What you wish done to yourself, do to others.
In the excerpt “Fool’s Gold” from Professor Appiah’s book Cosmopolitanism, he argues that the “Golden Rule” of doing to others what you wish done to yourself is not as helpful as it might seem at first. He argues that although it may seem to be universally accepted and although variations of this rule can be found in Confucius’ Analects, the Mahabharata, and the Bible, when it comes down to it, is it really that easy to simply follow the rule and to do to others what you would wish done to yourself for every situation? He argues that it is not that simple and gives the example of saving someone’s life with the blood transfusion. Does the rule mean you do to others as you would wish someone would do to you with the beliefs and values you possess or does it mean you do to others what you would wish someone would do to you if you possessed the beliefs and values of the other person?
Professor Appiah’s argument is convincing. By providing the example of the blood transfusion patient, he upholds his argument and makes it sound. At first, it surprised me when he says, “So, when I think about what I should do unto others, is what matters whether I’d like it done to me with my actual values and beliefs, or is what matters whether I’d like it done to me if I had their values and beliefs? Unfortunately, I think the answer is: neither.” How could the answer be neither? But then with another example with a racist blood transfusion patient, he is able to convince me of this.
I’ve come to believe that, as Professor Appiah says, the “Golden Rule” is not so universally clear and simple. I don’t think we all apply the rule in the same way in every situation. What the rule pushes us to do is to think about the people we deal with on a day-to-day basis? What are their beliefs and values and how do they differ from my own? How do they feel in this particular situation? How are my actions affecting them?
Say, for example, that I want to approach someone I don’t know but I want to meet. If I am to apply the “Golden Rule,” I must take into consideration several factors. I cannot do to them as I would like done to me if I had their values and beliefs because I do not yet know what those values and beliefs are. So should I do to them as I would like done to me, with the beliefs and values I currently hold? It seems that that is the only option. But clearly, if I want to befriend this person, I am the kind of person who likes to meet new people. Therefore, I would like to be approached, and so I must approach this person. But how is this truly following the Golden Rule? It seems to have just come back to me. I’m not considering the other person at all. It seems like I can’t, since I don’t know them. I don’t think the Golden Rule is applicable in this situation, which supports Professor Appiah’s argument that the rule is not that simple.
This class is intriguing. I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m excited to find out! I’m especially excited to explore other cultures and learn more about the various technologies we’ll be using. It’s a little overwhelming, but I think we’ll all get the hang of it eventually!
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