RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EXISTENTIALISM AND HUMANISM
Both movements preach and support the following doctrine, irrationalism, the existence of the individual, the skeptical belief in God, freedom. Choice and responsibility, commitment, reduction of existence to human existence alone and a concrete support for the empirical sciences. It is on this line that I will base my argument.
Both movement do not agree with some philosophers that says that reason is the sole source through which reality can be comprehended, existentialism is of the view that the rationalist are over exaggerating the power of human reason, this position lead to the propagation of irrationalism as a theory to counter rationalism. The humanist on their own part did not see any reason why anybody should see reason as the sole instrument by which reality could be grabs. From the above it is very clear that both movement is against the excessive use of the human reason to arrive at the true position of things.
Both movements is very concerned with the existence of the individual, as the existence of the individual implies the existence of others, the existentialist according to Omoregbe, states that “man is not only a being in the world, but also a being with others”4, for the humanist according to Sartre “man is the future of man”5. This shows that they both believed in the existence of man, their existence as it affects others in the society.
An existentialist once said if God did exist, that would make no difference, the humanist rejects all forms of theism and supernaturalism, they believe in the empirical evidence of things and reject all metaphysical explanation of God. This group work with what they can verify as such they do not believe in the transcendental explanation about the existence of God and the supernatural. They both do not believe in God because they do not see God as an actor in this physical world.
Both parties has reduced the word existence to the actual existence of the human person, they both analyze the peculiar characteristic of human existence as the ability to act, the only reason why the existentialist denied other things existence is because they do not have the will to make choice, the humanist on the other hand believes that man cannot fine help in any other creature than man, that is to say man is able to make decision in the face of alternative. Existence for them (existentialist and humanist) is the ability to act, humanism and existentialism are philosophy of human existence. The humanist holds that “man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exist only as far as he realizes himself as nothing but the sum of his action”6. The existentialist on their own holds that “human existence is a drama in which every individual is an actor”7.
They feel that since man think man exists.
The issue of freedom, choice and responsibility is very central to both movements, they believed that man is a free moral agent that is free to decide on what to do, he makes a choice of what to do and not to do, he also take responsibility for whatever action taken, that is to say weather existentialist or humanist, at the end of every action it is how the person feels that matters since the central theme of existence is on man, they both reject the doctrine that the actions of man is being determined. They see freedom as part of the human nature and not what man has come to quire as he lives his life.
The humanist and existentialist believes that it is the nature of man to commit himself, they feel that man should not be afraid to commit himself since freedom must be committed in to action, the humanist holds that. Both the humanist and existentialist denied the theory of Quietism which holds that “let others do what I cannot do”8, they believe that in what ever situation man find himself he should be free to commit himself and give meaning and values to things
Existentialism and humanism deals more with the practical aspect of life and the things that exxist that is things that has the ability to make choice, carry out actions, and take responsibility for what ever actions they have taken. It is a philosophical movement that centered on the substance of man and how man can get the best in a world that is full of different troubles, how we are not satisfied with the kind of answers we get. It is a philosophy of how man can improve his lot in an unstapled world, it is a philosophy that has to do with the practical and real existence of man, i.e. man as an agent that is capable of reacting. In my candid opinion, it is very clear beyond doubt that existentialism is another name for humanism, a pragmatic philosophy that explains and takes into account the true existence of man, the ultimate concern of humanism is to build a just and humane society for the survival of man, on the other hand the sole aim of existentialism is for one to freely live his life the way he chooses to live it provided that he takes responsibility.