Sunday, July 10, 2011
235. William Temple Franklin and Confucius
Having read the previous post, “Confucius, Benjamin Franklin and his Friends,” you will know that Franklin’s friends knew very well of his life-long project of using Confucian moral philosophy to purify his virtue. What about his family members? Did they know anything about Confucius?
After careful examination of Franklin’s papers, I can state with certitude that at least one of the family members, William Temple Franklin (1760-1823), Franklin’s grandson, was familiar with Confucius. How do I know? From the letter that Louis-Felix Guinement, chevalier de Kéralio (1731-1790), sent to Temple on September 17, 1783, we can find the prove that Confucius was well-known by Temple and the French writer. He encouraged Temple to pursue knowledge by using Confucian teachings: “Confucius said that it is necessary always to learn, as if one knows nothing.”
The original letter was written in French, therefore, I give out the original version, "Confucius a dit qu’il falloit toujours apprendre, comme si on ne savoit rien."