Gobineau, Count Joseph Arthur de

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gobineau, Count Joseph Arthur de


Born July 14, 1816, near Paris; died Oct. 13, 1882, in Turin. French sociologist, writer, and publicist; one of the founders of the racist theory and the racist-anthropological school of sociology.

From 1849 to 1877, Gobineau worked in the diplomatic service. In his basic work On The Inequality of Human Races (1853-55), he tried to establish the inevitability of the existence of a ruling elite by proposing a reactionary theory, according to which inequality connected with racial differences (the white-Aryan, yellow, and black races) and the struggle of the races ensuing therefrom are the motive force of the development of peoples. According to Gobineau, the race most favorable to cultural development is the white race, particularly its German branch. In attempting to broaden its influence, the white race becomes intermixed with other races. This, according to Gobineau, leads to the debasement of the higher races’ capabilities and culture, and in turn to their loss of their ruling position and to the rise of democracy, which Gobineau considered an inferior form of government.

Gobineau is the author of ethnographic works on the East, including one of the first studies of the Babi religion, as well as works of literature and literary criticism. A number of the latter have been translated into Russian (The Age of the Renaissance, 1913; Kandahar Lovers, 1923, and The Great Sorcerer, 1926).


Histoire des Perses, vols. 1-2. Paris, 1869.
Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines, 2nd ed., vols. 1-2. Paris, 1884.
Les Religions et les philosophies dans l’Asie centrale, 6th ed. Paris, 1957.
Lettres persanes. Paris, 1957.
Nouvelles, vols. 1-2. Paris, 1956.


Comte Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau. Brussels, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.