Dumont was born in Thessaloniki, in the Salonica Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. He was an associate professor at Oxford University during the 1950s, and director at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. A specialist on the cultures and societies of India, Dumont also studied western social philosophy and ideologies.
His works include Homo Hierarchicus: Essai sur le système des castes (1966), From Mandeville to Marx: The Genesis and Triumph of Economic Ideology (1977) and Essais sur l'individualisme: Une perspective anthropologique sur l'idéologie moderne (1983), in which he contrasts holism with individualism.
Dumont died, aged 87, in Paris.