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Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography Paper

“It will be remarked that, tho` my Scheme was not wholly without Religion there was in it no Mark of any of the distinguishing Tenets of any particular Sect. I had purposely avoided them; for beingfully persuaded of the Utility and Excellency of my method, and that it might be serviceable toPeople in all Religions, and intending some time or other to publish it, I would not have anything init that should prejudice anyone of any Sect against it. I purposed writing a little Comment on eachVirtue, in which I would have shown the Advantages of possessing it, and the Mischiefsattending its opposite Vice; and I should have called my Book the ART of Virtue, because it would have shown the Means and Manner of obtaining Virtue; which would have distinguish`d it from the mere Exhortation to be good, that does not instruct and indicate the Means; but is like the Apostle's Man of verbal Charity, who only , without showing to the Naked and the Hungry how or where they might get Clothes or Victuals, exhorted them to be fed and clothed. James II, 15, 16.”
Benjamin Franklin's beliefs are greatly indebted to the European Enlightenment whose basic assumption was a constant faith in the power of human reason. The impressing discoveries associated to this epoch prompted people to assume that through the use of reason a progress of humanity could be possible-progress in knowledge, in technical achievement, and even in moral values. Influenced by the philosophy of John Locke, the writers adherents of this trend came to believe that knowledge is not innate, but is derived only from experience and observation guided by reason. Moreover, humanity itself could be altered and its nature improved. Great emphasis was put on the discovery of truth through the observation of nature, rather than through the study of authoritative sources, such as the Bible. They also thought that human aspirations should not be centered on the afterlife, but on…

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