Allan Kardec

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For the Brazilian footballer, see Alan Kardec.
Allan Kardec
Born Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail
(1804-10-03)October 3, 1804
Lyon, France
Died March 31, 1869(1869-03-31) (aged 64)
Paris, France
Cause of death
aneurysm
Known for Systematizer of Spiritism
Signature AllanKardec Assin.png

Allan Kardec (French: [kaʁdɛk]) is the pen name of the French educator, translator and author Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail ([ʁivɑj]; October 3, 1804 – March 31, 1869). He is the author of the five books known as the Spiritist Codification, and is the founder of Spiritism.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Rivail was born in Lyon in 1804 and raised as a Catholic. He came from a long line of legal professionals[citation needed] and was expected to follow suit but instead pursued his interests in philosophy and the sciences, and became an acolyte and colleague of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.[2][3]Rivail completed a number of educational courses[citation needed] including a Bachelor of Arts degrees in science[citation needed] and a doctorate in medicine.[citation needed] He was also fluent in German, English, Italian, and Spanish in addition to his native French.[citation needed]

He was a member of several scholarly societies, including the Historic Institute of Paris (Institut Historique), Society of Natural Sciences of France (Société des Sciences Naturelles de France), Society for the Encouragement of National Industry (Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale), and The Royal Academy of Arras (Académie d'Arras, Société Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Arts).[2] He organized and taught free courses for the underprivileged.[2][4]

Rivail's work with Pestalozzi helped lay the foundations for the teaching model in schools in France and Germany.[citation needed] For several decades he helped advance Pestalozzi's pedagogy in France, founding schools and working as a teacher, educational writer and translator.[2] He was a professor of mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, physiology, comparative anatomy and French in Paris.[citation needed]

On February 1832, he married Amélie Gabrielle Boudet.[citation needed].

Spiritism[edit]

Allan Kardec and his wife Amélie Gabrielle Boudet

Rivail was in his early 50s when he became interested in séances, which were a popular entertainment at the time. Strange phenomena attributed to the action of spirits were considered a novelty, featuring objects that moved or "tapped", purportedly under the control of 'spirits'. In some cases, this was alleged to be a type of communication: the supposed spirits answered questions by controlling the movements of objects so as to pick out letters to form words, or simply indicate "yes" or "no".[5] At the time, Franz Mesmer's theory of animal magnetism had become popular. When confronted with the phenomena described, some researchers, including Rivail, pointed out that animal magnetism might explain them. Rivail, however, after seeing a demonstration, he dismissed animal magnetism as insufficient to explain his observations.[6]

As a result of these influences, Rivail began his own investigation of psychic phenomena, mainly mediumship.[2] During his initial investigation, he stated that before accepting a spiritual or paranormal cause for some phenomena, it would be necessary first to test if ordinary material causes could explain them. He proposed that fraud, hallucination and unconscious mental activity might explain many phenomena regarded as mediumistic, and also proposed that telepathy and clairvoyance may be responsible.[7]

He compiled over one thousand questions concerning the nature and mechanisms of spirit communications, the reasons for human life on earth, and aspects of the spiritual realm. He asked those questions to ten mediums, all purportedly unknown to each other, and documented their responses. From these, he concluded that the best explanation was that personalities that had survived death were the source of at least some mediumistic communications.[8] He became convinced that the mediums:

  • provided accurate information unknown to themselves or others present (e.g. personal information about deceased individuals);
  • demonstrated unlearned skills such as writing by illiterate mediums, handwriting similar to the alleged communicating personality, and speaking or writing in a language unknown to the medium (xenoglossy and xenography);
  • accurately portrayed a range of personality characteristics of deceased individuals.

He compiled the mediums' responses that were consistent and adapted them into a philosophy that he called Spiritism, which he initially defined as "a science that deals with the nature, origin, and destiny of spirits, and their relation with the corporeal world."[9][10][10]

Rivail wrote under the name "Allan Kardec", allegedly following the suggestion of a spirit identified as Truth.[citation needed] On April 18, 1857, Rivail (as Allan Kardec) published his first book on Spiritism, The Spirits' Book, comprising a series of answered questions (502 in the first edition and 1,019 in later editions)[citation needed] exploring matters concerning the nature of spirits, the spirit world, and the relationship between the spirit world and the material world.[citation needed] This was followed by a series of other books, including The Medium's Book, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell and The Genesis According to Spiritism, and by a periodical, the Revue Spirite, which Kardec published until his death. Collectively, the books became known as the Spiritist Codification.

Kardec's research influenced the psychical research of Charles Richet, Camille Flammarion and Gabriel Delanne.[11][12][13]

Memorial[edit]

Allan Kardec's grave at Cimetière du Père Lachaise. The inscription says Naitre, mourir, renaitre encore et progresser sans cesse, telle est la loi ("To be born, die, again be reborn, and so progress unceasingly, such is the law").

After his death caused by aneurysm, Kardec was buried at the Cimetière du Père Lachaise.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lewis Spence. (2003). Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Kessinger Publishing. p. 491. ISBN 978-1161361827
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moreira-Almeida, Alexander (2008). Allan Kardec and the development of a research program in psychic experiences. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association & Society for Psychical Research Convention. Winchester, UK.
  3. ^ Eliane Rezende Garcia. A Educação: saber e sabor na relação entre sujeitos (In Portuguese). Ponto-e-Vírgula, 10: 282-285, 2011. PUC-SP. ISSN 1982-4807.
  4. ^ (Portuguese) Textos - Allan Kardec
  5. ^ Mario Dos Ventos. (2008). Sea El Santisimo: A Manual for Misa Espiritual & Mediumship Development. Nzo Quimbanda Exu Ventania. p. 13. ISBN 978-0955690303
  6. ^ The Medium's Book, chapters 8 & 14.
  7. ^ Kardec 1860
  8. ^ Kardec 1986, 1996, 1999; Moreira-Almeida 2008
  9. ^ Kardec 1868, p. 12
  10. ^ a b Spiritism and Mental Health: Practices from Spiritist Centers and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  11. ^ Brady Brower. Unruly Spirits. The Science of Psychic Phenomena in Modern France, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010. Pp. 17.
  12. ^ Banque des savoirs. Histoire des sciences - Camille Flammarion : la passion des étoiles à la portée de tous (In French). Visited page in 07/12/2014.
  13. ^ Gabriel Dellane. Le Spiritisme devant la science, Paris, E. Dentu, 1885.
  14. ^ Raymond Buckland. (2005). The Spirit Book: The Encyclopedia of Clairvoyance, Channeling, and Spirit Communication. Visible Ink Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-1578592135

External links[edit]