Seriously, I'm amazed at the width of his accomplishments. Maybe, tt would be difficult for someone today to significantly contribute to so many fields. Even in a relatively new profession like CS, we tend to specialize.
His autobiography explains his motivations (a wonderful book): http://www.gutenberg.org/files/148/148.txt
Edit: Men like Franklin see their moral code as a tool to get from point A (a humdrum life) to point B (a life of significance.) Today we see a moral code as some kind of legal document and look for violations. Aha! I see that you violated Section B Paragraph 5 "No wenching during business hours."
I suspect that this is exactly the challenge. From what I know of him, Franklin did not specialize. Was that the nature of who he was, or an artifact of the time? And, of course, what about the survivor bias? We probably wouldn't hold Franklin in such high regard if he had only excelled in one of the many areas that he's known for.
There are scientific names throughout history who shared Franklin's love of discovery. da Vinci, Pasteur, Einstein and Feynman all come to mind immediately. Who from our generations will join that list? I bet that whoever does will also have a broad set of accomplishments.
> You know, when I was a young man, hypocrisy was deemed the worst of vices,” Finkle-McGraw said. “It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticise others-after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism? … Now, this led to a good deal of general frustration, for people are naturally censorious and love nothing better than to criticise others’ shortcomings. And so it was that they seized on hypocrisy and elevated it from a ubiquitous peccadillo into the monarch of all vices. For, you see, even if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done. In this case, you are not making any judgment whatsoever as to the correctness of his views or the morality of his behaviour-you are merely pointing out that he has said one thing and done another. Virtually all political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy.
It also captures one of the (IMO) underappreciated elements of Stephenson: he takes up technology, but is hugely interested in how it interacts with both individuals and society at large.
that is not necessary,
I disagree with this one. Small talk can lead to big happenings, and have many times in my life.
That being said, I'd modify it to: Focus. Avoid multitasking so as to not do multiple things poorly.
Also these "Top 10 of best virtues ever!!1" were always constructed by male philosophers and lack stuff like "Sociability, "Care", "Empathy" or "Compassion".
Didn't a lot of "the big ones" talk about love? I think that encapsulates those values.
Interestingly, "the big ones" tend not to be classified as philosophers.
Maybe we're succeeding at passing on these character qualities to our kids at a higher rate than at any time in the past? There were thieves and liars and murderers and lazy people and scum bags 200 years ago too.
And I am not saying what you personally as a parent do. As I know that I plan on explicitly trying to teach moral principles to my kids, but I don't think we as a society teach them.
Perhaps you should take a look around outside your echo chamber and join or start the type of movement you're complaining doesn't exist.
The boy scouts are a far smaller echo chamber --and not only they are not that many, but they have almost zero influence to modern society and kids.
Plus the issue is not about some specific private club or organisation catering to the matter, but for societal norms in general.
What is relevant is that you say that we need to teach lists of virtues like this to future generations, and there are plenty of examples of that very thing. I'm not sure how you think "societal norms" work besides groups of like-minded individuals (a.k.a. "organisations") getting together and propagating their belief systems. Are you suggesting there is some sort of over-arching group representing our society that should be defining these sorts of norms?
Yes, exactly. I suggest that "society" itself is that very "over arching group".
So what I mean by this is that schools, parents, the media, the overall societal fabric that is, should teach this things, and not just some individual group.
I think the problem is that it's not society that decided that (as a collective) but individuals.
And it's a shame, because while maybe "there's no survival value in living a virtuous life" for an individual, it's an absolute necessary survival condition for a society.
This "every man for himself" is the undoing of society. That's how you get crazy high homicide rates (that make the rates in similarly developed societies like Germany or Japan pale in comparison), substance abuse, rising poverty rates, etc.
Not judging by the behaviour people one sees in any major city, or their kids, compared to historical norms of behaviour one can read about in history books.
One small example: attitude and rudeness like you see today from high-schoolers, would be totally unfathomable in a 1930 or 1950's school.
>There were thieves and liars and murderers and lazy people and scum bags 200 years ago too.
Sure. That doesn't mean societies are stationary. They change with the prevalent motives of the era, the changed ethical norms, the economic and political situation, etc.
This happens today and it happened in the past. I'm not going to believe any claims that it's worse today than in the past without evidence. It's certainly not self evident.
Do you have any better examples than school children? You can't really compare the force behaviour of oppressed children who are scared of being tortured, to the behaviour of children today in schools today. Maybe we could make them less rude by beating them into submission, but that's not a reasonable compromise.
Also, the following is commonly attributed to Socrates: "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise". If this is to be believed, rude kids with attitude have been a constant for at least the last 2400 years.
Frequently yes. Kids will be kids. We're talking about societal norms, and those have changed tremendously. Even in your example, the important thing is "young people were expected to be x, y, and z", not if they actually were x,y and z 100%. Why? Because today they cannot even be expected to be x, y and z in the first place. A lot of the past's x, y and z sound unbelievable today in themselves.
Anyway, regarding all this, if people have doubts, try talking to older people, your grandparents if they are still alive.
>Also, the following is commonly attributed to Socrates: "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise".
That's nothing of the scale you see today. Plus, he was speaking in an Athens that was about to go down the drain, i.e in a society that has lost the "connective social tissue" and people were becoming more selfish and greedy. So, if you see a parallel maybe it's not because it's been like this for 2400, but because we live in a similar era of societal decline. Things do reappear in history, after all.
Aside: speaking metaphorically for the moment, you could characterize the early history of the United States as: young upstarts (puritans) disagree with the social norms of their forebears (the Church of England), run away from home (colonization of America), and misbehave often in violent ways (the American Revolution). The English may have regarded that time period as a societal decline, even as Franklin was writing his 13 virtues!
Variously throughout history (Renaissance, Neo-Classical era - Franklin's time, etc.) society has upheld ancient values as the highest. In modern times, they've largely been replaced by scientific values. This was a big debate around Darwin's time (replacing the classical "liberal education" in Latin and Greek with modern scientific study.) It's also increasingly prevalent today, as universities are basically just for career-preparation. The dominant metric when evaluating universities is almost always "earnings following graduation".
 I don't necessarily agree or disagree with Classical values, but I do think we should sit down and make our own decisions, rather than blindly do it because Franklin/Plato/etc. says so.
Don't forget that Jesus went around defying elders and authorities. Do you want your kids to have that type of humility?
Openly committing to a policy such as this is only really useful for putting yourself on a moral pedestal above others, to improve your own self esteem or make others look bad.
I can identify plenty of situations in my own life which would be improved via pursuit of Franklin's virtues. I'd be awfully surprised if few or no others did as well.
> Openly committing to a policy such as this is only really useful for putting yourself on a moral pedestal above others
Really? Perhaps if the key word there is 'openly', you may have a point, at least within a certain constrained context; but actually committing oneself to the pursuit of these virtues, or similar ones, can certainly serve a useful and valid purpose, and if it does so for you, then you may feel motivated to discuss the relevant ideas with others 'openly', without having any of the vain intentions you list.
Do you pursue Franklin's virtues? If not, why not -- wouldn't you benefit?
tried publishing it out:
funny but i forgot i had Ben's 13 already added :)
i guess it doesn't work if it gets too big for a daily brief.