

              Who cares about “most people?” Why assume I have a point to make? I’m trying to understand your basis for morality. That’s it. You’re acting paranoid.

              I’ll assume that SI would answer (yes or no) to my question, and assuming that ….(off and running with your point)”

              You forget that not everybody prefers arguments based on assumptions.

  1. Nice to read how you have extracted only the most relevant part out of all the religious crap. (then again just reference from religions and not religions themselves)

  2. All the moral and ethical dilemmas really just come down to this. It covers things like “little white lies” — for anyone confused on whether they are doing the wrong thing by giving a less-than-brutally-honest answer to the question “does this make my butt look big?”

    It covers kindness, sympathy, empathy, courtesy, and respect for the feelings of others – and respect for their property and their rights.

    Such a simple concept, that covers so many complex things.

  3. The Golden Rule, particularly in its negative formulation, covers quite a lot of ethical ground. Does it cover all the ground? I’m not sure – I’d have to consider the question some more. The GR is a good place to start, though.

  4. I’m convinced that humans are inherently human.

    /What is it with all those bubbles falling through the test? It’s annoying.

    • That’s snow. Supposedly. Looks better on a darker theme. It comes on automatically until Jan 4, unless I turn it off. I finally figured out how to turn it off.

      Interestingly, I’ve had a lot of searches for “snow” show up in my stats, with almost 1000 views of a post I did on snow over a year ago.

  5. I don’t believe altruism exists. When those who seemingly sacrifice so much of themselves, sharing their time, abilities, and assets are asked why they do such things, you often hear responses like, “it makes me feel good to do it” or “someone had to do it”. Both, imo, reflect a self satisfaction. One can gain happiness, a buzz, a euphoric high from helping others. Why? Well one reason is it’s a validation of one’s power. Simply put, it feels good to know you can do something. Next, it’s also possible that further satisfaction can come from showing others that you can do something. It’s a flexing of your muscle before others. For the latter, seemingly more selfless response of “someone had to do it” or often expressed as “it was just the right thing to do”, again it could simply be a self stimulating exercise. There are those who derive pleasure from following the rules, from doing “the right thing”, and just like before, it also could be done to show others how “good” you are.

    Empathy plays a role as yet another source for self satisfaction. Without empathy, you could not gain self satisfaction from just the act of helping another. Your satisfaction would have to come from exercise of power, show of power to others, and/or acting dutifully. So fostering empathy is beneficial to society for it provides another source for self satisfaction gained from assisting others. Of course now we know people may have a varying predisposition for empathy, so some may never develop empathy regardless of how they were raised, and some may be so inclined towards it that even growing up as a subscriber to a non-empathy fostering belief system like Christianity won’t suppress it.

  6. I would say the Platinum Rule is even better: treat other people as THEY want to be treated. If you’re a masochist, not many people are going to want you to golden rule them :p

  7. Is there any reason the Platinum Rule and the Golden Rule can’t be paired? It wouldn’t be as inappropriate as pairing Chardonnay and steak, would it?

  8. My golden rule – Whoever has all the gold makes all the rules, unless the value of gold crashes after they’ve purchased it in which case they’ve been gypsied by Ron Paul rhetoric and Roslin Capital, lol.

  9. Or, how about the “Uranium Rule” or the “Tritium Rule”….You always here this bias toward gold as if it’s such the perfect atom or something, but that is a myth entirely perpetrated by bankers….perhaps the “Garbage Rule” or the “Energy Rule” would better apply to something that’s precious, or perhaps “Carbon Rule”?

  10. Pingback: Gold + Platinum Rule « An Apostate's Chapel

  11. SI, I suspect where CL is coming from with his question might be related to something you wrote in the comments section of my post below, where you wrote “I don’t give anyone anything anymore.”

    http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com/2009/07/of-course-im-still-going-to-burn-in.html

    Therefore, if you had answered “yes” to his question, then he probably would have thrown that quote at you to present you with the dilemma that you would not have helped you under your own rules. I could be mistaken about his intentions though.

    • You’re probably right, Tommy. He does seem to keep a database of quotes for easy quote mining, seemingly pulling them out of obscure places at the drop of a hat.

      Actually, I said in that comment that I have given money to people supposedly down on their luck (panhandlers) but my experience has been that they are all frauds. There are probably legitimate panhandlers out there, but it’s well nigh impossible to discern the real, needy ones from the fakes.

      They are not “homeless, hungry and down on their luck”. They are entrepreneurs.

    • Oho, good catch. And good catch on SI for knowing that cl was trying to pull something… he’s getting less and less subtle, if you ask me.

    • I doubt you’re mistaken about his intentions, only possibly the specifics of his execution of intent.;)

      Also, these morality questions rely on a lot of presuppositions. For instance, helping a panhandler is actually helping the panhandler. If we assume he’s actually down on his luck and in need, then maybe handing him some cash would help him. If on top of that he’s an addict and will use the money, regardless of his current state, to satisfy his addiction, then is giving cash really help? What if he’s disturbed? Maybe he wouldn’t even know what to do with the money or worse, others will see he has money and harm him to get it. Then of course there’s SI’s suspicion (and mine as well) that they’re simply full of shit most of the time.

      So just as yes or no answers rarely suffice, these kinds of questions rarely suffice to address the matter under discussion because they contain many presuppositions and probably can’t account for every possible wrinkle. Now assuming everyone is entering the discussion under good intentions, it’s ok as an exercise but not everyone does enter here under good intentions, do they? Such douchebags then can exploit the inherent inadequacies of these kinds of questions for nefarious ends.

  12. Of course, one can have a general rule of not giving money to panhandlers while supporting in principle a social safety net that one funds via a combination of tax dollars and charitable donations.

    For even the most bleeding hearts among us, there is a recognition that unless one is extremely wealthy, there is little one can do on one’s own to truly help a person who is homeless and down on his or her luck, apart from providing a few dollars to pay for a meal. By collectively pooling our efforts, more meaningful assistance can be offered.

  13. Tommykey was half-correct: that is what I was asking about, because I perceived an inconsistency between what SI told me before with what he wrote here. Where Tommykey was incorrect was his assumption that I was gonna “throw that quote” at SI.

    SI,

    He does seem to keep a database of quotes for easy quote mining,

    I challenge you to supply even a single instance of evidence for this claim.

    They are not “homeless, hungry and down on their luck”. They are entrepreneurs.

    I guess you got it all figured out, but, how will such an attitude put a smile on anyone’s face?

    PhillyChief,

    ..not everyone does enter here under good intentions, do they?

    No, they don’t: some of us only comment to others to puff up our own chest and make ourselves feel superior, and that’s certainly not good intention.

    Such douchebags then can exploit the inherent inadequacies of these kinds of questions for nefarious ends.

    See? Team Scarlet A at it’s finest: refutation by denigration. What is it with you boys, that you need to gang up every time? Do you guys really need back-up to debate? I don’t.

  14. CL, I didn’t assume you would throw the quote at him, I said probably, and then noted I could be mistaken. In other words, I gave it my best educated guess.

    • The main point is that you were spot on. He was going to pull out some comment from last summer unrelated to this to show that my statements are inconsistent, I’d be forced to then spend more time explaining how it’s not, and we’d go round and round on cl’s merry-go-round of semantic quibbling. And all this after reassuring me that he wasn’t trying to trap me.

      Now you know why I didn’t answer his question, although we still wasted roughly half these comments on his crap.

      As long as cl is the topic du jour, let me say that his constant whining about being “ganged up” on is getting tiresome too. He knows that this blog is written by someone who disagrees with his theological convictions, that most people who comment here tend to agree with me and not him, yet when more than one person disagrees with him, we’re ganging up on him, which implies that we don’t have any independent, singular convictions of our own, and can only defend or assert ourselves in a group.

      ‘Tis to laugh.

      • The problem is that the guy thinks he’s frickin’ Socrates. He thinks he’s walking around being a gadfly and getting everyone to think more deeply than they’re used to, when really he’s just being annoying.

        • Funny, TOG, how much you think you know about the motives of other people online. I wasn’t trying to get anyone to think deeply. I was trying to understand the balance between something SI told me months ago, and what he said here. Further, none of that involves you one bit, so why don’t’cha bugger off now, and go whine about how you don’t like me elsewhere? We all know already.

            • Thanks, SI. If you’ll notice, Jim really DID have this guy pegged:

              “‘Listen to me! This is my thread! This is MY CONVERSATION!’ This demonstrates the narcissistic need to be at the top of the hierarchy, pulling the strings, trying to get the other participants to dance to his tune. It’s like a child who refuses to have anything other than its own way. And if you don’t go along with the program, you’re the bad guy.”

              He really does want to control the conversation, on YOUR blog no less. And as much as he bitched at you for limiting Gideon’s ability to dirty up your blog, can there be any doubt at all that if I had the TEMERITY to show up on his blog and say similar things to the things I say here, that he would ban me? He will of course say that he wouldn’t, but from our past history of witnessing his hypocrisy, double-standards, and goalpost-shifting, can we reasonably believe otherwise? He’d do exactly the same thing as you did to Gideon, and claim “cleanup.”

              Though, to head cl’s certain objection off at the pass, my conduct is nothing like Gideon’s. I am pointing out things that cl does that prove his hypocrisy and irritating “quirks”; I am NOT going on homophobic scatological tirades in response to each and every post. I also make point when I post, which Gideon never did.

              Thanks for the nod, SI. It makes me feel a bit better about goings-on around here.

          • take this as you will. i usually don’t comment one way or another about a particular person.

            a word on cl, though.

            he DOES make valid arguments. on this blog and others, however, i see more people than not simply dismiss those arguments out of hand or engage him using ad hominem attacks and i can tell you as a third party observer, it makes those people’s positions seem weak.

            now, if you believe he’s a nutcase or a troll, bless you brother, that’s your god-given right (or not as the case may be). you may even be right. if that’s your stance, though, ignore his posts or ban him from posting if that’s within your power. if, however, you respond to him in a dismissive manner or attack his character (honestly or not), imho, it serves only to mitigate your argument – assuming you’re even making one.

            anyway my two cents worth.

            no charge.

            • And I’ll give you my two cents, Jason.

              From what I’ve seen of response around the ‘net, you’re in the small minority.

              Cl is a dishonest debater, of the “gotcha” style of rhetoric. You saw that here. He claimed no trap, but that’s exactly what he was doing, and it’s what he intended, his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

              If he occasionally makes a valid point, it’s usually on a peripheral issue, tangential to the post, and usually unenlightening.

              Actually, rather than go on and on, Jim has him pretty well pegged, here.

              And actually Jason, I’m curious about you. How well do you know cl? Did you know him before you ever posted here?

            • sorry about the positioning of this post – i didn’t see a way i could directly reply to your latest post si.

              “From what I’ve seen of response around the ‘net, you’re in the small minority.”

              okay. from my perspective i can’t affirm that to be true but let’s just say it is – should this be enough to change my opinion?

              “He claimed no trap, but that’s exactly what he was doing, and it’s what he intended, his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.”

              i find it implausible that anyone can know with total certainty what another’s intentions are. it seems to me that if you suspect a snare, the only sure fire way to know its really there would be to spring it.

              “If he occasionally makes a valid point, it’s usually on a peripheral issue, tangential to the post, and usually unenlightening.”

              sometimes i would agree with this and at other times i wouldn’t.

              “…Jim has him pretty well pegged…”

              read it. i’m not impressed by someone’s long winded character assassination of an individual they find distasteful no matter how well articulated it may be. everyone has a bad opinion of at least one other person. sometimes that’s exactly what they are – bad opinions.

              “How well do you know cl? Did you know him before you ever posted here?”

              i know him only by what i have read here, his blog, or on other blogs which is to say i personally don’t know him well at all.

            • “he DOES make valid arguments.”

              No, he doesn’t. He nitpicks, he harps on semantics, he plays word games, he equivocates, he quibbles, he dodges questions, and he LIES. For these reasons and others, he is a pain in Das Buut.

            • ah – i see how the positioning of replies works now.

              “No, he doesn’t. He nitpicks, he harps on semantics, he plays word games, he equivocates, he quibbles, he dodges questions, and he LIES. For these reasons and others, he is a pain in Das Buut.”

              again, this is a ad hominem attack. if he does all these things, a non-response is a much better countermeasure than a negative one.

              btw – das buut! i like it!! i’m stealing that one.

            • again, this is a ad hominem attack.

              No. An ad hominem would be something like “cl is an asshole” without anything to support that conclusion. What TOG did is summarize the reason why he agrees with me (He nitpicks, he harps on semantics, he plays word games, he equivocates, he quibbles, he dodges questions, and he LIES.) that he’s a dishonest debater, and concluded with a “pain in Das Buut (which arguably, without more, comes close to an ad hominem, but since it’s also an opinion/conclusion based on what precedes it, it’s not). Cl does all of those things, in my opinion.

              And if I felt like investing any more time on him, I’d go back and find instances of all of them, but as usual when he shows up, I’ve spent far more time on his crap than it’s worth.

            • An ad hominem would be something like “cl is an asshole” without anything to support that conclusion.

              i’m sorry but i didn’t see anything in tog’s post to support his conclusions. call someone an asshole or call them a lying nitpicker – doesn’t really matter when its a personal attack on a person and not a logical refutation of their argument.

            • hold on…let me check.

              yup. i’m sure i’m me and not him.

              c’mon man. are you yanking my chain with that question?

    • Tommykey,

      Noted.

      SI,

      He was going to pull out some comment from last summer unrelated to this to show that my statements are inconsistent, I’d be forced to then spend more time explaining how it’s not,

      Yeah, yeah.. yammer on like you know a thing or two. The plain truth is, I was not going to say anything as soon as you answered; I had resolved to leave the rest to you. It was a, “maybe he’ll see it, maybe he won’t” type of thing. Your inconsistencies – whether perceived or real – are not my problem.

      Now you know why I didn’t answer his question, although we still wasted roughly half these comments on his crap.

      If you would have but answered it the first time around, we wouldn’t have had to have done any of that, now would we? Next time I ask you a “yes” or “no” question, just give a straight answer and get on with yourself, and see what happens.

      As long as cl is the topic du jour, let me say that his constant whining about being “ganged up” on is getting tiresome too.

      Then, fend for yourselves and quit acting like thugs.

      ..when more than one person disagrees with him, we’re ganging up on him,

      No. Disagreeing with me != ganging up on me. OTOH, when your boy PhillyChief comes around to interject his opinions of me when I’m not even talking to him – or when you show up at Chaplain’s and accost me when I wasn’t talking to you – that’s ganging up, and it’s what Team Scarlet A does best.

      ‘Tis to laugh.

      There we can agree.

      jason,

      ..seeing as there is no good and evil in the animal kingdom, why are you convinced that humans possess this particular characteristic and how would it be inherent?

      Remember though, inconsistency is only a problem when exemplified by theists.

      • “Remember though, inconsistency is only a problem when exemplified by theists.”

        i wouldn’t say si is being inconsistent here but i believe that his logic of human morality being based on the golden rule is fundamentally flawed.

        history is replete with examples of groups of educated, charismatic, successful, persons that have acted in exact antithesis to the golden rule to further their personal and national interests – sometimes quite successfully, too.

        • How do examples of people successfully disregarding the GR in any way discredit the GR?

          If you’re reading his comment to mean people inherently follow the GR, then no, of course they all don’t and I don’t think that was his point.

          • si said: “…the only source of morality we need is the Golden Rule.”

            i disagree. i believe the gr to be incomplete. alone, it is insufficient to establish a basis on which to establish good moral decision making, namely because it is too gray. there’s just too much wiggle room in there. i see too much opportunity for opportunity, if you will. say you are a pro-choice supporter. you might say something like “i support abortion because i would want somebody to affirmatively support me if i chose to have an abortion.” the pro-life position would be the opposite but use the same logic. “i oppose abortion because i would not want to have been aborted.” that’s a bit simplified but i trust you get the gist of it.

            • What you’re using as the GR is the Christian variant of it, also known as the “positive” GR (which I find ironic), where it’s all framed in terms of yourself and not others (ie – “I would support abortion because I would want…”). I agree with you that it’s flawed and not a proper foundation.

              The original, or “negative” GR would be don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you. A bit harder to rationalize, but I can see how someone could twist it to deny a woman’s reproductive rights or anything else they don’t agree with (ie – ‘I wouldn’t want anyone to give me a choice to abort a fetus or smoke pot, so…’). Still, it would require twisting.

              The other side of the NGR coin would be to do for others so that they do for you. Still not ideal, but the key to the NGR over the PGR is knowledge and understanding of others. You need to know what they want and what they wouldn’t want, and also to try and put yourself in their position, and I think THAT activity is one that does help cement a good foundation for morality.

            • I wish everyone would stop philosophizing and read the fricking post.

              I said the GR is a “source for morality”. I didn’t say it was the only rule to live by, nor did I say it was the only source. Also, notice that I didn’t differentiate between negative, positive and combinations thereof.

              This is MY source. Did anyone notice the personal nature of the post? It’s what I need to tap into when I’m confronted with ethical and moral decisions. But YOU can also tap into it also. That doesn’t mean that my decisions will be the same as yours, just that we both started from the same place.

              If I think that the woman’s right to choose is paramount to that of 64 combined cells, then I will make a decision in favor of abortion. If you believe the 64 cells have a superior claim to life than the mother’s right to choose, you’ll decide against it. Society will shake it all out in the end. Me, I put myself in the place of the mother, not the 64 cells. You put yourself in the place of those cells.(Though, if you’re using the GR, that says a lot about your own self-perception.)

              The main point there is you don’t need a belief in a third component to the equation to come to your conclusions. You certainly have the right and the ability to convince yourself that you are doing god’s work, but you don’t have to.

              To throw in Hitler, or Mayans, or Pol Pot or whatever just is an attempt to muddy the water. Would you act like Hitler, or Pol Pot or the Mayans? Would you want to be treated the way they treated others? No. I wouldn’t either. The GR is still intact. The fact that they disregarded and acted in a different way is irrelevant.

      • The plain truth is, I was not going to say anything as soon as you answered; I had resolved to leave the rest to you.

        “But Mom. I WAS going to tell you I broke the lamp. You just found out before I could tell you!”

  15. “I’m convinced that humans are inherently good…”

    as opposed to…? inherently evil?

    seeing as there is no good and evil in the animal kingdom, why are you convinced that humans possess this particular characteristic and how would it be inherent?

    • That’s a good question. I think my statement is hopefully optimistic, more than anything. The post itself was trying to look at humans in a positive light, so it’s in keeping with the intent. But as cl likes to constantly point out, it’s just my opinion, hence the “I’m convinced” phrase.

      Since humans seem to be the only animal that has the faculty of introspection, and seem to also have a well developed sense of right and wrong (as a group) I think our ability to analyze ourselves allows us to realize that those things that we deem good are better for us than those things that we deem evil, or bad, or negative. We derive pleasure from the good, and negative feelings from the bad, so on the whole, we strive to experience good, and avoid the bad. this can be translated into “we are inherently good.”

      At least, that’s my thought process in making that claim. It’s decidedly non-philosophical.

  16. would you say that the mayan civilization did much of this self analysis? how about hitler’s nazi berlin? or mao’s communist china? stalin, ho chi minh, kim jong-il?

    would you say that these groups and leaders of men fundamentally knew what they were doing was “evil” or did they truly think their actions “good”?

    • They may well have been just as convinced that their actions were good as the tyrant John Calvin, the anti-semite Martin Luther, the sadist Torquemada, the wanton Pope John XII, genocidal bastards Cortes, Alvarado and Pizarro, and today’s fun bunch of Christians working diligently to deny some of their fellow Americans equal rights.

      Your point?

  17. seeing as there is no good and evil in the animal kingdom(Jason)

    And you know this how? You should come meet one of my cat’s. She may convince you otherwise. 😉

      • My grand-doggy (my daughter’s blond lab) is very good.

        On the other hand, of my own two cats, the oldest has mellowed in his old age, but still has touches of evil. The youngest, however, is still evil felinified (I just made that word up, I think).

  18. Rules? We don’t need no steenking rules!

    The problem with a GUR (grand unified rule) like the GR is that it doesn’t apply in all situations and someone or some group will try to force the rule to apply universally.

    The closest I can come to a GUR runs something like: Think for yourself, assess each situation on its merits, act according to your best judgment, and accept responsibility for your actions. And don’t let the craphead religious moralists push you around. That includes the Pope, the Falwells, and the Warrens. And yes, craphead is redundant in that sentence.

  19. I’m convinced that humans are inherently good, that we want good done to ourselves, we want good to happen to us, we want a good life.
    Really? I see the animal of Man as being a bundle of conflicting urges, some good, some bad, some “us”, some “I”. The veneer of civilization is thin on the beast (as things like the Milgram experiments, and their children, show, our desire to conform to in-group norms and willingness to obey authority can quite easily lead to bad ends, facilitated by people who are sure they are doing the right thing. Remember that Sarajevo went from hosting the Winter Olympics to attempted genocide in a decade, among many, many other examples. It doesn’t take much to go from lending your neighbour your axe to chopping him up with it. Scratch even the most expensive suit and underneath is the long and bumpy road of our evolutionary past). For most of our past our world was much, much smaller. Tribal, in other words.
    In short, we’re a mess that generally averages out on the better side than the badder one. Unfortunately, it’s far easier to destroy than create, so it takes a lot of good to overcome a little bad. I’m neither optimist nor pessimist. I’m more of a realist. What is isn’t just wine and roses, nor is it blood and tears. It’s both.

    Spanish Inquisitor “There are probably legitimate panhandlers out there, but it’s well nigh impossible to discern the real, needy ones from the fakes.”
    I always give them whatever change I’ve got on. Generally, it’s not much, but I figure that at worst I’ve lost $3.17 (a fiver less the coffee that enchangified it), which even in the short run harms me so little as to be less than a scratch, but at best I’ve helped someone, which is worth far more than the few dollars it cost me. I don’t know if you’ve ever been really, really broke, but three bucks is better than no bucks.
    Once, I got asked for change as I left the 7-11 on the way to work. Lacking any change I handed the guy the sandwich I’d just bought for lunch. The look in his eyes alone was worth it. It wasn’t until lunchtime, when I went to open my lunch and found only air, that I felt a twinge of regret.

  20. I figure that at worst I’ve lost $3.17 (a fiver less the coffee that enchangified it), which even in the short run harms me so little as to be less than a scratch, but at best I’ve helped someone, which is worth far more than the few dollars it cost me. I don’t know if you’ve ever been really, really broke, but three bucks is better than no bucks. Once, I got asked for change as I left the 7-11 on the way to work. Lacking any change I handed the guy the sandwich I’d just bought for lunch. The look in his eyes alone was worth it. It wasn’t until lunchtime, when I went to open my lunch and found only air, that I felt a twinge of regret.

    That’s what’s up.

  21. Pingback: Humanist Symposium 47 « This humanist

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