Jean-Francois Revel was born in 1924 in Marseilles.
He was a French politician, journalist, author, prolific philosopher and member of the Académie française since June 1998.
He was born Jean-François Ricard, but adopted his pseudonym Revel as his legal surname in 1958 after the success of his first essay, Pourquoi des philosophes.
He studied in Marseilles then at the Lycée du Parc in Lyon, and finally was accepted at the prestigious École normale supérieure in Paris where he studied philosophy.
During the German occupation of France in WWII, Revel participated in the French Resistance.
He began his career as a philosophy professor, and taught in French Algeria, Mexico and Italy, before settling in Lille.
He stopped teaching in 1963 and embarked on his career as an essayist and writer, as well as directing various publications.
At the end of the 70’s, he became the editor for many years of the influential political weekly L’Express.
A socialist until the end of the 1960’s, (he ran as a socialist candidate in parliamentary elections in 1967 but lost), he was known during the Cold War as a champion of the western version of values such as liberty and democracy at a time when the majority of European intellectuals praised Communism or Maoism. The publication of his 1970 book, Without Marx or Jesus signalled the transition of his views to liberal “philosopher of freedom in the tradition of Raymond Aron.”
He was best known for his books Without Marx or Jesus, The Totalitarian Temptation, The Flight from Truth and his 2002 book Anti-Americanism.
He is survived by his second wife, Claude Sarraute, a journalist, and has 3 sons from two marriages. His first marriage to painter Yahne le Toumelin ended in divorce.
One of his sons, Matthieu Ricard, is a well known Buddhist monk who studied molecular biology at the Pasteur Institute before converting to Tibetan Buddhism. Father and son jointly authored a book Le moine et le philosophe (The Monk and the Philosopher) about the son’s conversion and Buddhism.
(Source : Wikipedia)