The Autobiography of Ben Franklin Assignment Help
Develop the topic into a well-organized essay, following the guidelines below. Correct spelling and grammar will be considered during grading. Part of your grade will depend upon the inclusion of the required block quotes. If you do not include the 3 required block quotes to support your position, your paper will lose one letter grade. Be sure to answer all parts of the question. Relying only on material from the The Autobiography of Ben Franklin, thoroughly answer the following questions:
Section 1: Describe how Benjamin Franklin established the public library in Philadelphia. What was the effect of this library on Ben Franklin and on his community?
Section 2 : Explain Franklin''s quest for moral perfection. What process did he use? How successful was he? Which virtues did he find the most challenging to maintain? What was meant by his saying, "a speckled ax is best?"
Section 3 : Was Franklin a religious man? Why, or why not? Provide specific evidence to support your conclusions.
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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
In 1973, Franklin along with the members of Junto, a philosophical organization, took upon the task of writing “Articles of Agreement,” and ultimately create a public library. At the time when Benjamin Franklin was alive, a majority of the American population was illiterate, and had little or no access to books. Thus, there was nothing that could help them with their reading skills, since there were no public libraries during the time. This was a major drawback even for the prosperous and influential individuals such as the people from Junto itself, as they could not afford the books they needed, despite being highly educated and learned. The situation was such that only the clergy members and the extremely wealthy had a respectable collection of books. Franklin also writes, “Reading was the only amusement I allow’d myself,” thereby indicating that he was largely inclined to reading books than wasting time in other frivolities. Thus, Franklin and the Junto members decided to combine their assets and made an initial investment of 40 shillings. It was decided that since together they could afford a lot of books, more than they would ever need for themselves, all the members would have access to the books. Furthermore, an annual investment of 10 shillings would be used for buying new books and maintaining the library.
As far as Franklin and the community were concerned, the library soon became an advantageous asset, as the members were able to read and gain more insight and knowledge about things that were earlier unknown to them. Furthermore, the library also acted as a source of employment, for not just Franklin but also for many other people.
Benjamin Franklin’s quest is expressed within the lines, “It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.” Franklin assumed that man as a living being had the capacity of attaining perfection, and could do so in a very short period of time. Furthermore, he believed that humans were reasonable and rational beings, which allowed them to be able to control themselves, and thus could make a resolution to unlearn those habits, which were deemed to be as bad or harmful. He also states that the actions one performs in any situation, are clearly indicative of whether they are being dictated by the good habits.
As far as the process is concerned, Benjamin Franklin determined thirteen virtues that were essentially necessary for attaining moral perfection, which can be stated as follows –
Temperance,to not eat or drink in excessive amounts
Silence, to avoid trifling conversations and speak only those things that would be beneficial to oneself and those around
Order,to allow everything to have its own time and place
Resolution, to perform, without fail, what one has resolved to do
Frugality,to not waste anything and incur minimal expenses
Industry,to waste no time and be always involved in something that is useful
Sincerity,to act in an innocent and justified manner, without any deceit
Justice, to not be unfair to anyone
Moderation, to avoid extremes
Cleanliness, to be clean in terms of body, clothing and residence
Tranquility, to be at peace and be unperturbed by trifling incidents that are common and unavoidable
Chastity, to use venery only for procreation and health
Humility, to imitate the humble life of Socrates and Jesus.
In order to attain moral perfection, Franklin maintained a book in which he allocated a different page for each of the virtues. These pages he divided into columns on the basis of the days of the week, and filled them in accordingly, based on which virtue he had committed on those days. He decided to strictly pay attention to each of the thirteen virtues in a successive manner, sometimes bringing in an intermission after these bouts of self-examination. This attempt to achieve moral perfection made him understand that he was a man who had a large number of faults, quite more than he had believed he would.
As far as his success in attaining moral perfection is concerned, anybody reading his autobiography would be clearly able to understand, that Franklin struggled with his own vanity. In fact, he even confessed that he could never successfully push aside his pride, although he did try to be humble as much as possible. The virtues that were most difficult for him to attain were thus humility and order.
By the phrase, “a speckled axe is best,” Benjamin Franklin hints at the idea that a benevolent man was entitled to allow himself to have a few faults. This was in lieu of the fact that he himself could not attain moral perfection, but was perfectly fine with that.
Benjamin Franklin starts out as a man who is quite skeptical about religion. In other words, the belief in God and going to church as part of an organized religion are two largely distinct things. Franklin states that being religious is about having faith in God, being honest and virtuous, and being indulgent in doing what is good. In fact, Franklin had come across Dunkers, Moravians and Quakers, but all of them had failed to make him subscribe to their faiths or customs, since he was more interested in communicating with God in his own way, without any intervention from another established system.
Th evidence lies in the lines, “I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day.” Here, Benjamin Franklin explicitly states that although he had been brought up as a Presbyterian, he did not really adhere to their rules of organized church meetings or prayers, and thus preferred to reach out and seek God’s assistance in his own way. He did not once doubt the existence of the omnipotent being, but was more comfortable leading his life in the way he wanted to.
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