Benjamin Franklin Essay

597 Words3 Pages
Benjamin Franklin’s Idea of Moral Perfection as a Paradox In Philip Santa-Maria’s critical essay on Benjamin Franklin’s idea of moral perfection, he examines the autobiography in several ways. Santa-Maria views Franklin’s autobiography as a “pocket guide for the youth of the 19th century” (Santa-Maria). He believes that Franklin wrote the autobiography as a standard of excellence for an enlightened individual. Throughout the course of his critical essay, Santa-Maria critiques the thirteen virtues Franklin promotes in his autobiography, as well as the basic idea of moral perfection. Santa-Maria begins his essay by expressing his belief that Franklin is actually hindering the liberation of the youth in his efforts to promote their liberty. He believes that Franklin’s whole virtue system is a paradox. Furthermore, Santa-Maria believes that Franklin’s virtue system is only a new disciplinary system and nothing more. He expresses his belief that Franklin’s autobiography is merely a collection of encounters with various individuals, who he then judges based on their virtues. Santa-Maria also says that while Franklin promotes the idea of being like Socrates, Franklin is in fact more like Epicurus. Santa-Maria ends his essay by stating that he believes that Franklin’s interpretation of virtue is a failure, and that moral perfection is impossible. I believe that Santa-Maria’s critical essay was very clearly written and thought-provoking. He expresses his ideas very clearly, and has a lot of background information to back it up. It was very easy to comprehend what he believed, and easy to see why he felt this way. While I think that it was a well written essay, I disagree with many points that the author made. I do not believe that Franklin’s virtues are a paradox. I believe that Franklin’s virtues are well thought out and are all beneficial rules to live
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