Franklin’s virtues have everything to do with his plan for moral perfection. By beginning his list with Temperance, he understands the fact that drinking and eating to excess will dull his abilities to concentrate on the other virtues. He lists order and resolution. In order to be able to successfully manage his plan for moral perfection, he needs order in his life. Not just knowing where things are but an order and structure to his day. Resolution addresses the idea of doing what one says he will do. Again, he must not only set about his plan in writing, but he must also perform the various elements of his plan.
The next few virtues deal with aspects of life not only related to the plan but designed to make him a better person. Frugality is addressed in not spending excess money or time. In a way, this also means sticking to a plan. Budgetwise, if he cannot afford something, he won’t spend the money on it. Timewise he feels the same. Moderation seems the same as temperance, but it isn’t. He proposes moderation in all things, not taking anything in life to the extreme. By proposing this virtue, he even sets about the idea that his plan for moral perfection will not take over his life.
Life consists of many things and finding a balance is important. Industry means always being busy trying to accomplish something, which again can refer back to the plan. Cleanliness seems just a common virtue to many of us allowing us to live a full life. Tranquility is about not sweating the small stuff. In other words, even if he has setbacks on his plan, he should not sweat them; he should simply move forward. Some of the other virtues seem more social in nature. Silence and sincerity go well together. He will be a better man in listening more than he speaks. And sincerity means both in thoughts and in speech.
These will allow him to have better relationships with others. Justice seems appropriate for his plan as not wronging someone will certainly aid in making one a better person. Chastity is about restraint. Again, he will become a better person by not giving in to all the temptations of life. And lastly, humility is listed. Imitating Jesus and Socrates seems like a lofty goal, but certainly one that should be near the end of the list as it would be one of the hardest to achieve. Once he achieves this, he would truly have achieved moral perfection by modeling himself after Jesus or Socrates.
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