Reason and Power in Benjamin Franklin's Political Thought⋆

in From Vienna to Chicago and Back

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780226776361
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226776385 | DOI:
Reason and Power in Benjamin Franklin's Political Thought⋆

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This chapter describes the mainsprings of Benjamin Franklin's political thought and action. The consequences of the conception of the universe as a “Great Chain of Being” for Franklin's understanding of human nature are highly significant. It is noted that the complex of ideas linked with the concept of the “Great Chain of Being” lowered the goals of human endeavor. The success story of his own life taught him that certain valuable things in human life can be obtained. Franklin was gifted with that “happy constitution” which he deemed a requisite for true happiness in this life. His endorsement of democracy is most emphatically revealed in his advocacy of a unicameral legislature for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and for the federal government. Moreover, his insight into the passions of pride and power prevented him from using the expectation of man's scientific and intellectual progress to the realm of moral matters.

Keywords: Benjamin Franklin; political thought; political action; Great Chain of Being; human nature; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; federal government; pride; power

Chapter.  13806 words. 

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