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Reading through his life story, one can certainly tell that Benjamin Franklin accomplished so much during his lifetime than what most people of his time would have dreamt of. Benjamin Franklin is said to have created the very first public library in America. In addition to that, Franklin also invented countless items like the lightning rod, bifocals, and wooden stoves (Franklin & Goodman, 2000). Benjamin Franklin also played a crucial role in the American politics when he signed both the U.S Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. With all these accomplishments, it becomes even more amazing considering the fact that Franklin had only two years of formal education.
Having read through the excerpt, Benjamin Franklin highly valued learning and believed in the powers of reading. Through a constant studying of books at the library, Benjamin Franklin believed that he was provided a means for improvement. Franklin hoped that other people particularly so the younger generations would follow suit and get educated. Franklin understood that time set aside for learning was quite short and for that reason, he focused on learning the most useful things and did not waste his time on any kind of frolics. Reading became the only thing that Benjamin Franklin allowed to amuse him. It was through the love that Franklin had for learning that he proposed the construction of a grammar school whose primary focus would be learning the English language. Franklin felt that with the emergence of a new nation, the people of America now had a chance to approach education in a fresh approach. Before that however learning was mainly done in Greek and Latin and Franklin felt that the two languages were made up of quackery of literature (Franklin, Lemay & Zall, 1981). In other words, the Greek and Latin literature forced students to learn something that they would never need once they completed schooling. According to Franklin, students should start with the English language and once they had finished, then they could go on and learn other languages that would be useful to their careers.
One of Franklin's goals towards learning and education was that it would help to create a sense of nationalism or unity among the different colonies through creations of a common education method. In his learning, Franklin also integrated science and experimentation something that he felt should also be in the centerpiece of the new education system.
From the excerpt of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, we get to understand that Franklin believed that a person's fate was never predetermined by their birthright. Franklin believed that it was only through hard work and determination that success could only be found. It was through hard work and determination that Franklin saw himself stand before kings for he had stood before five and also had an honor to sit down for dinner with the King of Denmark. To overcome difficulties, Franklin put all his confidence and abilities to reason. His confidence and the belief he had towards himself provided him a pathway to knowledge. Franklin together with other thinkers of his time always sought how they would live morally. The idea of how to live a moral life is what Franklin considered to be knowledge.
Benjamin Franklin informs us in his autobiography that he was religiously educated as a Presbyterian. Despite these, however, Franklin abandoned his religious beliefs in favor of science, reason and manmade ethics associated with that the Enlightenment to America movement. From this movement, God was not considered the sole source of knowledge. Franklin alongside other thinkers became instruments in bringing these ideas to the rest of the people. From his autobiography, however, he was a deist. In other words, Franklin still believed in a higher power but that was not necessarily from the all-knowing God (Franklin & Goodman, 2000). He says that he had never doubted of a Deity, and that God created the world and the universe and that he governed it by his providence. Franklin also still believed that human's souls were immortal and that one time we will all face judgment. We will once all be punished for our crimes and rewarded for our virtues.
Although he had abandoned his religious beliefs, Benjamin Franklin remained sympathetic to Christianity and religion. He would always attend church services when invited. Unlike other deists of his time, Franklin never withered religion by ridicule. Franklin also never bludgeon religion and Christianity to death with arguments. In his autobiography, Franklin says that though he rarely attended public worship, he still had an opinion of its utility as well as its propriety when conducted in a right manner. Franklin also says that he always paid his annual subscription and supported the Presbyterian minister.
On marriage issues, Benjamin Franklin believed that it was important for one to keep his eyes wide open before finally committing himself to marriage. Franklin also believed the proverb that says, "he that would thrive, must ask his wife." Franklin advised young people on the need to enter into marriage with both eyes open as it is a lifetime commitment. Franklin understood that though things may seem charming and attractive before an official marriage, they however never stay that way once in an official marriage. That cute girl that was always so harried may soon lose her beauty and soon might be less attractive. Benjamin Franklin believes that boys should not only use beauty as the determining factor when choosing a girl for marriage. However, the main determining factor should be based on the manner in which the girl reasons. For a young man that would love to thrive in his life, he should choose a wife with brains. From his autobiography, Franklin considers his successes to have been greatly influenced by his wife. Franklin says that his wife assisted him cheerfully in his business, stitching and folding pamphlets, purchasing old linen rags, as well as attending the shop. Franklin also says that for a long time he ate his breakfast of an earthen porringer whose value was only twopenny. One morning, however, when Franklin was called for breakfast he was served in a china bowl which his wife had bought without his knowledge as she thought her husband deserved a china bowl.
Through his lifetime, Benjamin Franklin also believed that making mistakes was a natural part of a person's learning process (Franklin, Lemay & Zall, 1981). In the science that he was involved in, hypothesizing and experimenting were integral parts of the discovery process. Therefore, mistakes are seen as a major step towards the right conclusion. At the end of the excerpt, Franklin reminds us that in his little book, he had formulated an employment scheme for twenty-four hours of a natural day. Franklin developed virtues that would help people lead a life that was morally good. Among his virtues was sincerity. We can, therefore, deduce that lies were something that Franklin certainly frowned upon.
Franklin, B., & Goodman, N. (2000). The ingenious Dr. Franklin. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Franklin, B., Lemay, J., & Zall, P. (1981). The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
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