Humanism is defined as a system of thoughts in which human interests and human values are taken to be of primary importance: The definition reveals that humanism is not an individual human posture because humanism ought to have to be a system. System stands for a group or combination of people forming a unified whole. In that context a person who nurtures human interests and human values and who being a part of the group is bound to be a humanist but the individual cannot itself constitute humanism.
Ancient and modern thinkers had expounded so many explanations for humanism. One of the explanations is that humanism is a branch of philosophical thought. The philosophical thought is based on the concept that humanism is a world view covering a system of beliefs. The main concerns of the beliefs are centered on values, needs, nature and abilities of human beings. Another view which is the latest in the row and which has no takers, is that humanism pertains to a particular branch of psychology directed at the study of human nature and human values. However, many a think tank of the present, takes it for granted that humanism has only two branches, one based on beliefs and the other which belongs to secularism. The theory of psychology lacks credence and it tarnishes the image of humanism.
According to the proponents of the psychological theory, human behaviour is linked to the inner feelings of the mankind. On the basis of that concept, during the latter part of the last century (1970s and 1980s), a set of psychologists came forward with procedures for psycho-analytical studies of humanism. Psychologists of humanism, rather humanistic psychologists, are of firm opinion that in psycho analysis, objective reality is less important than subjective perceptions. They therefore reject scientific methods bracing experiments and researches where their psycho-therapy is concerned.
Humanism based on beliefs aims at understanding human nature, human values and perspectives through supernatural and transcendental domains. These domains are more important for believers even if they amount to denial of human needs and values here and now for the sake of life after death.
Secular humanism is the most sought after philosophy especially by the self acclaimed intellectuals of the modern age. The track of secular humanism is manifold: For the intellectuals, secular humanism is the only viable solution to develop knowledge of the living world as opposed to dehumanization tendencies of the belief system; human values, human nature and human experiences can be studied and understood through rationality of materialism and therefore humanism necessarily is atheistic; in fact humanism is the most important principle of Rationalism and Atheism; – thus goes their interpretations.
Humanism means many things according to the fancies of the beholders. The first and foremost among the fancies is that god created the humans in his own image and that therefore humanism embraces the system of beliefs in the supernatural. According to rational beholders, humanism is a system which does not believe in gods and deities or the system does not care for gods and deities. For them, excellent human behaviour is possible by following the path of reason. They propose that humans created thousands of gods, goddesses in their own shapes where the question of supernatural do not arise at all. The pursuers of the latter system confide that they are concerned about human rights and equal opportunities for all; that they are liberal in matters of abortion, gay rights, lesbianism, transgender, same sex marriage, assisted suicides and separation of church from state matters.
On generalization of all what are attributed to humanism, it is possible to conclude that humanism belongs to three major groups. The first one is Philosophical Humanism which came into existence by the end of the middle ages. The second group is Religious Humanism which is based on religions and religious beliefs. The third and the most popular humanism is the non-religious philosophy which promotes humanity through secular practices.
The explanations about humanism as briefed herein above give credence to the conclusion that humanism has no specific ideology, no specific line of thoughts and no line of action. Even on taking it as a branch of philosophy, humanism lacks specific system of beliefs embracing any set of doctrines. The term ‘humanism’ therefore remains as a magic wand in the hands of fence-sitters of the intellectual cauldron to induce illusions and to get applause of the innocent human beings, the world over.