28 November 2012
From forming a nation to a man on the moon, Americans have always believed in the possibility of progress. Progress can be measured in many ways—technological, financial, educational, social, and even spiritual. Just as Benjamin Franklin invented devices to improve the quality of life in America, he also tried to invent a moral “machine” to improve the quality of his own character. In his autobiography, “Ben Franklin’s Autobiography,” Benjamin Franklin illustrates the difficulties of achieving overall perfection by means of improving one’s morals and quality of life, in regard to his own character. Benjamin Franklin thought improving his character would simplify his life, making everything much easier. Therefore, he created a list of virtues that seemed necessary to him at that moment in time, in ordered to reach his goal. Each virtue was listed with the standards to clarify, “These names of virtues, with their precepts, were: 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.” Only four of the thirteen listed, it shows Franklin’s ideas on how he decides to achieve his perfect character. Without the successes of one virtue listed, Franklin cannot accomplish any others. “My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judged 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 through the thirteen.” Franklin’s expectations are very high; he is willing to work on one virtue at a time, perfecting it until it is perfect, and then...
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