Benjamin Franklin was a forward thinking philosopher in the 18th century. Many believe that his modern way of thinking made America what it is today. His ideas and values shaped the next century’s way of thinking, and developed literature, politics and science.
Benjamin Franklin was a true man of the enlightenment. He worshiped science, reason, human rights, free thinking and morality. Benjamin believed that there was a reason behind everything and not a higher power, as most people believed at that time. At an early age he distanced himself from the Puritan beliefs. Later, he became a believer of Deism. Deism is the belief that God created the world on the evidence of nature and reason, but God has since remained indifferent to the world. In addition, he believed that religion was worthless unless it promoted virtuous behavior. He suggested that religion is only important to behave in a righteous, honest and ethical way. He also believed that it was important to have a moral government; however, not everyone needed to be religious in the government. This was the basic idea of the separation between religion and the state. At that time there was no separation between religion and state, since the colonies were mostly run by religious leaders. These religious leaders believed that they got their political power from god, a higher power.
In Education, Benjamin Franklin was also a modern thinker. “He was always acting to advance human well-being, and fostering lives of virtue and service to make this advance possible” (Cambridge Companion 105). In 1731, he founded the first American Philosophical society, it was the first science library, first museum and first patent office. Benjamin Franklin wanted to expand the frontiers of science and innovations. He wanted to break the barrier of the narrow thinking people in his society. The people at that time in the colonies were very religious and believed that they should only learn to read and write. In order to understand the bible. However, Benjamin Franklin wanted the colonists to use their writing and reading skills also in science. His view on education was very modern, since he wanted education to become wider spread and more common to society.
Through a group called “Juno” and his newspaper Benjamin Franklin wanted to spread intellectualism with. He described the group as a “Club for mutual Improvement”. They discussed points of morality, politics or natural philosophy. When the group grew to an “optimum” size of 12, Benjamin encouraged the participants to start their own groups and spread their ideas all around Pennsylvania. Through his newspaper “The Pennsylvania Gazette”, he spread his modern thinking ideas in columns. The newspaper gave the population an opportunity to inform themselves and learn. It encouraged growth in general knowledge and freedom in speech.
Benjamin Franklin was a modern thinker, because he had a modern way of thinking about religion. He was an advocate of separating religion from government. Additionally, he supported education and promoted the spread of education throughout Pennsylvania. He also educated and informed the population about his ideas though his “Juno” club and his newspaper.
Link to an video explaining the 13 virtues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpqst6jyi-w