How does Benjamin Franklin's writing reveal him as a representative of the Enlightenment and the shift from Providence to faith in the individual? How does Benjamin Franklin's writing reveal him as a representative of the Enlightenment and reveal the shift from belief in faith in Providence to belief in faith in the individual (from a religion based to an individual based ideology)?

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The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Franklin makes the point that Franklin (1706-1790) and his contemporary intellectual thinkers may not have been aware of themselves as representatives of an "Enlightenment" movement though they were surely aware that their age marshaled in and embraced new ideological constructs. Throughout the 18th century (1700s) the idea of "reason" had been explored and defined by thinkers such as Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes and Voltaire. Some of these ideas limited the power of the government (e.g., Locke) and some denounced the all-encompassing power of the Church (e.g., Voltaire) while all advanced the rights of the individual, even Hobbes who implicitly advanced the rights of the individual by proscribing a Social Contract and a strong absolute monarchy to govern the individual's greed and selfishness.

Franklin was a participant in the discussion of this new ideology of individualism and even carried the exploration of Enlightenment reason from his writings into the...

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