ALLAN KARDEC - Hippolyte-Léon-Denizard Rivail
Head and founder of the doctrine said spiritist, born in Lyon, on October 3rd, 1804, native of Bourg-en-Bresse, Ain department. Although he was son and grandson of lawyers, and from an old family that stood out in the magistracy and in the legal profession, he did not follow that career; since early he devoted himself to the study of science and philosophy. Pestalozzi's student, in Switzerland, he became one of the eminent disciples of this celebrated pedagogue and one of the propagators of his education system, which exerted great influence on the educational reform in France and Germany. It was at that school that were developed the ideas that put him, later, in the category of the progressives and the freethinkers. Born in the Catholic religion, but educated in a Protestant country, the acts of intolerance that he has suffered, in this field, they made him, starting from his fifteen years old, to conceive the idea of a religious reform, in which he worked in silence for many years, with the thought of achieving the unification of beliefs; but it lacked for him the indispensable element for the solution of this great problem. Spiritism came later to bring to him and give a special direction to his works. Around 1850, regarding to the manifestations of Spirits, Allan Kardec devoted himself to persevering observations about these phenomena and he grasped himself mostly to deduce them philosophical consequences. He intervened, first, the principle of the new natural laws: those that govern the relations of the visible world and the invisible world; he recognized in the action of the latter the forces of nature, whose knowledge would throw light on a multitude of problems taken as insoluble, and understood his reach from the scientific, social and religious points of view. His major works on this subject are: The Spirits' Book, for the philosophical part, whose first edition was published on April 18th, 1857; The Book on Mediums, for the experimental and scientific part (January 1861); The Gospel According to Spiritism, for the moral part (April 1864); Heaven and Hell or Divine Justice, according to Spiritism (August 1865); The Spiritist Magazine, Journal of Psychological Studies, monthly collection started on 1st January 1858. He founded in Paris, on 1st April 1858, the first spiritist society regularly constituted under the name of Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, whose sole purpose is the study of everything that can contribute to the progress of this new science. Allan Kardec himself justifies for not having written anything under the influence of preconceived or systematic ideas; man of character cold and calm, he observed the facts and, from his observations, deduced the laws that governs them; he was the first to give them the theory and to them form a methodical and regular body. Demonstrating that the facts falsely qualified as supernatural are subject to laws, he made them enter the order of natural phenomena and destroyed, thus, the last refuge of the wonderful and one of the elements of superstition. During the first years in which they gave importance to the spiritist phenomena, these manifestations were more object of curiosity than matter of serious meditations; The Spirits' Book considered the thing in a whole other aspect; then the dance of tables was abandoned, which had not been but a prelude, and joined itself to a body of doctrine that embraced all the questions of interest to humanity. The publication of The Spirits' Book marks the true foundation of the Spiritism that, until then, did not have but sparse elements without coordination, and whose reach could not be understood worldwide; at that time also the doctrine fixed the attention of serious men and had rapid development. In a few years these ideas found numerous supporters in all layers of society and in all countries. This unprecedented success is due to the sympathy that such ideas found, but it is also due in large part to the clarity that is one of the distinctive features of the writings of Allan Kardec. Refraining from abstract formulas of metaphysics, the author knew how to put himself available to worldwide and to be read without fatigue, essential condition for the vulgarization of an idea. On all controversial points, his argumentation, of exact logic, offers little chance to refutation and predisposes to conviction. The material evidence that Spiritism gives about the existence of the soul and the future life tends to destroy the materialistic and pantheistic ideas. One of the most fruitful principles of this doctrine, and coming from the preceding, is the plurality of existences, already seen by a multitude of ancient and modern philosophers and, in recent times, by Jean Reynaud, Charles Fourier, Eugène Sue and others; but it was in a state of hypothesis and system, while Spiritismshows its reality and proves that it is one of the essential attributes of humanity. From this principle elapses the solution of all the apparent anomalies of human life, of all the intellectual, moral and social inequalities; the man knows, so, where he comes from, where he goes, for what purpose he is on Earth, and why he suffers here. The innate ideas are explained by the knowledge acquired in previous lives; the upward walk of the folks and of the humanity, by men of ancient times that revive after having progressed; sympathies and antipathies, by the nature of previous relationships; these relationships, linking the great human family of all ages, offer as base the same laws of nature, and not a theory, to the great principles of fraternity, equality, freedom and universal solidarity. Besides, it relates directly to religion, according as the plurality of existences, being the proof of the soul's progress, radically destroys the dogma of hell and eternal punishment, incompatible with this progress; with this outdated dogma fall the numerous abuses of which it was the source. Instead of the principle “outside the Church there is no salvation”, that maintains the separation and the animosity between the different sects and did shed so much blood, Spiritism has the maximum “out of charity there is no salvation”, this is, equality of all men towards God, tolerance, freedom of conscience and mutual benevolence.Instead of blind faith that annihilates freedom of thought, he says: “There is no unflagging faith but that one that can look at the reason facing all ages of mankind. It takes a basis for faith and that base is the perfect intelligence of what one must believe; to believe it is not enough to see; it must, above all, understand. Blind faith is no longer of this century; well, it is precisely the dogma of blind faith which makes today the most number of unbelievers, because it wants to impose itself and requires the abdication of one of the most precious faculties of man: reasoning and free will” (The Gospel According to Spiritism). The spiritist doctrine, as shown in the works of Allan Kardec, contains in itself the elements of a general transformation in ideas, and the transformation of ideas inevitably leads to that of the society. From this point of view, it deserves the attention of all the progressives. Its influence, which already extends to all civilized countries, gives to the personality of its founder a considerable importance, and it is expected that, in the near future, he will be considered one of the reformers of the nineteenth century.
LACHÂTRE, Maurice. Allan Kardec. In: LACHÂTRE, Maurice. Nouveau dictionnaire universel. Paris: Docks de La Librairie, 1865. p. 199. Tome premier.