THE SPIRITS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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843. Do human beings have free will in their actions?
“Since they have freedom of thought, they also have freedom of action. Without free will, they would be nothing more than machines.”


844. Do human beings have free will from birth?
“They possess free will from the moment when they possess the will to act. In the earliest phase of human life, free will is almost nonexistent. It is developed and changed with the development of the faculties. Children, having thoughts that match the wants of their age, apply their free will to the things that are necessary corresponding to that age.”


845. Are the instinctive tendencies that human beings have at birth an obstacle to the exercise of their free will?
“The instinctive tendencies of every individual belonged to their spirits before incarnation. If they are not very advanced, these tendencies may motivate such individuals to do wrong and spirits who sympathize with the wrong they do support them. However, no temptation is irresistible when there is a determination to resist; remember that ‘where there is a will, there is a way’.” (See no. 361)


846. Does our body influence the acts of our life? If so, does this influence constitute a violation of our free will?
“Spirits are definitely influenced by matter, which may hold them back in their manifestations. This is why, in worlds where the body is less material than on Earth, the faculties are exercised more freely. However, it is important to remember that the instrument does not confer the faculty. You must also distinguish between moral and intellectual faculties. If some individuals have the instinct to commit murder, their spirits possess it, not their bodies. Those who obliterate their thoughts solely to care about matter become like animals and, even worse, they no longer try to protect themselves from iniquity. This constitutes culpability, because they act of their own free will.” (See no. 367 et. seq. Influence of the Body)


847. Do anomalies of the faculties deprive individuals of their free will?
“If the intelligence of human beings is altered by any cause whatsoever, then they are no longer the masters of their thoughts and are no longer free. Such anomaly is often an atonement for spirits who, in another life, have been vain or arrogant, or have made bad use of their faculties. They may be reborn in the body of a mentally impaired person, as a tyrant may be reborn in the body of a slave, and a callous wealthy man in that of a beggar. Such spirits suffer from this constraint, of which they are fully aware, and this is the action of matter.” (See no. 371 et seq.)


848. Is the impairment of the intellectual faculties produced by drunkenness an excuse for reprehensible behavior?
“No, because alcoholics have voluntarily deprived themselves of their reason to satisfy their unrefined passions. They commit two crimes, instead of just one.”


849. What is the dominant faculty of savages? Is it instinct or free will?
“Instinct, which does not prevent them from acting with absolute freedom in certain things. However, like children, they use their freedom for the satisfaction of their wants, and only evolve through the development of their intelligence. Consequently, as you are more enlightened than a savage, you are more responsible than a savage if you do wrong.”


850. Is social standing sometimes an obstacle to complete freedom of action?
“The world definitely has its demands. God is fair and takes everything into account, but will hold you responsible for any lack of effort on your part to overcome such obstacles.”

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