Tai Shan


Crosstalk: Benjamin Franklin, part 3


In this installment of “Crosstalk,” a series of posts in the middle of each month that aims to show some connections or parallels between English/American literature and Chinese culture (mostly pop culture), we’ll move away a bit from the usual pop culture bias and look at how Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues compare to the teachings of Confucius and other Chinese scholars.  The notes, as described in an earlier post, are compiled by Lily Sun, who has for many years been using this sort of activity to help her undergraduate and postgraduate students get a grasp of English/American literature.  I appreciate her allowing me to post these thoughts at Tai Shan.  We hope to see a similar entry each month, with each post focusing on a different text.

The 13 Virtues are available online for free.  We’ll break down the notes for this text into three sections. This is the third and final installment on Franklin’s 13 Virtues.

9. MODERATION   (适度)
Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

The Master said, “Perfect is the virtue which is according to the Constant Mean! Rare for a long time has been its practice among the people.” / “Too far is as bad as not enough.”

10. CLEANLINESS   (清洁)
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
[nothing can be found to match this one.]

11. TRANQUILITY   (宁静)
Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.

The Master said, “The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress.”

The Master said, “The superior man has a dignified ease without pride. The mean man has pride without a dignified ease.”

Zi Gong asked, saying, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?”

The Master said, “Is not ‘reciprocity’ such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

12. CHASTITY   (贞洁)
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
[nothing can be found to match this one.]

13. HUMILITY   (谦虚)
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

The Master said, “Even when walking in a party of no more than three I can always be certain of learning from those I am with. There will be good qualities that I can select for imitation and bad ones that will teach me what requires correction in myself.”

Confucius replied: “He was quick and devoted to learning, and not ashamed to asked those below him.’

Mencius said, “The evil of men is that they like to be teachers of others.”

posted under books, china, chinese culture
2 Comments to

“Crosstalk: Benjamin Franklin, part 3”

  1. On April 15th, 2012 at 4:27 am Chee Keen Says:

    Great to know.

  2. On April 15th, 2012 at 6:12 pm sbryant Says:

    Thanks Chee Keen. I always enjoy Lily’s ideas on crossovers between writing in English and Chinese culture.

Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment: