Benjamin Franklin And Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

Benjamin Franklin And Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

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Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson want people to realize and develop potential within them. Even though both Franklin and Emerson advocate the notion of self-realization, they come up with different ideas about success, and have various attitudes toward people who are not successful in their perspectives.
Instead of believing “their foot shall slide in due time” (Edwards, 209), Franklin and Emerson view individuals as empires full of potential rather than lives managed by God. Franklin seldom goes to public worship, because “their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens.” (Franklin, 580) Yet, he still gives money to some churches because he thinks the churches will use the money to do good, not because God lead him to do so. Compared to the view of Jonathan Edward, a God-centered society believer, that coming to God is the only way of doing good, illustrated by “That the reason why they are not fallen already, …, is only that God’s appointed time is not come.” (Edwards, 210); Franklin has separate concepts for a good believer and a good person. This differentiation illustrates that the extent of being loyal to God is not the only criteria of judging the morality anymore. In addition, Franklin’s act of doing separate worship suggests that people can have opinions as individuals other than consent with the church all the time. As for Emerson, “when he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men’s transcripts of their readings.” (Emerson, 540) Emerson thinks people can directly talk to God and form their own understandings of the Bible. Emerson’s opponent attitude toward reading “other men’s transcript” (Emerson, 540) with his perspective on books“Books are the best ...


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...themselves carefully and bring up brand new and great thoughts to contribute to the world, he has no compassion toward poor people. If each individual has ability to be self-reliant, and then the only reason why poor people are poor is that they do not even try to manage their destiny. Therefore, unlike Franklin, Emerson questions “Are they my poor?” (Emerson, 552) to blame poor people.
Destiny is not arranged by God anymore in Franklin and Emerson’s view, so that develop individual self’s desire of exploring their potentials becomes necessary to succeed. Withholding various definitions of success, Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson coincidentally stick with the same principle: everyone can succeed if he or she works hard enough. They have controversies over what is success, but the spirit of upward mobility exits in both of the authors and the time periods.

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