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Filling the Grid: Benjamin Franklin’s Art of Moral Improvement in Historica...

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Benjamin Franklin House

36 Craven Street

London

WC2N 5NF

United Kingdom

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In his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin famously recommends his ‘Art of Virtue’ to arrive at moral perfection. Franklin made an adjusted version of the cardinal virtues, and then used a grid-table in which he concentrated on one virtue per week, leaving the others “to their ordinary chance.” He was surprised how difficult this exercise was, but it also gave him the satisfaction of seeing his faults diminished. Harro Maas, professor of history and methodology of economics, will compare Franklin’s procedure with the Chinese so-called “ledgers of merit and demerit” of the late Ming dynasty and with the use of daily planners in the Victorian period to show how such instruments were designed to teach individuals to act prudently. Maas will briefly draw connections to the current interest in self-measurement, and in (dystopic) visions on social credit.


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Benjamin Franklin House

36 Craven Street

London

WC2N 5NF

United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

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