This work dealt with the definition of death , preceding 20th-century legal debates on the issue.
Works of Gustave Le Bon by Gustave Le Bon
After his graduation, Le Bon remained in Paris, where he taught himself English and German by reading Shakespeare 's works in each language. In that capacity, he observed the behaviour of the military under the worst possible condition—total defeat, and wrote about his reflections on military discipline, leadership and the behaviour of man in a state of stress and suffering. These reflections garnered praise from generals, and were later studied at Saint-Cyr and other military academies in France.
Le Bon also witnessed the Paris Commune of , which deeply affected his worldview. From on, Le Bon was an avowed opponent of socialist pacifists and protectionists , who he believed were halting France's martial development and stifling her industrial growth; stating in "Only people with lots of cannons have the right to be pacifists. Le Bon became interested in the emerging field of anthropology in the s and travelled throughout Europe , Asia and North Africa. In , he was commissioned by the French government to travel around Asia and report on the civilisations there.
In this, Le Bon praised Arabs highly for their contributions to civilisation, but criticised Islamism as an agent of stagnation. He next published Les Civilisations de l'Inde , in which he applauded Indian architecture, art and religion but argued that Indians were comparatively inferior to Europeans in regard to scientific advancements, and that this had facilitated British domination. The same year, he delivered a speech to the International Colonial Congress criticising colonial policies which included attempts of cultural assimilation , stating: "Leave to the natives their customs, their institutions and their laws.
On his travels, Le Bon travelled largely on horseback and noticed that techniques used by horse breeders and trainers varied dependent on the region. He returned to Paris and in , while riding a high-spirited horse, he was bucked off and narrowly escaped death. He was unsure as to what caused him to be thrown off the horse, and decided to begin a study of what he had done wrong as a rider.
This work became a respected cavalry manual, and Le Bon extrapolated his studies on the behaviour of horses to develop theories on early childhood education. Both were best-sellers, with Psychologie des Foules being translated into nineteen languages within one year of its appearance. These works rankled the largely socialist academic establishment of France. Le Bon constructed a home laboratory in the early s, and in reported observing "black light", a new kind of radiation that he believed was distinct from, but possibly related to, X-rays and cathode rays.
In , Le Bon began a series of weekly luncheons to which he invited prominent intellectuals, nobles and ladies of fashion. Einstein responded and conceded that a mass—energy equivalence had been proposed before him, but only the theory of relativity had cogently proved it. Le Bon discontinued his research in physics in , and turned again to psychology.
He then released Psychologie des Temps Nouveaux before resigning from his position as Professor of Psychology and Allied Sciences at the University of Paris and retiring to his home. He became a Grand-Croix of the Legion of Honour in In putting an end to the long, diverse and fruitful activity of Gustave Le Bon, death deprived our culture of a truly remarkable man. His was a man of most exceptional intelligence; it sprang entirely from within himself; he was his own master, his own initiator Science and philosophy have suffered a cruel loss. According to Steve Reicher , Le Bon was not the first crowd psychologist : "The first debate in crowd psychology was actually between two criminologists , Scipio Sighele and Gabriel Tarde , concerning how to determine and assign criminal responsibility within a crowd and hence who to arrest.
He considered this as a shortcoming from those authors who only considered the criminal aspect of crowd psychology. Le Bon theorised that the new entity, the "psychological crowd", which emerges from incorporating the assembled population not only forms a new body but also creates a collective "unconsciousness".
Le Bon, Gustave 1841-1931
As a group of people gather together and coalesces to form a crowd, there is a "magnetic influence given out by the crowd" that transmutes every individual's behaviour until it becomes governed by the " group mind ". This model treats the crowd as a unit in its composition which robs every individual member of their opinions, values and beliefs; as Le Bon states: "An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand, which the wind stirs up at will".
Le Bon detailed three key processes that create the psychological crowd: i Anonymity, ii Contagion and iii Suggestibility. Anonymity provides to rational individuals a feeling of invincibility and the loss of personal responsibility.
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An individual becomes primitive, unreasoning, and emotional. This lack of self-restraint allows individuals to "yield to instincts" and to accept the instinctual drives of their " racial unconscious ". For Le Bon, the crowd inverts Darwin's law of evolution and becomes atavistic , proving Ernst Haeckel 's embryological theory: " ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny ". Contagion refers to the spread in the crowd of particular behaviours and individuals sacrifice their personal interest for the collective interest.
Suggestibility is the mechanism through which the contagion is achieved; as the crowd coalesces into a singular mind, suggestions made by strong voices in the crowd create a space for the racial unconscious to come to the forefront and guide its behaviour.
At this stage, the psychological crowd becomes homogeneous and malleable to suggestions from its strongest members. They are not gifted with keen foresight They are especially recruited from the ranks of those morbidly nervous excitable half-deranged persons who are bordering on madness. George Lachmann Mosse claimed that fascist theories of leadership that emerged during the s owed much to Le Bon's theories of crowd psychology.
Trotter's book Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War forms the basis for the research of both Wilfred Bion and Ernest Jones who established what would be called group dynamics.
During the first half of the twentieth century, Le Bon's writings were used by media researchers such as Hadley Cantril and Herbert Blumer to describe the reactions of subordinate groups to media. In his influential book Propaganda , he declared that a major feature of democracy was the manipulation of the electorate by the mass media and advertising.
Theodore Roosevelt as well as Charles G. Dawes and many other American progressives in the early 20th century were also deeply affected by Le Bon's writings. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Gustave Le Bon. Nogent-le-Rotrou , France. Marnes-la-Coquette , France. This section needs expansion. Lists with This Book.
Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Nov 20, Jacob rated it really liked it. Select excerpts from Le Bon's writings. Some of the wording dates the book Le Bon uses "race" where we'd use "culture" but the conclusions are as relevant as ever.
It is a refreshing read compared to the politically correct dumbed down popularizations which plague modern literature. Mohamed Oussama rated it it was amazing May 10, Josh Carter rated it it was amazing Oct 06, Mark Feltskog rated it liked it Aug 31, Rang Een rated it did not like it Jul 28, Jade Schmitt added it Jun 06, Matt added it Jan 21, Ayesha added it Apr 14, Mohammed marked it as to-read Jan 26, Chava marked it as to-read Feb 19, Joshua Muriithi marked it as to-read May 13, Hanezz added it May 14, Damasio marked it as to-read Aug 22, Carl-johan marked it as to-read Aug 28, Misghina added it Nov 26, Michael marked it as to-read Mar 06, Hany marked it as to-read Apr 16, Verena Sturm marked it as to-read May 22, Benazir marked it as to-read Oct 09, Ax marked it as to-read May 26, Islam Abou Hamda marked it as to-read Jun 01, Emre E.
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