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FRIEND OF SELF FRIEND OF SOCIETY THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN OF THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY Franklins memoirs his Autobiography project a Benjamin Franklin who is a highly self-conscious individual able to reason himself into a life of self-control self-improvement virtue and multifaceted success To what successful ends does this Franklin apply himself Some may argue that Franklin takes no action but that which ultimately benefits himself This paper argues however that the Franklin we see in the Autobiographyas author as boy and as young manis not merely self-serving in the positive sense but also other-serving Indeed Franklin has eliminated self-denial from the picture but has he eliminated self-sacrifice When the interests of self and society seem to conflict we discover a Franklin who from almost the beginning tries to find a way to be a good citizen as well as a good man a friend both to himself and to others What shall we make of the motives the author gives for writing the Autobiography itself Franklin explicitly lists eight reasons Lemay 1307-8 1 his son though anyone may become Franklins moral descendant may have a filial interest in the events of his ancestors life 2 Franklin has the time and ability to write a good memoir 3 his moral posterity desiring self-improvement may want to imitate those actions suitable to their own Situations that led to Franklins successes 4 composing his autobiography provides Franklin the pleasure of recollecting his successes 5 recording his memories permits him to return continually to more pleasures of recollection in the future 6 old men as a rule tend to repeatedly recount their lives 7 Franklin aims to gratify his vanity 8 he desires to acknowledge Gods part both in leading him into success and in making his efforts successful Of these eight 2 is merely instrumental 8 is beyond anyones control 1 and 3 overlap considerably and 4 through 7 overlap as well Franklins insertion of the
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