Customer Reviews: Benjamin Franklin's The Art of Virtue: His Formula for Successful Living
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on April 2, 2000
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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on April 29, 1999
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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VINE VOICEon October 17, 2000
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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on March 28, 2006
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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on April 6, 1999
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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on May 26, 2013
I wish I would have paid more attention to another review here (from D. Gamble) that emphasized that this really is not unadulterated Franklin. I think it's misleading to list Benjamin Franklin as the author (as Amazon does). Certainly listing him as the author couldn't hurt sales. I wonder what Franklin would think about authorship of this book being ascribed to him.

The editor, George L. Rogers, interjects himself and his own ideas far more than most editors would venture to do, and in so doing becomes more the author than the editor (I'd guess a good half of the text in the book is from Rogers rather than Franklin). Interspersed throughout the book are "Franklin's formulas for successful living" written by Rogers (inexplicably in verse form) that I suppose are meant to summarize particular aspects of Franklin's philosophy. These always seem to ramble listlessly and bear no resemblance to what I would understand as a formula, i.e. a terse representation of the essence of an idea.

While there is a decent amount of raw source material from Franklin's writings, Rogers isn't content to let Franklin take the helm. The result is that the book has the feel of something from the self-help section, supplemented with Franklin's writings or life history. This isn't necessarily bad in and of itself, but still disappointing if you're expecting to get a book *by* Benjamin Franklin, as it claims to be.
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VINE VOICEon May 3, 2010
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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on January 23, 2007
Great book on Benjamin Franklin's life. This book will make you a better person. Read it and digest it.
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on March 2, 2014
Franklin shares his philosophy, formula for success which is full of insights, humor, goal setting, personal achievements, human relations, morality and much more.

His story begins, "It was about this time that I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time... I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined..."

He names his virtues and their precepts:

1. Temperance.
Eat not to Dullness
Drink not to Elevation.

2. Silence.
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.
Avoid trifling Conversation.

3. Order.
Let all your Things have their Places.
Let each Part of your Business have its Time.

4. Resolution.
Resolve to perform what you ought.
Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality.
Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself:
i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry.
Lose no Time. Be always employ'd in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.

7. Sincerity.
Use no hurtful Deceit.
Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice.
Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.

9. Moderation.
Avoid Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness.
Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes or Habitation.

11 . Tranquillity.
Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity.
Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another's Peace or Reputation.

13. Humility.
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

One of our founding father's set the above as his precepts and goals. Any wonder why Benjamin Franklin is a leader for our children to emulate today?
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on January 18, 2013
I like to pick historical figures that I admire to use more or less as mentors. I figure if I admire what they did with their lives, their example or recipe for living may help me to grow toward the vision I have for myself.
It's amazing how much you can tell that Dale Carnegie, M. Scott Peck, Stephen Covey etcetera had been influenced by the ideas and practiced Ben Franklin had practiced. All around good universal truism and practical guides for successful living.
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