[extropy-chat] Re: In defense of moral relativism

David Lubkin extropy at unreasonable.com
Wed May 4 04:54:32 UTC 2005

Jeff Medina wrote:

>So not only are you ignorant of moral philosophy, you're ignorant of
>pagan and other pre-Christian religions as well. That bit about "Do
>unto others"? Think that originated in Christianity or even Old
>Testament Judaism and then spread out to other religious and secular
>mindsets? Wrong, John.
>The very first record appears to be in Ancient Egypt, somewhere
>between 1970 and 1640 BCE:
  [ Quotations from various religious sources omitted. ]

There are four similarly sounding principles, two of which you cite but 
fail to distinguish.

The Christian formulation (Do Unto Others) is a busybody license. It's the 
traditional liberal and conservative rationale for imposing your standards 
on everyone around you, with or without their consent.

Versus the more libertarian variant seen in your Buddhist and Hindi quotes, 
and famously in the story about Hillel, in which he summed up Judaism as 
"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man: that is the whole Law; 
all the rest is interpretation."

The emphasis here is on *restraint from action*.

The major shortcoming of both of these, however, is that they are focused 
on what *you* would want or not want, instead of what the other being would 
want or not want. In other words,

(3) Do unto others that which they would want done.
(4) What is hateful to your fellow sentient, do not do to him.

-- David Lubkin.

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