« Lecture 6: Conflict over Slavery | Main | Civil Disobedience »

Benjamin Franklin’s Individualism

Petar Božović

In the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin we see his contribution to the individualism. He measures both religion and actions by his values. For instance, when talking about Presbyterian church he says: “and tho’ some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies.” And he “measures” the value of the discourses of the church minister and states that they were “very dry, uninteresting, and unedifying, since not a single moral principle was included or enforc’d, their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens… These were all good things; but, as they were not the kind of that’s that I expected from that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them from any other, was disgusted, and attended his preaching no more.” This principle (i.e. individualism) and his value system [are] also evident from his views of other religions: “These I esteem’d the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all religions we had in our country, I respectedthem all, tho; with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix’d with other articles, which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serv’d principally to divide us and make us unfriendly to one another.” Franlin, also, decides tolead his life without committing any moral fault, i.e. making himself morally perfect. Again emphasizing the individualism he states: “It was about this time I conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other.” In conclusion, it’s obvious that Franlin promotes the idea that everything’s measured by one’s own value system, and, hence, promotes individualism.

Post a comment

[Future Spam Check]