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Benjamin Franklin's Life as a Path to Self-Improvement

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Being the most accomplished American of his age, Benjamin Franklin has made a great contribution to many fields as education, and diplomacy. He wrote his autobiography since he was a normal child who later found fame and fortune, and hoped that his story will inspire others. Also, since he could not relive his life once more, he took this opportunity to relive it through memories and by recording them. His autobiography portrayed the story of a man from rags to riches, which reveal the pragmatic spirit that deeply related to his life experiences and the American environment in the 18th century.

All pragmatists agreed on the importance of practice and action and viewed things from their pragmatic benefits. They also agreed that the best method to learn is to practice. Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography suggests many principles that he valued throughout his life and how they represented the guiding force of his life. He suggested that these principles and virtues are more important than religion regarding living one’s life honorably, as he sees that it may keep people away from honest with their virtuousness. However, principles help one to work on doing good things for the sake of it.

From the beginning, Franklin emphasized the importance of self-education/improvement, he attributed his success to proper means he led, how he emerged from poverty and achieved some degree of reputation. He recounts how he failed at math when he was a child but found himself in writing, how he later on learnt many new languages like French, Spanish and Italian. When he grew up he found Philadelphia’s first leading library and the University of Pennsylvania; they helped to bring others and himself opportunities for self-improvement and education. Franklin emphasized on this as he saw that it would always pay the best interest, and no one should ever stop improving himself.

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He then suggests how he achieved his moral perfection and how he practiced a bold project of 13 virtues. He did not only tell his readers to follow these virtues, but he also designed a plan to practice them within a circle of 13 weeks. Franklin saw these virtues were either necessary in one’s daily life, or desirable among people. This table of virtues shows that one could practically address and improve his moral worth.

This project shed lights on certain important virtues. He made a schedule for his day, allotting seven hours for sleep, 8 hours for work and 9 hours for his daily life exercises like eating, relaxing, and eating. He allotted himself one week to acquire each new virtue, and also to see his progress; he made a record book to terrace his work. This exercise falls under one of his virtue which is industry; Franklin suggests never to lose time and to be always employed in something useful and to cut all unnecessary actions. This also falls under the virtue of order; he suggests letting all one’s things have their place and to let each part of one’s business have its time. Order would give him also more time for attending to his project and studies.

Franklin also embraces silence as he mentions it would be easy to gain knowledge by considering that in conversation it was obtained rather by the use of the ears than the tongue, which was one of his habits that made him acceptable to trifling company. Franklin also suggests that both pride and vanity were hardest as he describes, since they are natural passions for people and even if one reached humility, he might be as well proud of his humility. In fact, he was never good at order or humility; he added humility later on after the other virtues because a friend convinced him that he was justly suspected of being proud.

Although many may see that Franklin did not reach the absolute perfection, he himself still felt better than before, he reached his self-improvement throughout his life. He, in fact, felt that all he achieved at the end, such as reputation and popularity were due to these efforts.

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Benjamin Franklin’s Life as a Path to Self-Improvement. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 27, 2023, from
“Benjamin Franklin’s Life as a Path to Self-Improvement.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Benjamin Franklin’s Life as a Path to Self-Improvement. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Mar. 2023].
Benjamin Franklin’s Life as a Path to Self-Improvement [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Mar 27]. Available from:
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