French intellectual known as 'new Darwin' dies in US

5th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

French intellectual Rene Girard, an academic fascinated in the causes of conflict who earned the nickname "the new Darwin", died Wednesday in the US, Stanford University said. He was 91.

Girard, who died after a long illness, was an emeritus professor at Stanford University's French and Italian department, where he taught for more than 30 years.

A member of the prestigious Academie Francaise, Girard began as a literary theorist but "was fascinated by everything.

"History, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religion, psychology and theology all figured in his oeuvre," Stanford said in a statement.

Girard was especially interested "in the causes of conflict and violence and the role of imitation in human behavior," it said, adding that his "concerns were not trendy, but they were always timeless."

French President Francois Hollande expressed on Thursday "the nation's recognition" of a "demanding and passionate intellectual".

Fellow Stanford professor Robert Pogue Harrison said that Girard's legacy was "not just to his own autonomous field -- but to a continuing human truth."

Another Stanford professor Michel Serres coined his nickname as "the new Darwin of the human sciences".

Girard was the author of nearly 30 books, which have been widely translated.

They include "Deceit, Desire and the Novel" (1961), "Violence and the Sacred" (1972), and "Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World" (1978).

His last major work was "Achever Clausewitz" (2007), which Stanford said was cited by then French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

He had lived in the US since 1947.

Girard is survived by his wife of 64 years, Martha, two sons and a daughter, and nine grandchildren.

© 2015 AFP

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