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Benjamin Franklin's The Art of Virtue consists of a collection of Franklin's writings organized around his timeless philosophy on such topics as: goal setting and personal achievement, obtaining wealth and preserving health, human relations and family living, religion and morality, aging and dying, and much, much more.
Full of profound insights, delightful humor, quotable quotes, and plenty of common sense; The Art of Virtue provides wonderful reading for both young and old alike.
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In 1732, at the age of 26, Benjamin Franklin first conceived the idea writing a book he wanted to title, The Art of Virtue. The book was to be based a method of self-improvement he had earlier developed and felt had been quite helpful to him. Though Franklin never completed this work, he nurtured the idea for well over fifty years of his life. In 1860, Franklin wrote to a close friend, Lord Kames:
I propose. . . .a little work for the benefit of youth, to be called The Art of Virtue. From the title I think you will hardly conjecture what the nature of the book may be. I must therefore explain it a little. Many people lead bad lives that would gladly lead good lives, but do not know how to make the change. They have frequently resolved and endeavored it; but in vain, because their endeavors have not been properly conducted. . . .
Most people have naturally some virtues, but none have naturally all the virtues. To acquire those that are wanting, and secure what we acquire, as well has what we have naturally, is as properly an art as painting, navigation, or architecture. If a man would become painter, navigator, or architect, it is not enough that he is advised to be one, that he is convinced by the arguments of his advisor that it would be for his advantage to be one, and that he resolves to be one, but he must also be taught the principles of the art, be shown all the methods of working, and how to acquire the habits of using properly all the instruments; and thus regularly and gradually he arrives, by practice, at some perfection in the art. . . .
My Art of Virtue has also its instruments and teaches the manner of using them. . . .
While writing his autobiography in 1785, Franklin commented on The Art of Virtue as follows, . . . .being fully persuaded of the utility and excellence of my method, and that it might be serviceable to people of all religions. . . .I purposed writing a little comment on each virtue, in which I should have shown the advantages of possessing it and the mischief's attending its opposite vice; and I should have called my book, The Art of Virtue.
But it so happened that my intention of writing and publishing this comment was never fulfilled. . . .the necessary close attention to private business in the earlier part of my life, and public business since, have occasioned my postponing it. . . .[and] it has hitherto remained unfinished.
Thanks to Mr. Rogers, The Art of Virtue which Dr. Franklin so long contemplated has now been masterfully completed. Providing marvelous insight into both his methods and his motives for self-improvement, the Art of Virtue is must reading for anyone serious about getting the most out of life.From the Author:
A number of years ago, I came across an odd volume of Franklin's writings and was immediately drawn in by some of the most sagacious and entertaining reading I had ever encountered. Nothing would do but that I should obtain a complete set of his writings. It took some effort, a couple of years, and a little money, but I was eventually able to acquire my own set Franklin's writings; old, dusty, and not well used; but well worth the effort. As I began reading these dusty old volumes, I could not help but feel the previous owner had been sitting upon a virtual storehouse of knowledge without ever appreciating its value. Whether in letters to friends, essays, satires, or official correspondence, Franklin wrote with pith, clarity, and humor. Moreover, he wrote about things that are important to know, things that for the most part are as relevant to day as when he wrote them. To me, Franklin gave moving and compelling expression to ideas I had long believed, but had never been able to articulate myself.
So it was, that while reading these wonderful books, I began to ponder how I might communicate some of these ideas to my children. I felt it would have been a great advantage to me had I come across these ideas at a younger age and wanted to find some way to pass them on to my children while they were still in their youth. Recognizing they might not be as interested as I was in plowing through these old books, I began marking passages and sections intending to somehow extract and compile them in a form my children might be likely to read. In the process, it occurred to me that the material I was marking was information Franklin would likely have included in his book, The Art of Virtue, had he been able to write it. For all of his accomplishments, these were the ideas that mattered most to him, the beliefs, motivations, and purposes that guided his life. It then occurred to me that others would probably enjoy and benefit from this material as well, so I began forming it in a manner that corresponded with Franklin's original intent as best as I could. The happy result has been Benjamin Franklin's The Art of Virtue. It has now been read by thousands of readers, whose experience has largely confirmed my own, that Franklin had something of worth to say to anyone who would take the time to find out what he had to say.
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