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Allan Kardec’s Views on Race Revisited. Part 6

With belief in reincarnation, the prejudices of races and castes fall dead, since the same spirit can be reborn rich or poor, lord or beggar, master or subordinate, free or enslaved, man or woman. Of all the arguments brought against the injustice of servitude and slavery, against the subjection of the weaker to the rule of the stronger, there is no one of them which expresses so logically the reason therefore as the law of reincarnation. If, then, reincarnation is founded upon a law of nature which is the source of universal brotherhood, it is based upon the same law as that of the equality of social rights and of freedom.

5 – References

[1] KARDEC, Allan, Genesis -The Miracles and Predictions According to Spiritism, Spiritist Alliance for Books, 2003, pg 122

[2] Ibid, pg 19.

[3] Ibid, pg 23-24.

[4] KARDEC, Allan, Phrénologie spiritualiste et spirite. Perfectibilité de la race nègre, or “Spiritualist and spiritist phrenology. Perfectibility of the black race”, Revue Spirite, April 1862, (original text in French) (Portuguese translation)

[5] TUCKER, William H., The Science and Politics of Racial Research, University of Illinois Press, 1994, pg 9.

[6] Ibid, pg 17-18.

[7] Ibid, pg 5.

[8] FREDRICKSON, George M., Racism – A short history, Princeton University Press, 2002, pg 57.

[9] Ibid, pg 58.

[10] Ibid, pg 59.

[11] Ibid, pg 67.

[12] Ibid, pg 60.

[13] CHASE, Allan, The Legacy of Malthus – The Social Costs of the New Scientific Racism, University of Illinois Press, 1980, pg 90-92.

[14] KARDEC, Allan, The Spirit’s Book, Allan Kardec Educational Society, 1996, Chapter IX, pg 89-90

[15] The ethics of characterizing difference: guiding principles on using racial categories in human genetics,

Allan Kardec’s Views on Race Revisited. Part 5

the 19th century, phrenology had been used to justify the superiority of the white race and to explain the irremediable nature of the more inferior races [13].

In this article Kardec examined from the Spiritist’s point of view the alleged unfeasibility of perfecting the black race, as predicted by many phrenologists. He accepted phrenology’s claim that the brains of black individuals lacked the main physical elements that would prevent them from having the same level of intelligence exhibited by the whites, consequently rendering very difficult their intellectual progress as a race, but also contended that the ability to think and learn was an attribute of the Spirit and not the brain. Therefore, Spirits incarnated as black individuals were perfectly capable of achieving spiritual, moral and intellectual progress through successive incarnations. They were like the Spirits of children that have a lot to learn and advance and, therefore, needed to be nurtured with care in order to gradually change their more primitive tendencies until they reach a point in their spiritual path when they can start to reincarnate into more evolved bodies.

By today’s standards, Kardec’s views towards the black race (and other non-white races, for that matter) can be considered discriminatory and paternalist, to say the least, but taking into account the French scientific and cultural environments of the 19th century in which they were expressed, these views represented a progressive voice that rescued the concept of equality shared by every human being, which had already been lost at that time.

4 – Conclusions

Since Kardec discussed his views on racial differences, almost 150 years have passed and remarkable progress has been made in our understanding of the genetic variations that determine the various racial and ethnic groups that exist on Earth, giving no room for racial discrimination. But it has been a long and bumpy road. Many atrocities have been committed, many fundamental human rights have been violated and many injustices have been perpetrated. But we as a civilization are learning our lessons. Today the scientific community understands that there is no scientific basis for any hierarchical grouping of individuals by race, and it fully endorses the same rights to freedom, justice, respect and dignity for all individuals of the human species [15]. Slavery became unlawful and morally unacceptable, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been created, segregation laws have been abolished, and racial tolerance has been more practiced and disseminated.

Kardec’s views on race were undoubtedly influenced by the European ethnocentric biased scientific data of his time, and not by what he inferred from the teachings delivered by the many enlightened Spirits who guided his studies and his work and who never implied that different races are characterized by different levels of inherently immutable abilities or moral standards. He was able to, nevertheless, preserve in the discussion about race the Spiritist Doctrine’s message of equality, brotherhood and fraternal love among all human beings. This is brilliantly demonstrated in his statement [3]  Continue Reading—>