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Benjamin Franklin's The Art of Virtue: His Formula for Successful Living Paperback – June 1, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Franklin conceived of this book at the age of 26 but never actually got around to writing it. In 1986, editor George Rogers completed the task by gleaning Franklin's thoughts on the subject from his various writings. We could all use a little virtue these days, so libraries would do well to stock this volume.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Perhaps more than any other 18th century notable, Franklin grappled with the 'codes of behavior' as they applied to the individual's place in the universe--how one might reach his or her potential for a meaningful existence in a world of uncertainty...I highly recommend the Art of Virtue to anyone concerned with self-improvement, or simply curious about what made Franklin tick." -- Roy E. Goodman, Curator, American Philosophical Society<br /><br />In 1732, at the age of 26, Benjamin Franklin conceived the idea of writing a guide for living that he named "The Art of Virtue". Although he nurtured this idea of a book for the next fifty years, Franklin never completed the work before he died. 250 years later, George Rogers discovered a set of Franklin's writings in an old mansion in Tarrytown, New York. Inspired by what Franklin had to say, and believing his ideas to be of general benefit to all people, Rogers researched and organized Franklin's writings into the book Franklin had intended to write. The rather impressive result is Benjamin Franklin's The Art Of Virtue. This compendium of the famous wit and wisdom of Ben Franklin is as apt today as it was in the colonial era of our nation's founding. Benjamin Franklin's The Art Of Virtue is appropriate reading (and study) for all ages, in all conditions and walks of life. Benjamin Franklin's The Art Of Virtue is a yet another of Benjamin Franklin's many treasured legacies to the American people. --Midwest Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Acorn Publishing; 3 edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0938399101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938399100
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Full of timeless wisdom.
_scm_1
I'll be honest when I tell you I enjoy a good read but this book took me about one year to read from beginning to end.
Edward Yang
Great book on Benjamin Franklin's life.
L. Jerez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Edward Yang on April 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I saw this book one day when I was browsing Franklin Covey planners in the mall. It had been awhile since I read something not business related so I thought I'd give this a shot. I'll be honest when I tell you I enjoy a good read but this book took me about one year to read from beginning to end. The first few chapters weren't too bad but then it got into a section about a debate between two philosophers on the definition of virtue and why one should practice a virtuous life. I've never read anything that mentally straining in my life (my degree is in Mechanical Engineering BTW). I enjoy the arts but that one section took me about a month before I could fully digest what the philosophers were saying in the span of less than 2 pages. This one section proved so enlightening that my head hurt for about 2 days after I had a chance to chew on the content. If you had any doubts that the founding forefathers of this great nation were anything but geniuses, this should dispell any and all myths. I must say that I even had to break out the dictionary for some of the diction used in this book in that it was definitely not your everyday conversational english. If you enjoy mental challenges of a higher level and your mastery of the English language is proficient enough to understand the fine nuances of sentence structure and double, sometimes triple meanings, I would recommend this book. If you're looking for something a little more entertaining and easier on the mind, then definitely look somewhere else. But I will admit, when I did finally complete this book one year later, I actually felt a major sense of accomplishment. I guess that makes me just a little more virtuous?
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you ever doubted the basis upon which our great country is built, read the ideals of one of its creators. Benjamin Franklin demonstrates that his contribution to the creation of the United States was purposeful. I am now jealous of the resource that Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Washington, et. al. had when he added to their discourse. The Art of Virtue organizes and describes Franklin's perception of a virtuous life, defines happiness by his own values, and shows how every person has the power to pursue a virtuous life to become a happy person. Those famous inalienable rights which Jefferson quoted in the Declaration of Independence come alive with Franklin's wit and wisdom. It is not often I acknowledge a wise man, but Franklin was no doubt an oracle in the field of character. Most impressively, this wisdom is just as applicable today as it was 200 or 2000 years ago.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Karina A. Suarez VINE VOICE on October 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
A book like this should be mandatory reading for everyone. Particularly people who represent other people's interests for a living, such as World Leaders, Presidents, Kings, etc., would find it absolutely useful; a kind of constant tool, a compass that keeps them on the right track once and again. This is a book that shows not only Franklin's wit and wisdom, but also his vulnerability, that wonderful human quality, thus making it enchanting and insightful. Buy this book, learn and practice these principles, and enjoy the new breath of fresh air you'll experience in your life.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By ae on March 28, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When you look at the cover and the preface, the book may appear to be written by Benjamin Franklin, but that is somewhat misleading. Sure, the essence of the book comes from the writings of B.F., but the editor of the book has also done a great job of putting a collection of writings by Franklin into an excellent structure.

Twelve virtues are identified answering key questions about the source of happiness, how to attain it, and many other important aspects of life. Each virtue is supported by B.F.'s writings. I especially liked the summaries at the end of each chapter that would emphasize the essential points of the corresponding virtue.

This is a very accessible book, and a great companion for anyone who thinks life should be more than pursuing selfish goals and satisfying petty pleasures.

Perhaps, this work is more useful in understanding B.F.'s wisdom than his autobiography, which is another great classic.

I was slightly confused as to why the book was presented to be merely a book by B.F., given that the editor has contributed quite a bit in terms of organization and explanations. Perhaps to improve the sales?

In any event, this is a great work that, I bet, will improve the perspective of anyone who reads it actively.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am actually in the process of reading this book right now, and I love it. The things that Rogers decided to include in this book about the life and wisdom of Benjamin Franklin has definately given me new insights into who he was, but more importantly, insights into specific ways how I can better my own life. In an instant I would strongly recomend to people to not just read it, but find ways to apply the things they learn in thier lives. It's just good, what else can I say?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By TW VINE VOICE on May 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Art of Virtue covers Franklin's twelve principles for living a virtuous, happy and productive life. Franklin never complied these into a book himself, thus George Rogers pieced this together from several of Franklin's written pieces, segments from his Almanacs, and other various sources including letters to friends. Rogers' commentary is complete with analysis and summations that result in an exceptionally well flowing masterpiece.

Franklin observed that people tend to let their values be dictated by the tide of popular opinion; an ominous notion given that the choices we make that govern our lives are generally in the context of our value system. Franklin asserts choosing values is among the most important choices we make as human beings; thus the greatest of all ambitions is to develop strong character. All his guidance is based on the principle that the one thing all humans have in common in a desire to be happy, and therefore being of strong character and living a virtuous life is the most logical path to true happiness.

Franklin's ideals are strong on morals, yet are also powerfully pragmatic. He does not suggest merely living an altruistic life, but to live by a set of guiding principles that lead to productivity built upon strong character. Said best by Franklin, "To be happy it is necessary to learn how to govern one's passions and appetites, to be just in one's dealings with others, to be temperate in one's pleasures, to support oneself with fortitude in difficulties, and to be prudent in one's affairs."

An added benefit, George Rogers offers such a fine overview of Franklin's thoughts that Rogers nearly maintains the grandeur of Franklin himself. If more work was available from Rogers I would jump at the chance to find a copy. This book is an outstanding success and one I readily recommend to those who value practical philosophy.
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