Friday, December 2, 2011
Selling the Golden Rule as a Paradox
You begin reading an article. It begins detailing what would happen if you were reading it. Instead of detailing content that you'd be interested to know about, it tells you things that are occurring in the present, and that you already know. You continue reading, only to discover that it is still recording your actions as you follow it across the page. You wonder to yourself whether the blog post is ever going to actually progress to the topic that it presented in its title. Yes.
Of course this is a completely hypothetical situation. If that were to happen, you would have encountered a paradox. An article that details your actions as you follow its actions. The post is only true if you are reading it, but if you are not reading it, it has no purpose. A paradox is a statement or phrase that seems true, but defies logic when certain situations are applied to it. For example, the phrase 'If this sentence is false, then the sky is gold.' The sky is not gold, which means the sentence is false. However, if the sentence is false, it claims that the sky is gold, which it is not. This is a paradox. And now I'm going to attempt to sell you the Golden Rule as a paradox. Because it is.
The Golden Rule, or 'do for others as you'd like them to do for you.' From your perspective as an individual person the rule of gold makes sense. You're going to strive to do things for me that you'd like me to do for you. For example, if you wanted me to sell you gold, the metal, you would offer to sell me gold first. However, the Golden Rule assumes that you want others to follow the Golden Rule. If you didn't want others to follow the Golden Rule, you would not follow the Golden Rule yourself. So, if you direct the Golden Rule at me as was spelled out before, you want me to direct the Golden Rule back at you. Lets say that I want you to sell me silver. But, if my want is for you to follow the Golden Rule then I must do that. So I want you to do what you want me to do, -- you following me? -- meaning that I must do that for you. I must do what you want me to do for you. I must sell you gold instead of sell you silver like I wanted. But this is not the Golden Rule anymore. I am doing what you want, and you are doing what you want. By using the Golden Rule, I have achieved a state that does not apply to the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule only works if both people want the same thing.
In conclusion, if everyone in the world just wanted to sell gold, then the Golden Rule would work. This solves a number of problems. You are now either very confused or you want to kill the author and I don’t blame you. He’s a jerk.