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Benjamin Franklin's The Art of Virtue: His Formula for Successful Living Paperback – June 1, 1996
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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.
"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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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.
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:
Eat not to Dullness
Drink not to Elevation.
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.
Avoid trifling Conversation.
Let all your Things have their Places.
Let each Part of your Business have its Time.
Resolve to perform what you ought.
Perform without fail what you resolve.
Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself:
i.e. Waste nothing.
Lose no Time. Be always employ'd in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.
Use no hurtful Deceit.
Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.
Avoid Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes or Habitation.
11 . Tranquillity.
Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.
Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another's Peace or Reputation.
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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I have gained a respect and a method for acquiring virtues, from this book.