GEORGE ELIOT CHALLENGES THE GOLDEN RULE. Kathryn Schulz had an article in New York magazine about Rebecca Mead’s book MY LIFE IN MIDDLEMARCH. Both Schulz and Mead are writing about their personal experience of rereading MIDDLEMARCH. In the article, Schulz pointed out that MIDDLEMARCH raises questions about the Golden Rule. In a lifetime in which the Golden Rule has been part of my mental furniture, I had never taken note that the Golden Rule applies a variant of an objective test. Says Schulz: “It does not urge us to consult our neighbors about their needs; it asks us only to generalize from ourselves—–to imagine, in essence, that everyone’s idea of desirable treatment matches our own….To thrive in sustained intimacy requires learning to provide not what we think someone else wants, or should want, but what actually makes him or her happy.” Eliot’s is a subjective test. We are to attempt to determine and honor what the neighbor’s preferences are.

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