The Ben Franklin Circle at the Dallas Institute

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Benjamin Franklin was a start-up artist, what we would call now an entrepreneur. By the age of 20, he was already devoted to the lifelong task of self-scrutiny; in 1727 he formed a “self-improvement club” and devised a list of thirteen virtues that he deemed worthy of serious time and effort within the group: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.

Are Franklin’s virtues outdated and irrelevant for the 21st century? Or might he—as an innovator and, after all, a Millennial of his own age—have had insight into something timeless and valuable even today?

This Fall, as a part of a national initiative launched with the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Stanford University’s Hoover Institute and Citizen University in Seattle, Washington, the Dallas Institute will initiate Dallas’ own Ben Franklin Circle, for the purpose of discussion of one of Franklin’s thirteen virtues, researched, explored, and related to our own culture and experiences. Sessions will be facilitated by Institute Fellows and Institute members.

The Dallas Institute in partnership with the 92nd Street Y
Fridays, 6:30-8:00 pm; reception 6:00 pm, February 10 & April 21
Per session: Members $25, Nonmembers $35, Member Teachers $15
Registration: February 10 | April 21
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The 13 Virtues of Ben Franklin

Excerpt from Franklin’s Autobiography, Chapter IX: Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection

Temperance “Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.”
Silence “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.”
Order “Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.”
Resolution “Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.”
Frugality “Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.”
Industry “Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.”
Sincerity “Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
Justice “Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
Moderation “Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
Cleanliness “Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.”
Chastity “Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”
Tranquility “Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
Humility “Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”
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