About Jean Cavaillès (1903-1944), French epistemologist Georges Canguilhem remarked:
A philosopher-mathematician loaded with explosives, lucid and reckless, resolute without optimism. If that’s not a hero, what is a hero?
Cavaillès was a logician and philosopher of mathematics. His most notable work is On Logic and the Theory of Science. In it, Cavaillès surveys strands of neo-Kantianism, logical positivism, and Husserlian phenomenology, assessing whether any of them can supply an adequate theory of science.
Serving as a lieutenant at the start of World War II, Cavaillès was honored for bravery twice. After being taken prisoner in May 1940, he escaped to Clermont-Ferrand, where he resumed teaching courses. He was one of the four or five founders of the first Resistance movement in France, known as “the Last Column.” Once hired at the Sorbonne in 1941, Cavaillès continued to help sprout resistance groups. In 1942, he began work for French intelligence (operating out of London), setting up intelligence networks, all the while forming more resistance groups and being denounced by the Vichy regime. On Logic and the Theory of Science was written while he was imprisoned in Montpellier, from which he escaped in December 1942. In the Editors’ Preface to the book, discussing Cavaillès’ work for the Resistance, the editors write:
This task nevertheless did not detract him from his philosophical work. The two were not really separate for him. The return to reflection in the heat of action seemed to him indispensible in order to preserve his sanity.
After escaping from Montpellier, he continued to sabotage German and Vichy efforts. However he was soon captured by Vichy authorities and in 1944 he was executed by a German Wehrmacht firing squad.
Sources: Wikipedia; Cahiers pour l’Analyse; Phenomenology and the Natural Sciences (Kockelmans & Kisiel)