Studia humanitatis

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Studia humanitatis ('humanistic studies', literally 'studies of humanity') or Studia humaniora has been the Latin name for the entirety of the humanistic educational program since the Renaissance . This was based on the return to the Greek and Roman antiquity , for which the learning and cultivation of the Greek and especially the Latin language was a prerequisite. Not all Renaissance humanists had a good command of Greek, but excellent command of Latin was definitely expected. The humanities as teaching and research disciplines are also derived from this.

Concept and history

The Renaissance humanists adopted the term humanitas from their most important ancient model, the orator Cicero . Cicero had emphasized that man differs from animals through language, and thus offered a justification for the cultivation of the art of language, as the specifically human, to be placed at the center of education. His ideal of the cultivated person was the universally educated "perfect orator" (orator perfectus) . This speaker is a scholar, but his learning is not an end in itself, but always aims at public-political life, since he is also a politician. Cicero's concept of humanitas, adopted by the humanists, includes virtues such as mildness and justice and benevolent behavior towards fellow human beings, but it differs from the modern concepts of humanity or humanity . In contrast to these, he does not focus on respect for all people and their "human" treatment, but on intellectual education. "Humanity" or "philanthropy" in the modern sense is therefore only part of the humanitas Ciceros and the Renaissance humanists, one of the fruits of the studia humanitatis .

The term studia humanitatis was first used in 1369 by the Italian humanist Coluccio Salutati . Salutati understood it to be a group of educational disciplines, namely the subject areas of grammar , rhetoric , poetry , moral philosophy (as opposed to scholastic natural philosophy ) and ancient history. Those were the humanistic subjects. This did not include logic , metaphysics , mathematics , science , medicine , law , theology and the artes mechanicae ; the term studia humanitatis was used to distinguish these areas of knowledge.

At the beginning of the 15th century, Leonardo Bruni praised the pioneer of humanism, Francesco Petrarca , for having renewed the studia humanitatis, which had died out in the Middle Ages . According to the understanding of the Italian humanists, Petrarch, who himself did not use this term, was the founder of humanistic studies. In the late 15th century, the word humanista (humanist) was derived from the studia humanitatis , which was initially only used in student jargon as a professional designation for professors in humanistic subjects. As a term for humanists (humanistically educated), humanista was not used until the 16th century.

Coluccio Salutati declared humanitas to be an educational goal and was the first to set up a study program for it, assuming that the humanistic subjects represent a unit. By humanitas he understood the connection between virtus (virtue) and doctrina (teaching). It was an educational reform; the humanists were convinced that the late medieval scholastic education system was outdated and had to be replaced by a completely new concept. The aim was to align the humanistic subjects with moral philosophy for the purpose of their practical application, that is, the education of people to a moral personality based on the ancient models. That is why Leonardo Bruni wrote that the studia humanitatis were so named because they "perfect and adorn" people. Therefore, according to the humanists, the humanistically educated deserves the highest social respect; Education should be more important than political or military power, wealth or nobility. Anything that does not directly contribute to a virtuous human lifestyle in the sense of the humanistic ideal, that is, from a humanistic point of view, has no use for life, was usually rejected by the humanists as superfluous or at least as secondary. These included, above all, scientific curiosity and speculative metaphysical knowledge.


The term humanities is a scientific categorization that is widespread in modern English-speaking countries and subsumes all sciences with reference to people (as individuals or collectives). In the meantime, the term has also found its way into German. The humanities usually include both the human sciences (such as psychology, pedagogy, geography, etc.) and the humanities including linguistics and literature , philosophy , art , history in the broadest sense, as well as the social sciences and economics . The humanities go back to the classical, philologically oriented educational canon of Renaissance humanism . Most university degrees in the humanities have an "of Arts" in the academic degree . B. Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts .

See also


  • August Buck : The "studia humanitatis" in Italian humanism. In: Wolfgang Reinhard (Hrsg.): Humanism in education in the 15th and 16th centuries (= German Research Foundation. Communication from the Commission for Humanism Research. 12). Acta Humaniora, Weinheim 1984, ISBN 3-527-17012-X , pp. 11-24.
  • Søren Kjørup: Humanities. Humanities. Sciences humaines. An introduction. Metzler, Stuttgart et al. 2001, ISBN 3-476-01823-7 .
  • François Renaud: Humanitas. In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric. Volume 4: Hu-K. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1998, ISBN 3-484-68104-7 , Sp. 80-86.