man (homo) become human (humanus)? Thus humanitas really does remain the concern of such thinking. For this is humanism: meditating and caring, that human beings be human and not inhumane, "inhuman," that is, outside their essence. But in what does the humanity of the human being consist? It lies in his essence.

But whence and how is the essence of the human being determined? Marx demands that "the human being's humanity" be recognized and acknowledged. He finds it in "society." The "social" human is for him the "natural" human. In "society" human "nature," that is, the totality of "natural needs" (food, clothing, reproduction, economic sufficiency), is equably secured. The Christian sees the humanity of man, the humanitas of homo, in contradistinction to Deitas. He is the human being of the history of redemption who as a "child of God" hears and accepts the call of the Father in Christ. The human being is not of this world, since the "world," thought in terms of Platonic theory, is only a temporary passage to the beyond.

Humanitas, explicitly so called, was first considered and striven for in the age of the Roman Republic. Homo humanus was opposed to homo barbarus. Homo humanus here means the Romans, who exalted and honored Roman virtus through the "embodiment" of the παδεία [education] taken over from the Greeks. These were the Greeks of the Hellenistic age, whose culture was acquired in the [152 {GA 9 320}] schools of philosophy. It was concerned with eruditio et institutio in bonas artes [scholarship and training in good conduct). Παδεία thus understood was translated as humanitas. The genuine romanitas of homo romanus consisted in such humanitas. We encounter the first humanism in Rome: it therefore remains in essence a specifically Roman phenomenon, which emerges from the encounter of Roman civilization with the culture of late Greek civilization. The so-called Renaissance of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Italy is a renascentia romanitatis. Because romanitas is what matters, it is concerned with humanitas and therefore with Greek παδεία. But Greek civilization is always seen in its later form and this itself is seen from a Roman point of view. The homo romanus of the Renaissance also stands in opposition to homo barbarus. But now the in-humane is the supposed barbarism of Gothic Scholasticism in the Middle Ages. Therefore a studium humanitatis, which in a certain way reaches back to the ancients and thus also becomes a revival of Greek civilization, always adheres to historically understood humanism. For Germans this is apparent in the humanism of the eighteenth century supported by Winckelmann, Goethe, and Schiller. On the other hand, Hölderlin does not belong to "humanism," precisely because he thought the destiny of the essence of the human being in a more original way than "humanism" could.


Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Letter on Humanism - Pathmarks