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Joseph Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882)

Joseph Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882), French diplomat and social philosopher, whose racial theory, pervaded by anti-Semitism, later became a philosophical justification for Nazi racism. Gobineau was born in Ville-d`Avray, near Paris, France, to an aristocratic family. From 1848 to 1877 he held diplomatic posts in Iran, Germany, Greece, Brazil, and Sweden. In addition to his diplomatic roles, Gobineau was an avid writer. He wrote novels, and books on religion, philosophy, and history. Gobineau`s most famous work, "Essay on the Inequality of Human Races" (1853-1855), stated that the Aryan, or white, race was superior to all other races. His theory of racial superiority later influenced the German composer Richard Wagner and Wagner`s son-in-law Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and was eventually adopted by the German dictator Adolf Hitler. Gobineau`s theory of racial superiority has been thoroughly refuted and is considered worthless by modern anthropologists. Gobineau`s other books include "The Renaissance" (1877; translated in 1913), a study of the psychological motives behind the Italian Renaissance.

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