JESUS CHRIST (6/4 BCE – 30/33 AD)
It’s a challenge to find the best rule,
One that, ethically speaking, is cool.
For the Christian it’s stressed
That the Golden one’s best,
Though to sadists the Christian’s a fool.
Note: More irreverence. The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) has a long and distinguished history. The rule says: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” For generations this rule has been the compass by which Christians have been told to steer. But it has some potential drawbacks. If I am a masochist and would have others cause me pain (because I enjoy it), then the Golden Rule tells me (that it is permissible) to cause pain to others. Sadists will chuckle at this, because it turns out that their activities appear to have Jesus’s blessing. Immanuel Kant (see below) criticizes the Golden Rule in his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals because, contrary to Jesus’s own design, it turns out to justify the refusal of selfish persons to help others in need, as long as those selfish persons would not themselves wish to be helped. Kant’s own Categorical Imperative (“Act according to that maxim that you can will to be a universal law”) clearly resembles the Golden Rule in its appeal to some form of universalization. But I imagine that Kant might have said that if it was God who spoke to Jesus, then something of importance was lost in translation.