The Psychology of Peoples: Its Influence on Their Evolution

Gustave Le Bon (1841 - 1931)

"It is barely a century and a half ago that certain philosophers, who, it should be remarked, were very ignorant of the primitive history of man, of the variations of his mental constitution and of the laws of heredity, propounded the idea of the equality of individuals and races... It is in the name of this idea that socialism, which seems destined to enslave before long the majority of Western peoples, pretends to ensure their welfare... The object of this work is to describe the psychological characteristics which constitute the soul of races, and to show how the history of a people and its civilisation are determined by these characteristics... We shall then examine whether the elements composing a civilisation, its arts, its institutions, its beliefs, are not direct manifestations of the soul of races, and whether in consequence, it is not impossible that they should pass from one people to another. We shall conclude by attempting to determine what are the necessities under the influence of which civilisations decay and die out." - extracts from the Introduction. Also, "...The author's central thesis is that chance, environment and institutions play but secondary parts in the history of a people. Character (race) is the important thing. This character - a people's morality and conduct - is determined mainly by its ancestry. After character, ideas, and particularly religious ideas are the most important factors in the evolution of a civilisation. The possession of a small number of highly developed minds is what differentiates a superior from an inferior race." - Mind a Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy. Edited by
G. F. Stout. The Aberdeen University Press. Vol. VIII.-1899. p. 122-23.

- Summary by Oxenhandler

Genre(s): Psychology, Social Science (Culture & Anthropology)

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 00 Introduction Oxenhandler
Play 01 The Soul of Races Oxenhandler
Play 02 The Limits of the Variability of the Character of Races Oxenhandler
Play 03 The Psychological Hierarchy of Races Oxenhandler
Play 04 The Progressive Differentiation of Individuals and Races Oxenhandler
Play 05 Formation of the Historical Races Oxenhandler
Play 06 The Various Elements of a Civilization Considered as a Manifestation of the Soul of a People Oxenhandler
Play 07 How Institutions, Religions and Languages Are Transformed Oxenhandler
Play 08 How the Arts Are Transformed Oxenhandler
Play 09 How the Soul of Peoples Is Responsible for Their Institutions Oxenhandler
Play 10 Application of Preceding Principles to the Comparative Study of the Evolution of the United States of America and of the Spanish-American Republics Oxenhandler
Play 11 How the Modification of the Soul of Races Affects the Historical Evolution of Peoples Oxenhandler
Play 12 The Role of Ideas in the Life of Peoples Oxenhandler
Play 13 The Role of Religious Beliefs in the Evolution of Civilizations Oxenhandler
Play 14 The Role of Great Men in the History of Peoples Oxenhandler
Play 15 How Civilizations Fade Away and Die Out Oxenhandler
Play 16 General Conclusions Oxenhandler