Allan Kardec

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19. It is generally supposed that, in order to convince, it is sufficient to demonstrate facts. Such would indeed appear to be the most logical method; nevertheless, experience shows us that it is not always the best, for one often meets with persons whom facts the most irrefragable do not convince in the slightest degree. The reason of this failure we shall now try to make apparent.

In spiritism, the question of spirit-communications is secondary and consequential; it is not the starting-point. Spirits being nothing else than the souls of men, the proper ground for argument is the existence of the soul. But how can we get the materialist to admit that beings exist outside the material world, when he believes that he himself is nothing but matter? How can he believe in spirits outside himself, when he does not believe that he has a spirit within himself? In vain will you urge the most conclusive arguments on such a one ; he will contest them all, because he does not admit the principle which is their basis. All methodical teaching should proceed from the known to the unknown; what the materialist knows about, is matter; take your stand, then, on matter, and endeavour, above all things, while bringing his mind on to your standpoint, to convince him that there is in himself something beyond the laws of matter; in a word, before trying to make him a spiritist try to make him a spiritualist;* but, for that purpose, you must appeal to quite a different order of facts, and adduce arguments of a very different character. To talk to a man of spirits, before he is con- vinced that he has a soul, is to begin where you should end ; for he cannot admit the consequence, if he do not admit the premiss. You should, before undertaking to convince the incredulous, even by facts, make sure of their Opinion respecting the soul, that is to say, ascertain whether they believe in its existence, in its survival of the body, in its individuality after death; if their answer be negative, to speak of spirits would be trouble thrown away. This is the rule; we do not say there are no exceptions to it, but, in the exceptional cases, there is probably some other cause which renders your interlocutor less recalcitrant.
* See Vocabulary for this distinction.

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