Difference Between Liberalism and Humanism

Liberalism and humanism are political and social doctrines that defend the freedom and value of man, seeking to promote the greatest welfare of the people. These arise as a philosophical current in Europe and present important and marked differences between them, especially because humanism was a cultural movement that had incidences in politics and liberalism was a political-economic current. Liberalism and humanism will be defined in this article in order to point out the most outstanding characteristics and differences between them.


Liberalism is a philosophical current that is characterized by promoting the civil liberties of citizens, therefore, it defends the initiatives of individuals in economic, cultural and social matters, it also limits the participation of the state in these aspects but allows it participation as governing body in these areas.

It arose in Europe between the 16th and 17th centuries as a civil movement in opposition to despotism that conceived the concentration of absolute power to a specific person or group (monarchies).

The most important characteristics of liberalism are:

  • The defense of individual freedoms of citizens.
  • The right and defense of private property.
  • Equality of all individuals before the law.
  • Tolerance and religious freedom.
  • Limited participation of the state in economic affairs (he conceived it as a governing body and the progress of society through free investment and production.

On the other hand, liberalism emerged as a current of thought but had political, economic and social implications, so it was later considered a political-economic movement and a social philosophy.


Humanism is a cultural movement that emerged in Europe and that promoted the appreciation of man in all his aspects. It had important incidences in social and political matters, therefore, it directly influenced the economy. Humanism as a political movement was framed within the socialist current, criticized capitalism a lot and considered that changes should be made to the economic system to guarantee greater well-being for the people.

In that order of ideas, he also considered that if a government focuses on the economic, it leaves aside the social value. Its main characteristics are:

  • Find a balance between justice and freedom.
  • It favors the creative virtues of men, but protects them from a will to dominate.
  • It seeks an open society that allows the nation’s assets to be consolidated and is based on the Justicialist doctrine.

Having presented the main characteristics of these two movements, the following differences are presented:

Liberalism Humanism
It is a concept applied to the social, with incidences in the political and economic. It is a concept applied to culture and literature with incidences in the political, economic and social.
It assumes the state as the governing and protectionist entity of commercial relations. Assumes the state as guarantor of social welfare.
In this movement there is private property over the means of production. For this movement there is no private property over the means of production.
It considers that each individual has the right to own their capital and production. Considers that production and capital belong to the community and not to a single individual.

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