Ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf
In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. One day spent well and in accordance with thy precepts is worth an immortality of sin.

In the various enumerations[8] of the moral virtues I had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name.

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

Temperance, for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking, while by others it was extended to mean the moderating of every other pleasure, appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our avarice[9] and ambition. I propos'd to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex'd[10] to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr'd to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept,[11] which fully express'd the extent I gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were.

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

My intention ben franklin autobiography to acquire the Habitude of all these virtues, I judg'd it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro' the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition[19] of some might facilitate[20] the acquisition of certain others, I arrang'd them with that view, as they stand above. Temperance first, as it tends to procure[21] that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance[22] was to be kept up, and guard maintained against the unremitting[23] attraction of ancient habits, and the force of perpetual[24] temptations.

This being acquir'd and establish'd, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being to gain knowledge at the same time that I improv'd in excerpt pdf, and considering that in conversation it was obtain'd rather by the use of the ears than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break a habit I was getting into of prattling,[25] punning, and joking, which only made me acceptable to trifling company, I gave Silence the second place.

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

This and the next, Order, I expected would allow me more time for attending to my project and my studies. Resolution, once become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavors to obtain all the subsequent virtues; Frugality and Industry freeing me from my remaining debt, and producing affluence[26] and independence, would make more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, etc.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - FULL AudioBook

Conceiving then, that, agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras in his Golden Verses,[27] daily examination would be necessary, I contrived the following method for conducting that examination. I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues.

I rul'd each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me. And to this habit after my ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf of integrity I think it principally owing that I had early so much weight with my fellow-citizens when I proposed new institutions, or alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils when I became a member; for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my points.

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride.

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as pdf pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility. I have, however, found the following. Most of these are ben franklin autobiography excerpt but I find one purporting to be the substance of an intended creed, containing, as I thought, the essentials of every known religion, and being free of everything that might shock the professors of any religion.

The Golden Verses here ascribed to him are probably of later origin.

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin

O searcher out of virtue and exterminator of vice! One day spent well and in accordance with thy precepts is worth an immortality of sin.

Woodrow Wilson well puts it: What may have seemed to the eighteenth century a system of morals seems to us nothing more vital than a collection of the precepts of good sense and sound conduct.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

What redeems it from pettiness in this book is the scope of power and of usefulness to be seen in Franklin himself, who set these standards up in all seriousness and candor for his own life. Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection. O teach me what is good; teach me Thyself!

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

Save me from folly, vanity, and vice, From every low pursuit; and fill my soul With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure; Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!

Rise, wash, and address Powerfull Goodness!

Excerpt from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

He later learned that "there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue" as pride; he even wondered, had he conquered pride, whether he wouldn't have been proud of his humility. But he carefully simulated the appearance of humility, if not the reality of it.

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

And though he never attained perfection, he still felt better and happier from having attempted it. He felt, in fact, that all his past blessings of health, prosperity, reputation and popularity were due to these efforts. Franklin's plan to attain perfection astonishes the modern reader for many reasons, among them the assumptions on which such a plan was based. For our author assumed not only that man is perfectible but also that the perfecting can be completed fairly quickly. Franklin assumed that man is reasonable, that through his reason he can control himself, and that he can resolve, at a given moment, to unlearn "bad habits" of thought and action and substitute good ones.

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

He also assumed that what one should do in any given situation, the kind of action "good habits" would dictate, autobiography excerpt pdf be easy to identify.

Franklin's view of man lacks the complexity one acknowledges in a post-Freudian world. But if he appears at points in-tolerably optimistic about human nature, he also acknowledges his failure to attain perfection with a modern, ironic sense of humor that still makes him likable.

Having seen that perfection would never be his, he decided that such a condition "might be a Kind of Foppery in Morals, ben franklin if it were known would make me ridiculous; that a perfect Character might be attended with the Inconvenience of being envied and hated; and that a benevolent Man should allow a few Faults in himself, to keep his Friends in Countenance.

Franklin always assumed that virtue was worth pursuing because of its practical benefits, not because of some abstract worth.

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

Order, resolution, and industry, for example, he felt would lead to affluence and independence. And once these last two qualities were achieved, sincerity and justice would be easier to afford. His approach to specific virtues was therefore a practical one. In learning silence, he allowed himself to speak what would benefit him, and in learning frugality, to incur expense that would do him good.

It is not surprising, when the spirit behind this list is understood, that the original group of twelve virtues includes both temperance and moderation.

ben franklin autobiography excerpt pdf

For Franklin obviously believed that even one's virtues should be cultivated within moderate bounds, in order to foster happiness, and never as ends in themselves. His questionable worldview put aside, Franklin's list impresses on a purely literary level. His explanatory maxims are models of well-turned phrases: If the list suggests why Franklin is no longer consulted as a philosopher, it also illustrates why he is still admired as a prose stylist.