1944: Jean Cavailles, philosopher-mathematician

“A philosopher-mathematician loaded with explosives, lucid and reckless, resolute without optimism. If that’s not a hero, what is a hero?”

Georges Canguilhem

On this date in 1944, French intellectual Jean Cavaill├Ęs was shot at Arras for his role in the French Resistance.

The university lecturer had been called up as France mobilized against Germany, and captured in the ensuing German blitz.

Escaping, he started a subversive newspaper, was appointed to the Sorbonne, got captured again, escaped again, made it to London, and returned to occupied France to direct a sabotage campaign.

This “intellectual who loved explosives” was finally captured for good in the summer of 1943 along with his handler (and future French Foreign Minister) Christian Pineau.

On this day..