Benjamin Franklin and Agency: This Man was a Beast

Reading Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography (which I think is hilarious, by the way) I was thoroughly impressed by this amazing and quirky Renaissance man. I enjoy his writing style and subtle sarcasm and wit.  My over enthusiastic like of him may be due to his shining personality, or perhaps it’s because we just got through reading the Puritans, I don’t know. I think one of the reasons I like him so much is because he was an active participant of his own life rather than a woe-is-me type that felt hopeless and helpless about his condition and fate. Benjamin Franklin was by no means a “passive subject of social structure or unconscious transmitters of cultural scripts and models of identity” (54, Sidonie and Smith Reading Autobiography). Not only was Franklin an actor of his life, he was the director, screenwriter, costume designer, everything. He clearly had a strong faith in God and was not at all an atheist or agnostic but he did not believe in sitting quietly and letting life happen to him, he accomplished more in his one lifetime than most of us can even imagine. Just thinking about all his scientific inventions and theories and political activism and musical talents and authorship with the printing business, etc. etc. makes me want to take a nap. Did he not sleep or something? Did he  wear a cape and secretly fight crime on the side? Who knows, but what I do know is that he is the definition of AGENT.


I found his 13 Virtues to be most compelling and instructive in how we can make the most out of our lives as well. Socrates was the one who said “An unexamined life is not worth living” and Benjamin Franklin examined his life, thoroughly. His daily schedule included self-improvement and practices. I think we can all take a cue from this intense self-examination to make the most of our lifetimes and be all we can be. I am inspired to be more consistent with my journaling (to keep track of my life, so I can examine it) and to make a conscious effort to better myself and the world I live in.


And for all of you that are interested in doing the same, I recommend this lovely little list:  50 Life Secrets and Tips


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