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The 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

In America, American History, Arts & Letters, Books, Ethics, History, Humanities, Literature, Western Civilization on June 26, 2013 at 8:49 am

Benjamin Franklin

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin listed 13 virtues by which he sought to live.  Here they are:

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 extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10.  CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, 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 dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13.  HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Franklin was a great man, even if he fell far short of his own high standards.  Lists like these can, I think, help one to improve oneself.  See my reading list for this year.


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