Is Humanism a Form of Existentialism?


Jane Flores

Humanism and Existentialism are two philosophical schools of thought that have emerged during the 20th century. While they share some commonalities, they differ in their approach towards the human existence.

One of the most frequently debated topics is whether Humanism is a form of Existentialism. In this article, we will explore both these philosophical schools and examine whether Humanism can be considered a form of Existentialism.

What is Humanism?

Humanism is a philosophy that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively. It emphasizes reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernatural beliefs. Humanists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or any other characteristic.

Humanists believe that humans are capable of creating meaning in their lives through reason and free will. They reject the idea that there is any objective meaning to life or that there is any supernatural force controlling our lives. Instead, they focus on human potential for creativity, growth and self-actualization.

What is Existentialism?

Existentialism is a philosophy that focuses on individual freedom and choice. It emphasizes the existence of individual humans as free agents who create their own meaning in life through their choices and actions. Existentialists believe that humans must create their own values in an indifferent world.

Existentialists reject any notion of objective meaning or purpose to life. They argue that human beings are alone in an absurd universe where there are no inherent values or meanings to which we can turn for guidance.

Is Humanism a Form of Existentialism?

While Humanists share some common ground with Existentialists – such as rejecting supernatural beliefs – they differ significantly on some key philosophical tenets.

Humanists emphasize reason as a means for understanding the world around us while also valuing emotions as an important aspect of our lives. They believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals and see the pursuit of social justice as a key component of human flourishing.

Existentialists, on the other hand, emphasize individual freedom and choice, valuing authenticity and personal responsibility. They reject any notion of objective meaning or purpose to life, emphasizing instead the importance of creating one’s own values.

While there are some similarities between Humanism and Existentialism, it is difficult to consider Humanism a form of Existentialism. The two philosophical schools differ significantly on their approach towards human existence.


In conclusion, while there are some commonalities between Humanism and Existentialism, they are fundamentally different philosophical schools. Humanism emphasizes reason and ethics while also valuing emotions and social justice. Existentialism emphasizes individual freedom and choice while rejecting any notion of objective meaning or purpose to life.

Therefore, it would be incorrect to consider Humanism a form of Existentialism. Both these philosophical schools offer unique insights into the human experience, but they do so from different perspectives. Ultimately, it is up to individuals to choose which philosophy resonates with them best based on their own beliefs and values.