Monday, August 29, 2011

Benjamin Franklin: Virtues Project

Part I: Your Own Virtues List

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin describes his self-improvement program for helping himself progress towards moral perfection. Franklin felt it was more useful to have a longer list of very specific virtues rather than a shorter list of broad, vague virtues. His list included 13 virtues. Your assignment is to critically examine his list. Which virtues has he omitted that are important to you? Which virtues has he included which are not terribly important to you? Create your own list of specific virtues for a person living in the 21st century. For each virtue, briefly give a description of the virtue following Franklin’s model. Your final list should include at least 10 virtues.

*Extra miler—Franklin sequenced his list in the order he felt the virtues would most naturally build on one another. Can you do the same with your own list? Why would you start with the first virtue? How does the next virtue build on the previous virtue?

Part II: Personal Virtue Log

Franklin believed that focusing on one virtue each week would gradually help him to incorporate these virtues into his character. For this assignment, you are asked to focus on charting your progress on one of these virtues for one week. Please make a chart following Franklin’s model and use it to mark each time you fail to follow your selected virtue.

Part III: Reflection

Type a written reflection on your experiences with this project. You may wish to answer some of the following questions:

  1. What did you learn or realize from creating your own values list?
  2. What progress did you make in incorporating your selected virtue into your own character?
  3. How permanent do you think any changes will be for you? Why?
  4. What made living by the virtue difficult?
  5. Do you think self-improvement plans work? Why?

Your reflection should be 250-300 words. Remember to use MLA formatting.

Due Date: Sept. 6

100 Points

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