Campus Erasme in Brussels

“Why else would man want to live longer than to be of service to as many others as possible?” is the motto of Erasmus Hospital and Campus Érasme in Brussels. This campus houses the health training programs of the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Someone told me that there is also a statue of Erasmus in the hall, but I did not find it, and Erasmus himself will probably feel better remembered by such an appropriate quote than by a statue.

“Who was Erasmus? That’s a good question, one that I have never actually asked myself” is an answer I get a lot from students and staff at Campus Érasme. Yet I learn that the name was chosen at the very beginning (in 1976?) of the academic hospital; and the name Erasmus fits well with the concept of a free university which, after all, does not want to submit to the dogmas of the church. Although that did not come up in any lecture, many students do know from the Erasmus house where he lived, that he was a humanist in his day, a thinker in times of Enlightenment and the Renaissance. Based on the faculty motto, a few think Erasmus must have been a physician; but though he wrote a “Praise of Medicine,” Erasmus’ medical insight was particularly that red wine was good against all his ailments and especially his kidney stones.

Quality of life

So although Erasmus was certainly not a physician, I find the quote “Why else should man wish to live longer than to be of service to as many others as possible?” quite appropriate in a medical setting (unfortunately, I don’t know where to find the Latin source text). Erasmus ended up being quite old for his time, but he realized that quality of life is more important than long life and that quality of life is not just a matter of health. And I think that thought still fits well with contemporary education as well.

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