Allan Kardec’s Views on Race Revisited*
Ricardo C. Mastroleo, Ph.D.
Allan Kardec Spiritist Educational Center Austin, Texas
1 – Introduction
In Chapter 11 of the book Genesis, Allan Kardec theorizes about the beginning of the human species on Earth. He states that when climate conditions became suitable for human life, the incarnation of human Spirits began. According to him, these first Spirits must have been very undeveloped and also displayed an array of characters and aptitudes, which naturally impelled the similar ones to be grouped by analogy or sympathy. Furthermore, the bodies in which those Spirits incarnated were compatible with their level of aptitude and desire to progress, thus leading to the formation of different races distinguished not only by their physical characteristics but also their moral standards. In Kardec’s words ,
Progress has not then been uniform among all human species. The most intelligent races have naturally advanced before others, without counting Spirits newly born into spiritual life who, having come to incarnate themselves on Earth among first arrivals, render the differences in progress more sensible. It would be impossible, indeed, to give the same antiquity of creation to savages, scarcely distinct from monkeys, as to the Chinese, and still less to civilized Europeans. These Spirits of savages however belong also to humanity. They will attain some day the level of their elders, but this will certainly not be in the bodies of the same physical race, improper to certain intellectual and moral development. When the instrument will no more be in rapport with their development, they will emigrate from this place, in order to incarnate themselves in one of a superior character, and so on in succession until they have conquered all terrestrial grades, after which they will quit the Earth to pass into worlds more and more advanced (“Revue Spirite” April 1862, p 97: “Perfection of the Black Race”).
It is clear from Kardec’s thoughts that he actually believed that there were races inherently more intelligent and morally advanced than others, which might raise a legitimate question by anyone who reads these texts almost 150 years after they were written: “was Kardec a racist?”, or even “is Spiritism complacent with racism?” For those who know the Spiritist Doctrine as well as the fraternal and liberating nature of its philosophical and ethical foundations, the answer to these questions is a resounding NO. However, in order to understand the context in which his manuscripts were written, it is necessary to have a more in-depth understanding of the scientific theories about human races that existed in Europe (and France, in particular) in the 19th century. Furthermore, it is very important to emphasize that Kardec, as a man of science, firmly believed in the Continue Reading—>
* The author would like to thank Christina Ceballos for the thorough and thoughtful review of this manuscript.