All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them. — Matthew, 7.12
Treat others as you would like to be treated by them. The “Golden Rule”, as it’s known, is one of the simplest and most influential of all ethical principles. In this article, we’ll begin by looking at what it is before exploring some examples found in the writings of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and other Stoic philosophers.
The Golden Rule is a remarkably simple guide to ethical behaviour, which anyone can understand and try to follow. It’s found in both positive and negative forms:
- Do what you would praise others for doing
- Avoid doing what you would criticize others for doing
Indeed many people today take it for granted that applying a different standard to other’s actions than we do to our own would be a form of moral hypocrisy.
I explored the ways Stoicism can be used as a guide to modern life in my recent book, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, but this article will focus on a very simple principle that Stoics used as a guide to ethical action. People often say they find Stoic ethics confusing and want a very clear and simple example of practical advice, well here it is…