Hillel and Negative Golden Rule

Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: “Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.”

– from Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Quote/hillel.html

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Negative Golden Rule, Consumer Economics and Evolutionary Biology — All Missing the Point:

The Negative Golden Rule is a Threshold:  it is a lower limit on what you can get away with, what is acceptable as an exchange transaction; what will satisfy your base instinct for self preservation.

The New Testament and Islamic Golden Rule are Aspirational; they challenge each person to rise above his evolutionary state and recognize that man is capable of behaving in ways that are superior to even the highest animal responses (incidentally, some animals are capable of acting in ways that are contrary to instinct for self-preservation).

The essential message of Jesus is NOT to exalt one’s self-interest but to ‘turn the other cheek;’ ‘lay down his life for his friend/neighbor.’


Here’s an explanation of Negative Golden Rule from a philosophical perspective (or, an attempt to valorize NGR by running it through a philosophy machine). http://www.philosophicalinvestigations.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=470:extract-the-negative-golden-rule&catid=66:an-introduction-to-ethics&Itemid=54

“New Morality and the Superiority of the Negative Golden Rule”

 “do not do the sort of harm to others you don’t want done to you”. 

Three billion years of evolution have imbued all life on earth with one basic motivation: All living organisms, including all human beings, always act in what they consider to be in their best self-interest. This unalterable motivation is the source for all other emotions of all living organisms. This motive is also the precursor of the Negative Golden Rule, which first appears in the writings of the nascent periods of major religions and civilizations.

The Biblical Golden Rule states: “Do unto others what you want done to yourself” The Negative Golden Rule states: “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”. This nugget of wisdom goes back thousands of years. It appears in old Judaic teachings as well as in the ancient Tibetan Buddhist aphorism: “Let all hear this moral maxim and having heard it, keep it well: Whatever is not pleasing to yourself, do not that into others”.

The actual Golden Rule, as embedded in the New Testament of the Bible, is adverse to human emotional and evolutionary motivation. Unfortunately, St. Matthew was not familiar with human nature when he said in (7-12) “Therefor all things whatsoever ye would that men do to you, do ye even so to them. For this is the law and the prophets”.

Immanuel Kant, too, knew little about human nature when he torturously invented his Categorical Imperative. Since this long-winded moral exhortation is nothing but a convoluted version of the Golden Rule, it is just as ineffective as the Golden Rule. Most people are not even aware of this Kantian moral imperative and nobody pays any attention to it. This type of philosophizing exposes Kant as just another one of the many philosophers who lacked a basic understanding of human nature and reality.

The same psychological principles that apply to the moral code of a society, also apply to individual members of a society who merely wish to enhance their coexistence with other members of their family or society. All human beings have an infinite number of wants, needs and desires. It is impossible to know and understand all of the wants and likes of another person.

Therefore, it is impossible and presumptive for a person to decide what may be desirable for another person, merely as a projection of his own desires. A projection of our own likes would rely on the unrealistic assumption that others have the same needs and desires as we do. We know from everyday observations that other people do not have the same likes as we do and, since we can merely surmise what others may like, we will almost certainly create dismay more often than happiness.

Even persons, who may have indicated a particular preference, may actually have entirely different wants. My friend may have heard me say that I like red sweaters and he then may have stated that he likes red sweaters, too. However, his statement does not mean he will rejoice if I make him a gift of a red sweater in order to make him happy. Although he may like red sweaters, he may actually very much prefer to wear blue sweaters. Instead of offending me by refusing the red sweater, which he will never wear, he is now wondering what equally unwanted gift he can bestow on me to reciprocate my favor, to make me happy, and to eliminate the undesired obligation created by my gift.

The broad applicability of the Negative Golden Rule explains the well-reasoned attitude some persons have towards gifts. Some people do not give gifts for any reason. To the great consternation of some well-meaning givers of gifts, they also refuse to accept gifts. These people enjoy lives that are uncluttered by undesired gifts and obligations.

If a person in this category does not own a particular item, he does not possess it because he does not want it. If he had wanted a specific item, he would have bought it a long time ago. If he had bought the item himself, he would have bought the particular product he desired, instead of an item that another person thought he might like.

Well-intentioned people who try to make themselves happy by erroneously following the Golden Rule, are the givers of most gifts. Therefore, most gifts end up in attics, at garage sales, or people simply discard them – with the exception of money.

Money is more versatile than other gifts. Alas, money is rarely the medium of gifts because money provides relatively little satisfaction to the person giving the money: It does not have the personal touch, for which a giver would like to be remembered.

Why does the Negative Golden Rule function so exquisitely when the Golden Rule is completely counter-productive? Human beings have an almost infinite variety of Likes and Wants. Since human resources are limited, we have to set priorities for our Likes. One person may deem an object desirable but another person may hate the same article. Some people like banana bread others detest the stuff. Some people chase after sex; others would rather read a good book. Our likes and wants are infinite but our dislikes are very limited.

Opposed to the myriad of Wants that differ dramatically from person to person, there are basic Dislikes that apply uniformly to all human beings. Absolutely nobody likes to be killed or injured, nobody likes to be enslaved and nobody likes to have his property stolen. These universal dislikes are the reason for the superior moral applicability of the Negative Golden Rule: “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”

The Negative Golden Rule can thus serve as the basic framework for a personal morality system. A moral code based on the Negative Golden Rule relies on the innate emotional and rational nature of human beings.

The promulgation of moral codes has always been a major perquisite of nascent religions. All religions embrace a dogma, a set of moral rules, specific to their particular religion. It is noteworthy that most religions have found that the Golden Rule does not work. Instead, they base their moral code on the highly effective Negative Golden Rule:

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (Udana-Varga 5:18)

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)

Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. (Mahabharata 5:1517)

Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving kindness: Do not unto others what you would not have them do to you. (Analects 15:23)

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

Only Christianity and Islam include the Positive Golden Rule in their morality system, although the Golden Rule is inherently counterproductive to human morality and happiness.

The Christian faith actually uses two complimentary rules: The ineffective Biblical Golden Rule which proclaims: “All things whatsoever ye would that man should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt 7:12). However, most of the Ten Commandments are framed in negatives, as all moral codes must be in order to be effective.

Islam: No one is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. (Sunnah) This moral code is also a version of the positive Golden Rule. It is very ineffective and ambiguous. Muslims, being normal human beings, follow it very selectively. This code relies on the unrealistic assumption that your brother has precisely the same needs and wants as you do.

If we wish to live in harmony with others and never give rise to a conflict with others, we must convert the Golden Rule to the Negative Golden Rule. Only the Negative Golden Rule is in alignment with innate human survival instincts: Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.

A moral code based on the principle of the Negative Golden Rule is very short and eliminates the uninvited imposition of our own desires on others. Only the Negative Golden Rule can demonstrate the principle of peaceful coexistence among men. The Positive Golden Rule is an invitation to meddle in the affairs of other persons, guided by our own preferences.

If we are determined to make somebody happy by providing gifts, why not give such gifts to ourselves and make ourselves happy? Nobody else in the whole world knows better than we do, precisely, what it is that we enjoy. If every person does what brings him happiness, instead of engaging in the speculative attempt to make other persons happy, it follows logically that all people will be happy.

The whole world would be brimming with happy persons, if only people would stop trying to make other people happy. It is much easier and much more rewarding to focus all of our efforts and resources on making ourselves happy.

It is sometimes difficult to gain insights into our own needs and to make ourselves happy by acting upon our needs. Most people find it easier and more convenient to try to find happiness in their futile attempt to make other people happy, regardless of the true preferences of those other people.

The moral stance of most religions further aggravates this situation. Religious organizations benefit from encouraging the indiscriminate giving of gifts. Religions proclaim, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Churches are frequently the beneficiaries of guilt-ridden adherents. These persons try to find happiness not only in their current life. By giving to their church, they try to open the door to a happier life after their death. They believe that their Church holds the key to this door. The morality of the Golden Rule has rewarded churches with immense wealth.

Feuerbach wrote in The Significance of the Creation in Judaismthat

THE doctrine of the Creation sprang out of Judaism; indeed, it is the characteristic, the fundamental doctrine of the Jewish religion. The principle which lies at its foundation is, however, not so much the principle of subjectivity as of egoism. The doctrine of the Creation in its characteristic significance arises only on that stand-point where man in practice makes Nature merely the servant of his will and needs, and hence in thought also degrades it to a mere machine, a product of the will. Now its existence is intelligible to him, since he explains and interprets it out of himself, in accordance with his own feelings and notions. The question, Whence is Nature or the world? presupposes wonder that it exists, or the question, Why does it exist? But this wonder, this question, arises only where man has separated himself from Nature and made it a mere object of will. The author of the Book of Wisdom says truly of the heathens, that, “for admiration of the beauty of the world they did not raise themselves to the idea of the Creator.” To him who feels that Nature is lovely, it appears an end in itself, it has the around of its existence in itself in him the question, Why does it exist? does not arise. Nature and God are identified in his consciousness, his perception, of the world. Nature, as it impresses his senses, has indeed had an origin, has been produced, but not created in the religious sense, is not an arbitrary product. And by this origin he implies nothing evil; originating involves for him nothing impure, un-divine; he conceives his gods themselves as having had an origin. The generative force is to him the primal force: he posits, therefore, as the ground of Nature, a force of Nature, – a real, present, visibly active force, as the ground of reality. Thus does man think where his relation to the world is “thetic or theoretic (for the theoretic view was originally the aesthetic view, the prima philosophia), where the idea of the world is to him the idea of the cosmos. of majesty, of deity itself. Only where such a theory was the fundamental principle could there be conceived and expressed such a thought as that of Anaxagoras: – Man is born to behold the world. [In Diogenes (L. 1. ii. c. iii. § 6), it is literally, “for the contemplation of the sun, the moon and the heavens.” Similar ideas were held by other philosophers. Thus the Stoics also said: – “Ipse autem homo ortus est ad mundum contemplandum et imitandum.” – Cic. (de Nat.).]

The standpoint of theory is the standpoint of harmony with the world. The subjective activity, that in which man contents himself, allows himself free play, is here the sensuous imagination alone. Satisfied with this, he lets Nature subsist in peace, and constructs his castles in the air, his poetical cosmogonies, only out of natural materials. When, on the contrary, man places himself only on the practical standpoint and looks at the world from thence, making the practical standpoint the theoretical one also, he is in disunion with Nature; he makes Nature the abject vassal of his selfish interest, of his practical egoism. The theoretic expression of this egoistical, practical view, according to which Nature is in itself nothing,, is this: Nature or the world is made, created, the product of a command.”

Man, from the perspective of the Judaic creation myths, is the center of all being.

Voth teaches that most other creation myths are not homo-centric.

The medieval Catholic church — before printing introduced bible idolatry — touched the divine through soaring cathedrals and learned of God and the heavens through works of human artistry and creativity in glass and stone, paint and marble.  Victor Hugo’s novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” was set in the 15th century and was a plea to value and preserve the magnificence of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.  The protagonist of Hugo’s work was the Cathedral, not the Hunchback.

It is instructive that two movies titled “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” produced by Walt Disney studios, are mawkish song-and-dance routines focusing on the exterior ugliness of the Hunchback counterpoised against the spoken/sung/acted counsel that “you have self-esteem.”  You are capable of being loved even tho you are ugly on the outside.  The Hunchback — that is, the human person — is the center of the universe, and his task is to try to overlook his physical ugliness and convince himself that someone else will love him in spite of his ugliness.  What a dreadful way to raise children, and what a bastardization of Hugo’s novel.

This is the kind of propaganda Americans have been raised on since Jews took control of Hollywood and of the U.S. public education system.  This is propaganda.

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