This paper (based on the author's inaugural address) discusses the liability of the Good Samaritan in European and American private law. Attention is paid to the questions a) whether there is a duty to come to the rescue of people in distress, b) whether damages or fees could be awarded to the Samaritan, and c) whether the Samaritan himself is liable in case he would cause damages in aiding the other party. Building upon this comparative study, it is subseqently investigated what this means for the unification of law in Europe. It is contended that the drafting of principles of European private law is not the right way to proceed. Philosophical and anthropological insights are used to substantiate this thesis. This culminates in a 'praise of diversity' for European private law.