The aim of humanistic ethics is not the repression of man’s evilness but the productive use of man’s inherent primary potentialities. Virtue is proportional to the degree of productiveness a person has achieved. If society is concerned with making them productive and hence with creating the conditions for the development of productiveness. The first and foremost of these conditions is that the unfolding and growth of every person is the aim of all social and political activities, that man is the only purpose and end, and not a means for anybody or anything except himself.
The productive orientation is the basis for freedom, virtue, and happiness…As we have shown, the wish to make productive use of his powers is inherent in man, and his efforts consist mainly in removing the obstacles in himself and in his environment which block him from following his inclination. Just as the person who has become sterile and destructive is increasingly paralyzed and caught, as it were, in a vicious circle, a person who is aware of his own powers and uses them productively gains in strength, faith, and happiness, and is less and less in danger of being alienated from himself; he has created, as we might say, a ’”virtuous circle.” The experience of joy and happiness is not only, as we have shown, the result of productive living but also its stimulus…Every increase in joy a culture can provide for will do more for the ethical education of its members than all the warnings of punishment or preaching of virtue could do.
Erich Fromm (1947) Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics (p.231-232)