Thursday, May 7, 2009

142. Benjamin Franklin and Confucius Moral Philosophy


At the Conference organized by the well known International Association of Benjamin Franklin Friends and St. Johns College in September 2007, Dr. Wang presented Benjamin Franklin's efforts to use Confucius Moral Philosophy to cultivate his virtue. Requested by a friend of mine I publish here the main content of his presentation. According to Dr. Wang, Benjamin Franklin contacted the works of Confucius when he was in London from 1724 to 1726. Inspired by Confucius moral teachings, Franklin started the lifelong drive to cultivate his virtue. Following Confucius’ virtual cultivating procedure,--cultivating one’s self virtue first, then promote others to cultivate their own virtue and eventually illuminate virtue to the whole world, Benjamin Franklin started to cultivate his virtue as soon he returned to Philadelphia in 1728. In the period from 1728 to 1736, he focused on cultivating his own virtue. Starting from 1737, when Franklin published some chapters from the book "The Morals of Confucius,” to 1783, the Americans won a totally victory in their struggle for independence, Franklin mainly promoted the youth in North America to cultivate their morals. The final period started from 1784, when Franklin relayed his moral cultivating experiences in his autobiography, to 1790, at the last minute of his life, Franklin promoted the people of the world to advance their virtue. Franklin’s efforts at moral cultivation remade him, influenced others and left a permanent legacy in American tradition.

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