A Heroic Philosopher

It's not impossible. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for her, but you have to respect her devotion to reasoned moral duty in the face of danger.
Anne Dufourmantelle entered the water at Pampelonne beach near St Tropez on 21 July after the children got into difficulty.

Witnesses say she immediately tried to reach them but was swept away by a strong current. Attempts to resusciate her after she was recovered failed, according to local media reports.

The children were later rescued by lifeguards, unharmed. It was unclear whether Dufourmantelle knew them.

She wrote several essays on the importance of risk-taking, as well as a book titled Praise of Risk, which was published in 2011.
Good for you, ma'am. It's not the worst thing to die for your principles.


Anonymous said...

Better yet to know how to handle yourself in the water, before attempting a rescue.


raven said...

I was sitting on the ferry a long time ago, and the guys in the next booth were discussing an unknown to me individual. After dismissing this person for some time, and going on about all his assorted failings, one finally asked the other what ever became their acquaintance.

"He was killed, died going into a burning house to save some kids."

Sometimes, the manner of ones death can say more about a person, than an entire life's work.

Grim said...

Just right, Raven.

Valerie, it is of course best to know how to swim before you try to rescue a drowning person. Kant goes so far as to say that it's only a moral duty to try if you believe you have the capability. But it's hard to judge the currents while you are standing on shore. How much worse to have stood on that shore and said, "I'm just not sure" while the children drowned.

This story went badly for her, but it could as easily have gone badly without her. Rescuers for the children might not have been able to get to them in time. The current that killed her might not have been present. She did her best in a good cause, in accord with rational principles. The fact that it didn't work out is not, I think, reason to criticize her.

raven said...

We never know, do we? Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don't and sometimes all we have is not enough.

Grim, I don't know if you are familiar with this man. To do what he did, once, would put ones name on the Roster of Hero's. But five times?


Grim said...

Now that's a story.

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting that link, raven. I would never have known that story otherwise, and it is worth knowing.

One of the military blogs had a "Someone you should know" category with posts about heroic individuals and their deeds. It was always both humbling and uplifting to read - humbling in the sense of "could I have done that in the same situation", and uplifting to know good men, good people, walk among us still. Pierlucio Tinazzi is someone we should know.


douglas said...

Pretty sure that was/is Blackfive.

To anyone who says it's not worthwhile to sit around and talk and think about questions (many persons view of philosophy), she is a great retort. She acted in the moment of urgency as she had spent her time thinking she should act. Isn't this why we need to tell the kinds of stories of heroism that our society had been steering away from for the last half century? Interesting to note that of late, what seems to interest my boy and his friends (tenth graders now) is superheroes and the like. I suppose it's just something in us- at least, I hope so.

Raven, your story reminds me about some friends of my parents. The husband is an almost stereotypical 'little Asian man', and as quiet, kind and humble as you'll find. Years back when their daughters were young, he was home with them, doing some cooking, and caught the house on fire. He got out, but they were napping, so he went back in twice to get them out. They were o.k., but he suffered some pretty bad burns. My father always made it clear to me how much he respected the man, as he had in the moment of trial, met the test. That had an impact on the young man I was then.

Texan99 said...

It reminds me, too, of the guy who dived repeatedly to help passengers thrown into the icy Potomac when that plane went down near National Airport. He saved several people, but didn't make it out himself in the end.