How do novels, plays, or works of music exist? Consider the Iliad. The original copy of the Iliad was lost long, long ago, yet the Iliad continues to exist through its copies. If all original-language versions of the Iliad were to disappear, leaving only translations, one would assume the Iliad would continue to exist. What if all copies of the Iliad in any language and in any material form were destroyed, and we were left with nothing but the memory of the Iliad? Would it then cease to exist, until someone (presumably with photographic memory) decided to write it down again? What if all memory and knowledge of the Iliad were erased, but copies still existed, lying around in old boxes where nobody remembered them? Would it still exist if this were the case? How can we conceptualize the existence of things, like an ancient epic poem, which exist in physical form yet are not dependent on these forms?(Ask Philosophers)
I have a feeling that a great work of literature like the Ramayana,the Hindu epic penned by Valmiki continues to exist ,not because it exists in a physical form but it has taken hold of the consciousness of people over centuries.The original epic in Sanskrit does exist but the work lives more in the shared conscious of the people.Not many would have read the original epic but everyone in the community lives the epic,so to say,in the way it has shaped the lives and thoughts of people over time. Ramayana is by any standards great literature,not always in the form it was originally conceived but by the way it has influenced life,dealing with universal truths that remain relevant to all times.
Literature is not merely self-contained fictionalized accounts of people written in a distinct style pleasing to the discerning reader.It is part of the consciousness of people,a living document that does not disappear over time but stays close to the minds and hearts of people, whatever be the state of the physical form in which it exists.
The Golden Rule, at least in its usual formulation, would seem to be problematic in cases of justice. If a judge were to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, then they would probably never sentence anybody. A teacher couldn’t fail a student who tried very hard because, presumably, that teacher (at least as a student) would have preferred a barely passing grade if they had tried very hard. (Ask Philosophers)
My own problem is on a different count : it is not the compulsion to do unto others what you would have them do to you but merely a sneaking suspicion about the process by which I arrive at the truth, the verification of it to rule out the possibility of a possible ineptitude or human limitation in deciding the guilt. For example I am not a murderer and cannot be one by my nature and there is no chance of others deciding my guilt on this count but if I do murder despite my essential nature,I would not expect others to show a lenient approach to me .Consequently ,according to the golden rule,I would not show any leniency towards others in my judgement of others who have committed murder. But my problem is how do I reasonably make sure that the process by which we have arrived at the conviction does not suffer from an infirmity and consequently if I award ,in my capacity as a judge the extreme form of punishment ,say death ,am I not doing to others what I will not like others to do unto me?
In the golden rule it is assumed that the guilt is established and only the punishment is to be awarded and the judge should put himself in the guilty one’s shoes while awarding the judgement-a sort of empathy. But what if the guilt is not conclusively established or the process followed does not automatically establish the truth and if we do not take into account this infirmity a serious miscarriage may ensue?
In staff disciplinary cases I have followed the practice of awarding a punishment that does not cause irreversible harm to the guilty but leaves room for him to appeal and have the decision reversed at a later date by calling into question the procedures followed in the determination of guilt.