The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

by Benjamin Franklin

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Student Question

Do you think Franklin achieved the virtue of humility?

Expert Answers

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That's an interesting question! There is no question that Franklin thoroughly enjoyed being the center of attention under various circumstances throughout his life, but he appears to have sincerely had the best interests of his business, scientific, and political activities and causes foremost in his mind at all times. Franklin did not see any reason to bask in the glow of his accomplishments, which he easily could have at several points in his life. Instead, he believed,

Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?

and lived that belief, constantly finding new causes and devoting all of his considerable energy to advancing them. Franklin sincerely believed in the things he did, was willing to admit to mistakes when needed, learned from anyone who could educate him about new causes and concerns, and encouraged those around him to do the same. It takes humility to be ready to accept instruction from others, and Franklin did so.

Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.

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