HUMANITAS was founded in May 2008 by Doctor Gabriel MECHERI in order to develop humanist approaches in training, practices and research. HUMANITAS highlights the values ​​covered by the term « humanitas » as it took on its full meaning under the impetus of Cicero. HUMANITAS works to put these values ​​at the forefront of the principles that govern relationships between human beings.

Although primarily engaged in the development of humanistic approaches in medicine (1) (2), HUMANITAS supports any approach aimed at promoting « humanitas ».

She likes to remember that this concept covers a very wide field of human qualities, which is limited only by the altruistic capacity of man: civility, politeness of manners, good manners, consideration for others , amenity, respect for weakness, fraternity, charity, justice, love, kindness, indulgence, kindness, empathy, compassion, attention, respect for the person human, the commiseration, the solidarity, the attentive care, the support, the help, the faith in the capacities of the man to be able to also work for the wellbeing of the society or in his capacity to also make beneficial discoveries .

By bringing together healthcare, training, research professionals and facility managers, HUMANITAS aims to:

1. To provide transdisciplinary training based on humanism in medicine, considering that the sick subject takes on all its dimension of being suffering and retains all its quality and dignity.

2. To contribute to research and the transmission of knowledge, on the one hand in the field of life sciences and neurosciences, and on the other hand in the field of human sciences.

3. To work towards opening up medicine within itself by breaking down barriers between specialties to converge on the humanist foundations of professional practice. Work also towards the opening of medicine to other fields of humanism. Open the association to unions or federations of associations.

4. To contribute to the fight against mental illness and alcoholism, and more generally to the improvement of people’s health, living together and public health.

5. To contribute to the protection of mothers and children and to the health education of the population by organizing support and information actions for families.

6. To seek, in consultation with all natural and legal persons who so desire, the quality of care for the quality of life.

7. To bring to the members any useful help to their professional activity and to the development of their knowledge, their know-how and their know how to be in the management of physical and mental pain, at all ages of life .

8. To study and contribute to the functioning of any modality of coordination between initial training and continuing training through the evaluation of professional practices and the analysis of needs for additional training.

9. To undertake all multidisciplinary research aimed at relieving people suffering from mental illnesses, addictions or the consequences of professional stress.


Around the concept of humanitas


Very popular these days, the words « humanism », « humanity », « humanitarian », as well as other related terms – all coming from the Latin humanus, specific to man – are very often used wrongly and through .

The vagueness, the confusion, which one notes in the use of the words derived from humanus could be attributed to the wear of time because it is true that they are related to the evolution of the thought throughout over several millennia of culture and history.

Another point of view may lead us to think that the cause of this linguistic slack is due to the fact that we are dealing with a lexical « salmigondis »: indeed, what links do they exist between the notions of classical « humanities » ( study of Latin and Greek), of “reborn humanism”, of “crime against humanity”, or of “humanitarianism” understood as the set of modern commitments that we group under the name of “humanitarian « (1).

The word « humanism » in particular is put to all sauces, and one can wonder about the meaning given to it by those who use it today to punctuate their speeches at will be political, religious or journalistic. This is the observation made by specialists in the matter when they declare that the term « humanism » is « one of those in the sense of which nobody or almost nobody really gets along. « (2), (3), or that » the word « humanism » is today a « particularly overused notion » (4), (5).

It is quite obvious that the whole of the terms proceeding from humanus does not have the exclusivity of the ill-treatment inflicted on language, so the phenomenon is banal. Why, then, should we focus particularly on the family of words inspired by humanus?

The answer is not to be found on the surface of things. This set of terms, all made up of the same “humanist” paste, is much more than simple vocabulary elements. Indeed, it seems quite essential to recall that « humanism », a concept which, seen from the small end of the telescope, may seem, in our eyes, dull or imprecise, is in fact a fundamental trait of civilization ( 6). Also, is it not of a subordinate interest to dwell on the good use of these terms all melted in the same cultural crucible. This is what this presentation aims to do.

To understand what is at stake, it is necessary to refer to the long journey of this civilization which lets emerge the successive uses of the terms « humanitas », « human », « humanity », « humanist », « humanitarian », « humanism » », All inseparably linked together by a common reference to the Latin humanus.

In the following presentation, the lexicographers were given the floor (7). They alone, it seems, can teach us, with precision and without vain digressions, when, and with what significance, the occurrences of all these terms appeared, which resemble that of humanism.

The study will go back centuries by starting from the most recent word, « humanism », to end with the oldest concept, that of « humanitas ».


This male name is attested separately in 1765 with the meaning of « philanthropy », « esteem and general love of humanity ». It is then in relation with human and humanity in the Latin sense of « benevolent, benevolent ».

The use of the word remains rare until the middle of the XIXth century. In its edition of 1866 – 1876, the Grand Dictionnaire Universel by Pierre LAROUSSE, still gives a narrow definition:
« Cult, deification of humanity »: « Humanism is a religion as detestable as all theisms of ancient origin » (Proudhon).  »
It was only in the last quarter of the 19th century. that the accepted meanings will take shape today.

▪ Humanism, derived from « humanist », was taken up around 1840 (1846, Proudhon), probably under the influence of the German humanismus « humanism ». It then designates the doctrine which ends with the human person and his fulfillment, a doctrine which attaches to « the enhancement of man » by human forces alone (8). Then, the word will gradually take one of the meanings we know today to designate a philosophical position that puts man and human values ​​above other values ​​(9).

▪ From 1877, the word appeared with the sense of movement represented by Renaissance humanists (10), (11). It designates the literary and intellectual current which, associated with the revival of ancient languages ​​and literatures, carried, in the XVth century. and XVIth century, the scholars with a passionate, exact and as complete knowledge as possible of the authentic texts and the civilization of Classical Antiquity (12).

▪ (1877). Training of the human mind through literary or scientific culture (13).


▪ This adjective was noted in 1835, before the period when the use of the word « humanism » spread. It then has the meaning of « which aims at the good of humanity ». Specific to the romantic period, it means philosophy, humanitarian system but also, philanthropic and humanitarian organization (14). The word was used pejoratively in the XIXth century. (15), hence the derivative “humanitarianism” (1836 Musset), which has today been taken out of use.

▪ As a result, the humanitarian adjective took on a more precise meaning, with regard to intervention activities in a conflict or an emergency situation, undertaken to assist populations, to save human lives. Humanitarian associations and organizations are often non-governmental (NGOs); interventions may fall under the right of interference. Humanitarian can also qualify concrete realities linked to these activities (convoy, corridor, humanitarian corridor).

▪ The word is also used as a name, either about all humanitarian organizations and the actions they carry out, or to designate a member of a humanitarian organization.


▪ The word appeared as a name at the end of the Middle Ages. Derived from humanus, humanista, term from medieval Latin (attested in the Renaissance in 1539), first designates the professor of grammar and rhetoric (12), then a scholar who has a thorough knowledge of the ancient language and literature , Greek and Latin, fields whose study is called studia humanitatis, and later in French, « humanities » (16).

▪ It was not until the 17th century (1677) that « humanist » became the name given to scholars of the Renaissance who devoted themselves to the study of ancient authors, the studia humanitatis (Lefèvre d’Etaples, Guillaume Budé , Robert Estienne, great French humanists) (17), and, in the following century (1740), designated those who taught « humanities » (1740).

▪ In the 19th century, « humanist » became adjective (1848) with the meaning of relating to Renaissance humanists (18), to the humanities. Movement, humanist doctrine. Humanist studies (humanities).

▪ At the end of the 19th century (1873), the name « humanist » also took on the meaning of a supporter of philosophical humanism, « a thinker who takes man as his supreme value ». The adjective characterizes what is relative, consistent with philosophical humanism. Humanist conception. Humanist philosophies (19).

▪ During the twentieth century, its meaning extends to the designation of people who claim to be humanism in the broad sense, who take man for an end (20).


▪ Borrowed from the Latin humanus (from homo « man ») whose meaning is « proper to man », (which includes « cultivated », « polite », « benevolent », etc.), the adjective « human » appears around 1150 by taking up the meaning of « proper to man » (21), (22).

Then, by extension (v. 1165), « that which has the characteristics of man », « the human being » (23), (24).

It is also since the 12th century (1175) that the adjective is said for « formed, composed of men », the race then the human species (25).

It is also used with the nuance of « which is relative to man, which is proper to him ». Error is human, The Human Comedy by BALZAC.

▪ Still attributed to the adjective, the meaning of « benevolent », borrowed from Latin, is attested around 1200. It is still in use today: « who is sensitive to pity », « understanding », « compassionate » (26), (27).

▪ From the 14th century. (1340), « human » is used as a noun, in the plural, for « men » (28).

Rarer in the singular, the name will indicate « what is human », « man and what belongs to man » (29), (30).

▪ The name will be used in the singular from the beginning of the XVIIth century. to designate that which belongs to man (the human opposite to the divine) and, in religious vocabulary, the adjective will apply to that which conforms to human nature, as imperfect (1671), d ‘where human means « means to achieve salvation without grace » (1690).

Also in the 17th century, the adjective « human » will mean « who has man as an object » (1661, RABELAIS, human letters, « profane literature » as opposed to the Scriptures); it also meant « cultivated » (1636).

▪ (Late 19th century). Speaking of a person in whom human nature is fully realized in what is essential and universal (31).

▪ The adjective also applies to “what concerns man as an object of knowledge”. Human Sciences. The phrase, which more here opposes the human to the divine, takes on the value of human and not inspired knowledge.


The word, attested (around 1119) before that of « human », is borrowed from the classical Latin humanitas, a notion which, characterizing what is peculiar to man, means, at the same time, « all the characters which define the human nature ”,“ feeling of benevolence ”and“ culture ”(see below humanitas). These different meanings are still used today.

▪ The first meaning given to the Latin word (humanitas, essence of man, human nature) is in use today in human sciences. In philosophy, theology, it designates the character of what is human, human nature. (Humanity and animality of man. Humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ). In anthropology, it means human character (« The fundamental criteria of humanity »).

See below (32) for derived meanings which have long since passed usage.

▪ The second meaning – benevolence – (appeared around 1170) is very commonly used today. Feeling of benevolence towards others, compassion for the misfortunes of others, kindness, charity, pity, sensitivity, mercy, meekness, indulgence, humanely (Treat someone humanely). The humanity of someone, of another, of a reaction. Feeling of humanity, movement, gesture of humanity (generosity). A man full of humanity, who understands his fellows, does good (philanthropist) (33). Century without humanity. Treat a culprit, a prisoner humanely.

▪ The general sense of men, the human race, men in general is common today. Although it appeared around 1450, it is rarely attested before the 17th century, a time when humanity takes on other values ​​influenced by those of the Renaissance word, humanist (see above).

▪ Humanity is used, first in the singular (1615, Pasquier), then in the plural, for “Greek and Latin language and literature” and for their study (1671, making one’s humanities, cf early XVIth, modern Latin studia humanitatis ). Although aged, it still designates the study of classical letters today.


In Latin, humanitas means « human nature, cultivated ». Appeared among the Romans during the 1st century BC, we agree that Cicero was the one who gave meaning to this expression.

Originally, the noun humanitas did not designate « humanity » in the sense of « all human beings », « human race », but aims to characterize what makes man unique, to define the specific qualities of human spawning, the particular characteristics of humans. Like any definition, it wants to oppose other values; first to those covered by the term immanis (monstrous, cruel, bestial …) responsible for the negation of all human values ​​(34), but also to those defined by virtus which encompasses all the male virtues of courage and energy .

At this time, the Ciceronian humanitas will bring four perspectives: “ease in interpersonal relationships (civility, politeness, affability, willingness…); an idea of ​​man as a kind of natural being carrying values ​​whose monstrosity in all its forms consecrates negation; a feeling of attachment and duty of solidarity towards the other members of the species; finally, a definition of the human through his works forming a culture. »(35)

Ultimately, the expression humanitas brings together in two subsets the characteristics recognized by man: on the one hand, those which are connected with « a quality of heart and soul which places man so high » (36 ) and, on the other hand, those which result from the general culture of the mind. It is indisputable that humanitas is associated by Cicero with literary culture, but it does not reduce it to that, and we must give wrong to Aulu-Gelle (37) when he makes it the only true meaning of the word. It is certain that Cicero encouraged an assiduous practice of letters, Greek and Latin – which makes man fully man – but he, first and foremost, paired human nature with benevolence, politeness of manners, good manners and a large number of altruistic qualities.

(1) François PROST, Humanitas: originality of a Ciceronian concept, in Philosophies of Humanism, L’Art du Comprendre, 2006 – n ° 15 – Second series, p.31.


(3) « The term » humanism « is today one of those words whose meaning would be difficult to define. Hands on heart, many apostles in the humanitarian system like to be hailed as humanists by the media. The plethoric claim of rights is also seen devoted to the name of humanism. As man, in a way, always speaks of man, any moral or political manifestation can be qualified as humanist. The religious powers themselves pride themselves on being the foundations of a humanist civilization. The thirst for popular seduction urges them to conceal the suzerainty of their god over man. »Philippe FORGET, Humanism and formation of humanitas, in Philosophies of Humanism, The Art of Understanding, 2006 – n ° 15 – Second series, p.7.

(4) Philippe FORGET, Humanisme et formation de l’humanitas, in Philosophies de l’Humanisme, L’Art du Comprendre, 2006 – n ° 15 – Second series, p.8.

(5) « Orchestrated by a certain social or political compassionism the leitmotif of » humanism « drums to our ears, through the media interposed ». Philosophies of Humanism, The Art of Understanding, 2006 – n ° 15 – Second series, Introduction.

(6) Philippe FORGET, Humanisme et formation de l’humanitas, in Philosophies de l’Humanisme, L’Art du Comprendre, 2006 – n ° 15 – Second series, p.7.

(7) All the works which made this text possible cannot be cited. However, we should mention: Le Grand Robert de la langue française, second edition edited by Alain REY and the Dictionnaire Historique de la langue française, 2010 edition, edited by Alain REY.

(8) “Modern humanism is a doctrine which, solidly based on reality, or what it believes to be such, intends to elucidate the problems that consciousness poses, and to elucidate them alone, without any religious intervention (… ) it wants to use scientific discoveries for such purposes, and, in short, to explain man by man alone. Daniel ROPS, the Soulless World, V, p. 144.

(9) “By humanism, we can understand a theory which takes man as an end and as a superior value. Jean-Paul SARTRE Existentialism is a humanism, p. 90.

(10) “Movement of spirit represented by the“ humanists ”of the Renaissance, and characterized by an effort to raise the dignity of the human spirit and to enhance it, by reconnecting, over the middle ages and the scholastics , modern culture to ancient culture « André LALANDE, Technical and critical vocabulary of philosophy, 1927.

(11) « Humanism therefore opposes the growing formalism of scholasticism a more living culture, a set of more human studies, » humaniores disciplinae « . Through him spreads the best of ancient wisdom. Strengthened by pagan philosophy, he helps to shake off the yoke of theology and reveals to the world pure ideas (…) with a spirit of submission, he replaces the spirit of examination, the taste for critical research. Hence a vast effort of spiritual and aesthetic renewal. »René JASINSKI, History of French Literature (1947), tI, p. 115.

(12) “The word“ humanism ”is sometimes challenged by historians, because it only appeared late, in the 1760s, with a meaning proper to that time (“ love of humanity ”). However, the term
« Humanist » was used in the 16th century; it comes from a common Italian word at the end of the Middle Ages, umanista,
« Professor of classical letters ». It designates all those who want to put first the studia humanitatis (expression borrowed from Cicero), the « humanities », the study of languages ​​and cultures of Antiquity, with its auxiliaries, philology and grammar. Noël Béda, syndic of the theological faculty of Paris, writes in the preface of his Annotations against Lefèvre and Erasme (1526) that his adversaries give themselves this name: « suis se verbis jactitant humanistae ». Collectif, La France de la Renaissance, Histoire et Dictionnaire, Bouquins, Robert Laffont, p.875.

(13) “A general culture, truly worthy of the name should always include, apart from the acquisition of scientific knowledge, a deep reflection on the complexity of the human person and the various aspects which it presents, an initiation also to the art of feeling and wanting. This is the essence of humanism and the very meaning of this word. A modern humanism, even if it has to become completely independent of Greco-Latin culture, will have to keep this character and for this reason it will always have to reserve an important place for literary studies. »Louis DE BROGLIE, Scientific culture, in New Perspectives in microphysics, p. 249.

(14) “Humanitarian (…) means: man believing in the perfection of the human race and working his best, for his share, in the improvement of said human race.  » Alfred. DE MUSSET, Letters from Dupuis and Cotonet – 2nd letter, 25 Nov 1836

(15) “(…) all morals must have a share of realism (…) pure virtue is murderous; and (…) a part of morality to all realism: cynicism is murderous. This is why humanitarian verbiage is no more founded than cynical provocation. »Albert CAMUS, The Revolted Man, p. 366.

(16) “Julien’s adversary was an Academician of Inscriptions, who, by chance, knew Latin (…) he found in Julien a very good humanist no longer feared to make him blush, and really sought to ‘embarrass. »STENDHAL. Red and Black, II, II.

(17) “He (the term humanism) first designated, in the minds of those who invented it, an intellectual attitude which, historically, had manifested itself during the Renaissance (…) It was, at the beginning, a discipline of intelligence rather than a philosophical conception. The word was closely related to another, neighboring by etymology: the humanities (…). The humanist was, in this view, the man who cultivated his mind, who extracted from certain disciplines (in particular those taught by the study of ancient languages) principles of thought « Daniel ROPS, What dies … II, p. 49-50.
(18) “The humanist movement became clear in Paris from the last third of the 15th century. Then the wars in Italy (from 1494) reveal the splendors of a dazzling civilization »René JASINSKI, Histoire de la littérique française (1947), tI, p. 119.

(19) « The more we study this period (the Middle Ages), the more we realize the humanist wealth it contains (…) » Daniel ROPS. What dies…, II, p. 52.

(20) « If the Marxists can claim to be humanists, the different religions, Christians, Hindus, and many others, also claim to be, above all, humanists, and the existentialist in turn, and in general all philosophies. Currently, many political currents also claim to be humanistic. Pierre NAVILLE quoted by Sartre, Existentialism is a humanism, p. 118.

(21) “(…) each man carries the whole form of the human condition. MONTAIGNE, Essays, III, II.

(22) “Rieux only had before him a now inert mask in which the smile had disappeared. This human form which had been so close to him (…) burned by superhuman evil (…) Albert. CAMUS, the Plague, p.311

(23) “Human Brothers who after us live, Do not have hearts against us hardened (…)” François VILLON, The epitaph of VILLON.

(24) “A human being, like any animal or plant, receives from his parents a certain substantial inheritance, a certain hereditary heritage. »Jean ROSTAND, the Man.

(25) “The information that ethnographers provide on the primitive form of human society is terribly contradictory. »Simone DE BEAUVOIR, The Second Sex, I, p. 107.

26) “Lord Harpagon is of all humans, the least human (…). MOLIERE, L’Avare, II, 4.

(27) “Who knows how many children perish victims of the extravagant wisdom of a father or a master (…). Men, be human, it is your first duty (…). Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU, Emile, II.

(28) “Since between humans, you live like real wolves (…)” MOLIERE, le Misanthrope, V, 1.

(29) « Without doubt your Christians, whom we persecute in vain, Have something in them that surpasses the human (…) » CORNEILLE, Polyeucte, V, 6.

(30) « (…) revive the cult of the human under the universal mode (…) ». Julien BENDA, The Betrayal of Clerics, p.238

(31) “A hero must be human. Napoleon was human (…) he was violent and light; and thereby deeply human. I mean similar to everyone.  » Anatole FRANCE, Le Lys rouge, III.

(32) The word designated the sexual parts from the 13th (1244) until the 16th century .; Rabelais uses small humanity for « penis » (1564). Another meaning concerned another characteristic of man, the goods of the terrestrial world (around 1270).

(33) “It is a feeling of benevolence for all men, which only ignites in a large and sensitive soul. This noble and sublime enthusiasm torments the sorrows of others and the need to relieve them; he would like to travel the universe to abolish slavery, superstition, vice, and misfortune. »The Encyclopedia of DIDEROT and D’ALEMBERT (1751-1772).

(34) François PROST, Humanitas: originality of a Ciceronian concept, in Philosophies of Humanism, L’Art du Comprendre, 2006 – n ° 15 – Second series, p.32.

(35) Ibidem.

(36) “(…) This quality of heart and soul that places man so high. (…)” Maurice LA CHÂTRE, New universal dictionary (1865-1870).

(37) “Those who created the Latin words and made the correct use of them called humanitas roughly what the Greeks call Paideia and we instruct and train in“ good arts ”. Those who aspire to it and seek it with sincerity, these are fully human. For the care and practice of this science has been given only to man, alone among all living beings, and it is for this reason that it has been called humanitas.  » AULU GELLE (c. 115-120 BC … JC-180), Attic Nights (Attic Noctes).