Humanism embraces the ability of the individual to bring advances to society using reason in the pursuit of knowledge, and as such it may well be referred to as a religion based on reason.
Erich Fromm wrote that the person who accepts their freedom, whom he called the individualized person, may often feel left without the primary ties of belonging. In order to remain authentic, then, it is important to have a solution which Fromm called unity, a sense of oneness between the individual and the “natural and human world outside.”
Humanism provides the individualized person with this unity; the ability to be an active participant in the world without losing their freedom.
There are many different types of humanism which range from the traditional religious, including Christian, to the agnostic and atheist, and people often make a distinction between what is called religious humanism and secular humanism. What they all have in common are three core principles, nature, rationality and belonging, which make up what humanism is actually all about.
First, humanism embraces the natural world and recognizes that humans are part and product of nature itself, tracing a heritage that goes back to when life first appeared on our planet over two billion years ago. Erich Fromm introduced the term biophilia, or love of life, to describe this human orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital.
Second, a humanist uses reason and questions everything, both religious and secular, in their search for truth, and they challenge accepted doctrines rather than simply accepting established creed. Consider how much of human progress has been in defiance of religion or of the accepted natural order.
This emphasis on rationality in no way puts humanists in conflict with existentialists, however. On the contrary, intuition, hunches, speculation, and flashes of inspiration, products of the creative mind so prized by existentialists, while not considered to be valid means to acquire knowledge, are embraced by humanists because they are the sources of ideas that will often lead to new ways of looking at the world. These ideas, when assessed rationally using the scientific method, often lead to alternative approaches for solving problems.
Third, humanism provides the individual with a sense of belonging to the world by emphasizing that we are the beneficiaries of the collective knowledge of all of the humans that came before us. Additionally, if we wish to, we have the ability to make our own contribution to this ever lengthening legacy of humankind. Relishing the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options, and then sharing what we have learned with others forms the commonality that connects humanists together. The products of our creativity and rational thinking are what enable us to establish ties with the world at large.
…the above is an excerpt from the upcoming book: How to Deal with Angst & Make Sense of The World with Existential Humanism