The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

Back to the menu
About § I

1. You say: Everything that lives, thinks, thus one cannot live without thinking. The proposition seems somewhat absolute to us since the plant lives and doesn’t think. Do you take that as a principle? – A. No doubt. I speak of the animal life only and not vegetable. You must understand.

2. Later on you say: You will see that the animal truly lives since it thinks. Isn’t there an inversion in the statement? It seems that the proposition is: You will see that the animal thinks, since it lives. – A. That is obvious.

About § II

3. You brought up the drawings about the animals on Jupiter. It is noticeable that they keep a remarkable analogy with the satyrs of the fable. Would the idea of the satyrs be an intuition about the existence of beings from other worlds, and in that case, wouldn’t that be a mere fantastic imagination? – A. The newer the planet was, the more he remembered. Human beings had an intuition of an order of intermediary creatures, sometimes inferior, sometimes more advanced. That is what they called gods.

4. You then admit that the mythical divinities were nothing else than what we call spirits? – A. Yes.

5. We were told that on Jupiter one can understand each other by the simple transmission of thought. Do the inhabitants of that planet use any particular language when addressing the animals that are their servers and workers? Would they have an articulated language to communicate with the animals, and communicate through their thoughts among themselves? – A. No, there is no articulated language but a kind of powerful magnetism which makes the animal bow before their masters, leading them to execute their smallest wishes and commands. The All-powerful spirit cannot bow.

6. The animals evidently have a language among us since they understand one another, but that is very limited. Do the animals on Jupiter have a more accurate and positive language than ours? In short, an articulated language? – A. Yes.

7. Do the inhabitants of Jupiter understand better than us the language of the animals? – A. They see through them and understand them perfectly well.

8. By examining the series of living beings one finds an unbreakable chain, from the madreporite plant up to the most intelligent animal. However, between the most intelligent animal and human beings there is an obvious blank that must be filled out somewhere because there is no void in nature. Where does that blank come? – A. That blank is only apparent since it does not exist in reality. It results from extinct races (St. Louis).

9. Such blank may well exist on Earth but it does not exist in the whole set of the universe and must be filled somewhere. Wouldn’t that be by certain animals from superior worlds that, like on Jupiter for example, seem to approach very much the Earthly individual by the form, language and other signs? – A. In the superior spheres the germen from Earth evolves and it is never lost. Becoming spirits you shall meet again all beings that disappeared in the cataclysms of your planet (St. Louis).

Observation: These interim races have existed on earth and disappeared, justifies what Charlet said earlier that the more the world was new, the more he remembered. Had they existed only in the higher worlds, the human being of the earth being less advanced could not have kept the memory of them.

About § III

10. You say that everything perfects and as a proof of animal evolution you say that formerly it was more rebellious to human beings. It is evident that there is animal evolution but at least on Earth that takes place under human’s guidance. Once left to themselves the animal returns to their ferocious nature, even the dog. – A. And human beings evolve under whose guidance? Isn’t that under God’s? Everything is scale in nature.

11. You speak about rewards to animals that are mistreated and say that it is perfectly fair that they get such compensation. Therefore, it seems that you admit the animal consciousness of itself after death, with memory of the past. That is in opposition to what we have been told. If things were as you say, it would result in the presence of animals in the spiritual world. There would be no reason not to have the spirit of the oysters there. Can you tell us if you see spirits of cats, dogs, horses or elephants around you, as you see human spirits? – A. You are right, the animal’s soul is not aware of itself after death; it is a confusing mass of germs which can move to the body of this or that animal, according to the acquired development. It is not individualized. However, I shall say that in certain animals, even in many, it is individualized.

12. As a matter of fact that theory does not justify mistreating animals in any way. Human beings are always guilty for the suffering imposed on any living creature and the Doctrine tells us that he shall be punished for that. But based on that principle there is a huge distance for positioning the animals in a superior condition. What do you think about it? – A. Yes, but you must consider that there is always an animal scale and that there is some distance between certain races. The more powerful the individual is the more culpable.

13. How do you explain that in their most savage stage human beings are still obeyed by the most intelligent animal? – A. It is the action of nature in that case. The savage person is a natural person. He knows the animal intimately. The civilized person studies the animal and the animal bows before him. Human beings are always human beings to the animal, savage or civilized.

About § V

14. (To Charlet) We have nothing to say about this paragraph that seems very rational. Do you have anything to add? – A. Only this: the animals have every faculty that I mentioned but their evolution occurs from the education given by human beings and not by themselves. If left in their savage stage the animal would return to their primitive stage, when created by God. They evolve when submitted to human beings. That is all.

15. That is absolutely correct for the individuals and species but if we consider the whole scale of beings there is an evident ascending march, not limited to the Earthly animals since those on Jupiter are physically and intellectually superior to them. – A. Each race is perfect in itself, not emigrating to foreign races. These are the same kinds on Jupiter, forming distinct races, but they are not the spirits of dead animals.

16. Then, what becomes of the spirit of dead animals? – A. It returns to the mass from which each new animal extracts the necessary portion of intelligence. Well, this is precisely what differentiates human beings from the animal. In the human being, the spirit is individualized, evolving on his own, and that is what makes him superior to the animals. That is why even the savage individual, as you noticed, is obeyed and even by the most intelligent animals.

About § VI

17. You refer to the story of Balaam as a positive fact. Seriously, what is your opinion about that? – A. It is a pure allegory, or even better, a fiction to punish pride. They made Balaam’s donkey speak as La Fontaine made many other animals.

About § IX *

18. Charlet seems to have been taken by imagination in this passage since the picture that he draws about the moral degradation of the animals is more fantastic than scientific. In fact the animal is ferocious out of necessity and that is why nature has given them a special physical organization. If some must eat meat that is due to a providential reason and because it was useful to the general equilibrium that some organic elements were absorbed. Hence the animal is ferocious by design and it would be inconceivable that the moral downfall of human beings had developed the tiger’s fangs or shrunk its intestines, since there would then be no reason why the same would had not happened to the sheep. Before that we say that here on Earth, considering that the human being is little advanced, here we find the inferior beings in all senses, whose contact is cause of concern and suffering to the person, and consequently, a source of trial that helps in his future progress. What does Charlet think about these points? – A. I can only support them. I was a painter and not a scholar or scientist. That is why from time to time I am carried away by the pleasure, new to me, of writing beautiful phrases, even to the detriment of truth. However, your thoughts are very fair and inspired. I colored certain received ideas in the picture that I gave you, avoiding the shock with any conviction. The truth is that the first periods were in the Iron Age, much far from the intended smoothness. Civilization led human beings to the conquest of the true Promised Land by the daily discoveries of God given treasures, both in space and on Earth, due to the intelligence and work, not freely delivered into the hands of the child like human beings, who needed to find them out of their own intelligence. As a matter of fact, my mistake could not harm the enlightened person who could easily detect it. It would go unnoticed to the ignorant ones. However, I acknowledge my mistake. I took it lightheartedly and that gives you a chance to analyze how much you must control the received communications.

* The original shows § XI which is inexistent and an obvious typo that escaped revision (NT)


An important lesson stands out from these communications, from the point of view of the Spiritist Science. The first thing that strikes the reader, is the mix of fair, profound ideas, with a strong mark of personal observation, together with others evidently false, founded more on imagination than reality. There is no doubt that Charlet was a man above the vulgar but as a spirit he is no more universal than when alive, and may be wrong because since he is not well advanced yet, he only sees things from his own standpoint. As a matter of fact, only the spirits who have achieved the highest degree of perfection make no mistakes. The others, however good they are, don’t know everything and may be wrong; but when these are truly good they make honest mistakes and frankly acknowledge that, whereas there are others who make conscious mistakes, persisting on the most absurd ideas. That is why we must exercise caution regarding everything that comes from the invisible world, submitting it to the control of reason. The good spirits always recommend that and are never offended by criticism because they are either confident of what they say and are afraid of nothing or they are not as confident and aware of their insufficiency as the ones who seek the truth. Well then, if human beings can learn from the spirits, some spirits can also learn from human beings. The others, on the contrary, want to dominate; expecting to impose the acceptance of their utopic ideas just because their condition as spirits. Then, out of presumption or ill faith, they cannot bear contradiction. They want to be accepted in their word since they know well that they cannot afford serious examination. These are offended by the slightest question about their infallibility and arrogantly threaten to abandon you, as if you were unworthy of hearing them. Also, there are some who only like those that kneel before them. Aren’t there human beings like that? Would there be any surprise in finding them in the spiritual world as well? Such a trait is always an indication of pride, conceit, foolish vanity, and thus petty ideas and poor judgment. Something that is a clear sign of inferiority in people could not be a sign of superiority with the spirits.

Charlet, as just seen, willingly gives himself to the controversy; he listens and admits the objections, responding kindly; develops what was obscure and openly acknowledges what was not accurate. In short, he does not want to pretend to be wiser than he actually is, demonstrating more elevation than if he had persisted on false ideas, like certain spirits who are stunned by the simple comment that their communications seem to require analysis. Something that is still proper of those proud spirits is a kind of fascination exerted upon their mediums who sometimes are led to share the same feelings. We say “their mediums” on purpose because they are taken over and the spirits want to use them as if blindfolded. They would never adapt to an inquisitive medium or someone with clear vision. Doesn’t this also happen among human beings? When the person is caught and out of fear that he might escape, the person is inspired to stay away from whoever may clarify them. The person is somehow isolated to be more easily influenced or only allowed to approach those who are harmless to the foreign influence. They pretend to be good apostles in order to capture their trust, typically taking the name of venerable spirits whose language they try to imitate. Nevertheless, however much they do, ignorance shall never be capable of imitating true knowledge and a perverse personality shall never be able to replicate true virtue. Pride will always hide under a cloak of false humility and because they are afraid of being caught they avoid arguments, keeping their mediums away from that.

There is no one, which when judging cold-bloodedly and without prevention, could not judge such an influence as bad, once it sticks out form the most basic common sense that a really good and enlightened spirit would never use such influence. Therefore, one can say that a medium that is submitted to that kind of influence is under the empire of an obsession, from which one must be freed as soon as possible. What we want, before anything else, is not communications at any price but good and truthful communications. Well then, in order to receive good communications we need good spirits and in order to have good spirits we need good mediums, free from any bad influence.

Thus, the kind of spirits that habitually assist a medium is one of the first things to be taken into consideration. There is a flawless criterion to identify that and it is not in the material signs or in the formulas of evocation or conspiracy that it will be found. The criterion is in the feeling inspired in the medium by the spirit. One can assess the nature of the spirits that guides a medium by the way he behaves and consequently, the degree of trust that his communications deserve.

This is not a personal opinion or a system but a principle inferred from the strictest logic if we admit the following premise: a good spirit cannot suggest a bad thought. While it is not demonstrated that a good spirit may inspire evil things, we shall say that every action that is far from benevolence, charity and humility, and where one can detect envy, jealousy, pride or simply acrimony, it cannot have been inspired but by a bad spirit, even when the latter would employ the most beautiful maxims; for a truly good spirit would demonstrate it by acting according to those words. The practice of Spiritism is surrounded by many difficulties; the deceiving spirits are so canny, so smart and at the same time so numerous that it would never be too much to forearm oneself with maximum precaution to frustrate them. That is why it is necessary to scrutinize with great care every indication that may betray them and those indications are both in their language and in the actions provoked by them.

Having submitted these reflections to the spirit of Charlet, here is what he said about it: “I can only support what you have just said and advise everyone involved with Spiritism to follow such wise advice, evidently dictated by good spirits, but which are not absolutely appreciated by the bad spirits, you can believe me there, because they know very well that this is the most efficient way of fighting against their influence. Thus, they do whatever it takes to veer off that course anyone that they want to lure into their nets.”

Charlet said that he was dragged by the pleasure, new to him, of writing beautiful phrases, even at the expense of truth. What would happen had we published his work without comments? Spiritism would have been criticized for accepting such ideas and for not being capable of distinguishing between true and false. Many spirits are in the same condition. They find satisfaction to their self-serving purpose by going through the mediums, since they cannot do it directly, to create pieces of literary, scientific, philosophical or dogmatic work of large scope. However, when these spirits have only pseudo-knowledge they write absurd things, like some people would do. It is particularly present in those continued pieces of work that we can assess them because their ignorance fails them, not allowing them to take that role for long and they reveal their limitations themselves, hurting logic and reason at every step. There are sometimes some good ideas amidst several false concepts, and those good ones help the illusion. Such incoherence can only demonstrate their incapacity. These are the bricks that human beings can align the stones for the construction but incapable of building a palace. It is sometimes curious to see the inextricable mess of combinations and reasoning that they find themselves getting into, and from which they do not exit but to the cost of utopias and sophisms. We have seen some that have left their work, after some effort. Some others, however, never give in and want to act to the end, still laughing at those who take them seriously.

The considerations above were suggested to us as a general principle, and it would be a mistake to see any application in them. Among the several publications about Spiritism there is no doubt that some would yield a founded criticism but we do not place them in the same basket; we indicate the way of assessing them and every one can proceed as they wish. If we have not decided to evaluate them in The Review it is because we are afraid of any misunderstanding about the true objective of the criticism that we could make. Hence, we prefer to wait until Spiritism is better known and particularly better understood. Then, our opinion sustained by a widely understood foundation cannot be accused of partiality. This expectation happens daily since we see public opinion preceding ours in many circumstances. We then congratulate ourselves for the reservation. We shall carry out that examination when the time is right but we can already foresee the basis of our argumentation. It is logic that can be applied by each and every person since we do not have the silly pretension of having the honor of its ownership. In fact, logic is the great criterion of every spiritist communication, as it is of every human activity. We know well that someone whose reasoning is faulty mistakenly, considers oneself logical. That person is logical in their own right but only to themselves, not to others. When logic is rigorous, like in two plus two equals four and the consequences are derived from obvious axioms, sooner or later the general common sense does justice to all those sophisms.

We believe that the following propositions have such a character:

1. The good spirits can only teach and inspire good; thus, anything that is not rigorously good cannot come from a good spirit;

2. The enlightened and truly superior spirits cannot teach absurdities; hence, any communication stained by manifested mistakes or contrary to the most basic scientific data and contrary to observation, attests the outright inferiority of its origin;

3. The superiority of any text is in the fairness and depth of the ideas and not in the decorations and redundancies of style; hence, every spiritist communication where there is more brilliant phrases and words then solid thoughts, cannot come from a really superior spirit;

4. Ignorance cannot counterfeit true knowledge, nor can bad counterfeit true good, absolutely; thus, every spirit that says anything incompatible with their borrowed venerable name is responsible for fraud;

5. Giving more attention to the thought than to the external form is in the very essence of an elevated spirit, thus resulting that the elevation of the spirit is directly proportional to the elevation of the ideas; hence, every spirit that is meticulously concerned with the details of form, that prescribes fatuities, in a word, that gives importance to signs and to material things, reveals, for that very reason, petty ideas, and cannot be truly superior;

6. A truly superior spirit cannot contradict oneself; thus, if two contradictory communications are given under the same respectable name, one of them is necessarily apocryphal, and if one is true, then it can only be the one that by no means denies the superiority of the spirit that signs it off.

The consequence that results from these principles is the moral questions one must consider with reservations and must never be accepted without examination. The need for great circumspection in the publication of their writings derives from that, particularly when those are prone to ridicule through the proposal of strange doctrines or incoherent ideas. We must be cautious about the inclination of certain spirits to present systematic ideas and the passion with which they seek their propagation.

Hence, it is particularly with the scientific theories that extreme prudence is recommended, avoiding to take by truth some systems that are sometimes more attractive than real, and that sooner or later may be officially rejected. Those systems may eventually be presented as probabilities, as long as they are logical, and as basis for future observation; but it would be lack of prudence to faithfully accept them prematurely. The proverb says: “Nothing more dangerous than a reckless friend”. Well, that is the case of those in Spiritism who are led more by passion than reason.

Related articles

Show related items
Wait, loading...