Monday, March 14, 2011
212. For Ben Franklin, Confucius Moral is Universal
Benjamin Franklin understood well that not everything in one place can be accepted by other people. He gave several examples, such as Chinese music in North America, Japanese food and Arabic perfumes in some countries. However, is there anything that universally accepted in the world? Yes. Franklin regarded Confucius moral philosophy is the universal principle, which should be practiced anywhere in ther world.
In April 1749, when he re-edited his well-known Poor Richard's Almonac, Franklin pointed out, "But the benevolent mind of a virtuous man (Confucius--this author), is pleas'd, when it is inform'd of good and generous actions, in what part of the world soever they are done."
Amazed by Confucius, Franklin designed a plan for an international party of virtue. He also planned to write a book on the art of virture, which would be "a kind of manifesto for an international movement" (in Edmund Morgan's words). In July 1749 Franklin told George Whitefield that "Confucius, the famous eastern reformer, proceeded. When he saw his country sunk in vice, and wickedness of all kinds triumphant, he applied himself first to the grandees; and having by his doctrine won them to the cause of virtue, the commons followed in multitudes." (Franklin's Letter is available from this link)