Allan Kardec

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100. Preliminary Observations. – Spirits are classifed based on the degree of their advancement, the qualities they have acquired, and the imperfections they still possess. This classifcation is by no means absolute. It is only a summary of the typical character of each category, for each fows seamlessly into the one immediately above it. Specifc characteristics of the successive categories blend into one another as is often the case in nature, as seen in the colors of the rainbow and the phases of a human life.

Consequently, spirits may be divided into a number of classes, depending on one’s perspective, as in the case of any other scientifc classifcation system. The systems adopted may be more or less comprehensive, rational or appropriate for understanding, but, regardless of this, they have no effect on the facts of science. When questioned in this respect, spirits vary as to the number of categories into which they are divided. This is not a matter of practical importance. Too much emphasis is placed on this contradiction by those who fail to realize that disembodied intelligences completely dismiss any form of orthodoxy. For them, the meaning of a statement is the only important factor. They leave its form, as well as the choice of terms and classifcation to us – basically all that is required to establish systems.

We should also never lose sight of the fact that spirits, just like physical beings, can be very unaware. We can never be too careful in believing that all spirits know everything simply because they are spirits.

Classification requires a method, analysis, and thorough knowledge of the subject. Spirits who possess only a small amount of knowledge are as incapable as unaware human beings in terms of grasping the whole scope of any subject, let alone formulating a system. They have no idea, or at best, an imperfect one, regarding any sort of classifcation. All spirits superior to them appear to be of the highest order, because they are incapable of distinguishing between the various shades of knowledge, capacity and integrity by which they are separated, much like a savage would not be able to distinguish between the characteristics of civilized people. Even those who are capable of making this perception may vary in their comprehension of details, according to their unique perspective, especially in regard to a matter that is not unconditional. Linnaeus, Jussieu and Tournefort each have their own classifcation system, but the nature of botany has not changed due to this variation between botanists. They have not invented plants or their characteristics, only observed certain analogies, according to which they have formed certain groups or classes. We have proceeded in the same fashion. We have not invented spirits or their characteristics, only seen and observed them. We have then judged them by their own words and actions, and then classifed them by similarity. Our classifcation is based on the information provided by them.

Spirits generally acknowledge the existence of three primary categories, or main divisions. The bottom of the hierarchy is made up of imperfect spirits who are characterized by the predominance of material instincts over the moral nature, and the propensity to be wicked. Second degree spirits are good spirits characterized by the predominance of the moral nature over material instincts, and the desire for good. The frst or highest category consists of those who are pure spirits and have attained the supreme degree of perfection.

This division of spirits into three separate categories is perfectly logical, and under this general classifcation, we only need to highlight subdivisions within these three categories. We have done this with the assistance of the spirits themselves, whose benevolent teachings have never failed us.

Using this table, it is easy to determine the superiority or inferiority of the spirits with whom we may communicate, and, consequently, the respect and confdence to which they are entitled. Determining these points is a key to Spiritism, as by enlightening us in regard to the intellectual and moral inequalities of spirits, it can explain the inconsistencies presented by spirit communications. We have, however, remarked that spirits do not always belong exclusively to one specifc class. As their progress is only accomplished gradually, they may display the characteristics of several categories, a fact that is easily reconciled by scrutinizing their language and their actions.

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