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A Definition And Understanding Of Our Own Individualism. Speaks Of Benjamin Franklin And Carol Gilligan

1274 words - 6 pages

Benjamin Franklin's two-hundred year old autobiography and Carol Gilligan's In a different voice both guide us towards a definition and understanding of our own individualism. Ben Franklin's use of the autobiographical style with the (supposed) intent of providing a moral guide book to his 43 year old son is an ingenious one. It allowed him to be as self-aggrandizing as he wanted to be. It also affords him the protection of the morally anointed. He is writing about himself not because he wants to of course, but at the behest of his friends and for the benefit of his son. Carol Gilligan on the other hand offers up a "call to arms" to American women and feminists. In this work she is also ...view middle of the document...

His method of moral education involves a course of self- study in which one is to keep a chart and keep track of various types of moral indiscretions. Once any one type of immoral behavior is eradicated from your life you were to move on to the next type until you had reached moral perfection, or at least come as close to it as possible. On the question of moral education Carol Gilligan employs the method of psychological study. This involves an examiner and subject(s) along with a set of hypothetical dilemmas to be unraveled. This is followed by comparative evaluation and comparison with the work done by other theorists in the field. For example, when Gilligan is exploring the very basic moral concepts of right and wrong she studies the reactions of two young school age children. (Gilligan 25) The subjects are told that in order for a man to be able to save his wife he will have to steal some medicine that he can not afford. After exploring and evaluating the children's responses she compared them to similar studies done by Piaget. She concludes not be determining whether the children were right or wrong respective of their answers, but instead where the children fall on a scale of moral development.These two divergent methods give us two very different outlooks as to what is moral development. Ben Franklin would have us believe that all of the questions of morality have already been answered by the philosophers. He tells us that now it is simply a matter of each of us finding the best method for attaining moral correctness and sticking to that method until we arrive at moral perfection. He also believes that even if we do not arrive at absolute perfection we will be so much the better for trying and that any amount of effort put forth will yield some positive result. As a result in the long run this exercise will be worth it. Carol Gilligan on the other hand seems to indicate that morality individualistic, even subjective and certainly less absolute. She asserts that moral behavior is more a product of psychological development than of intensive individual study. Ben Franklin sees morality in terms of black and white. Carol Gilligan sees different acts as being locatable on a moral scale moving from basic individual need up to actions that are altruistic and fair.When it comes to social roles for men and women Carol Gilligan tells us that for maturing young adults much of their sense of self is fueled by...

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