100 Quotes by Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre, a towering figure in existentialist philosophy, delved into the depths of human existence and the complexities of free will. His works, including "Being and Nothingness," explored the concept of existential angst – the anguish of grappling with our own existence and the inherent responsibility it entails. Sartre rejected the idea of predetermined human nature, asserting that individuals define themselves through their choices and actions. His philosophy emphasized the individual's autonomy and the imperative to create meaning in a seemingly indifferent universe. Sartre's ideas influenced not only philosophy but also literature, politics, and psychology, fostering discussions about authenticity, ethics, and the nature of human relationships. His legacy challenges us to confront the uncertainties of existence and to find purpose in the face of life's inherent ambiguities.

Jean-Paul Sartre Quotes


If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company.

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Man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exists only in so far as he realizes himself, he is therefore nothing else but the sum of his actions, nothing else but what his life is.

Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.

We are our choices.

He who asks a question is a fool for a minute; he who does not remains a fool forever. When you realize that by changing your perspective, big things can be seen as little things, it becomes much harder to worry about anything. Commitment is an act, not a word.

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.

Before you come alive, life is nothing; it 's up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing else but the meaning that you choose.

What is life but an unpleasant interruption to a peaceful nonexistence.

We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us.

I'm going to smile, and my smile will sink down into your pupils, and heaven knows what it will become.

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Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. [It is a matter of choice, not chance.] Such is the first principle of existentialism.

Everything has been figured out, except how to live.

In life man commits himself and draws his own portrait, outside of which there is nothing. No doubt this thought may seem harsh to someone who has not made a success of his life. But on the other hand, it helps people to understand that reality alone counts, and that dreams, expectations and hopes only serve to define a man as a broken dream, aborted hopes, and futile expectations.

Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.

I am. I am, I exist, I think, therefore I am; I am because I think, why do I think? I don't want to think any more, I am because I think that I don't want to be, I think that I . . . because . . . ugh!

Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.

There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours.

Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.

I felt myself in a solitude so frightful that I contemplated suicide. What held me back was the idea that no one, absolutely no one, would be moved by my death, that I would be even more alone in death than in life.

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We do not judge the people we love.

Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.

The worst part about being lied to is knowing you werent worth the truth

Your judgement judges you and defines you.

I had found my religion: nothing seemed more important to me than a book. I saw the library as a temple.

Sometimes the truth is too simple for intellectuals.

What do we mean by saying that existence precedes essence? We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world-and defines himself afterward.

God is dead. Let us not understand by this that he does not exist or even that he no longer exists. He is dead. He spoke to us and is silent. We no longer have anything but his cadaver. Perhaps he slipped out of the world, somewhere else like the soul of a dead man. Perhaps he was only a dream.

I am alone in the midst of these happy, reasonable voices. All these creatures spend their time explaining, realizing happily that they agree with each other. In Heaven's name, why is it so important to think the same things all together.

There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.

I think of death only with tranquility, as an end. I refuse to let death hamper life. Death must enter life only to define it.

Hell is other people at breakfast.

Man is what he wills himself to be.

Man is fully responsible for his nature and his choices.

In wanting freedom we discover that it depends entirely on the freedom of others, and that the freedom of others depends on ours. I am obliged to want others to have freedom at the same time that I want my own freedom. I can take freedom as my goal only if I take that of others as a goal as well.

He was free, free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, free to accept, free to refuse, free to equivocate; to marry, to give up the game, to drag this death weight about with him for years to come. He could do what he liked, no one had the right to advise him, there would be for him no Good or Evil unless he thought them into being.

We must act out passion before we can feel it.

It's quite an undertaking to start loving somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment right at the start where you have to jump across an abyss: if you think about it you don't do it.

Imagination is not an empirical or superadded power of consciousness, it is the whole of consciousness as it realizes its freedom.

The best work is not what is most difficult for you; it is what you do best.

I am going to outlive myself. Eat, sleep, sleep, eat. Exist slowly, softly, like these trees, like a puddle of water, like the red bench in the streetcar.

The aim of language is to communicate, to impart to others the results one has obtained. As I talk, I reveal the situation...I reveal it to myself and to others in order to change it.

Politics is a science. You can demonstrate that you are right and that others are wrong.

Fascism is not defined by the number of its victims, but by the way it kills them.

In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.

I had spent my time counterfeiting eternity.

Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.

There are two ways of destroying a people. Either condemn them en bloc or force them to repudiate the leaders they adopted. The second is the worse.

I respect orders but I respect myself too and I do not obey foolish rules made especially to humiliate me.

Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.

If you want to deserve Hell, you need only stay in bed. The world is iniquity; if you accept it, you are an accomplice, if you change it you are an executioner.

I do not believe in God; his existence has been disproved by Science. But in the concentration camp, I learned to believe in men.

To choose not to choose is still to act.

We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are - that is the fact.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist.

The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope, without illusions and without resignation either. He stares at death with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He experiences the “divine irresponsibility” of the condemned man.

That’s what existence means: draining one’s own self dry without the sense of thirst.

The individual's duty is to do what he wants to do, to think whatever he likes, to be accountable to no one but himself, to challenge every idea and every person.

I want to leave, to go somewhere where I should be really in my place, where I would fit in . . . but my place is nowhere; I am unwanted.

Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete.

I exist. It is soft, so soft, so slow. And light: it seems as though it suspends in the air. It moves.

I never could bear the idea of anyone's expecting something from me. It always made me want to do just the opposite.

What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be.

My thought is me: that's why I can't stop. I exist because I think… and I can't stop myself from thinking. At this very moment - it's frightful - if I exist, it is because I am horrified at existing. I am the one who pulls myself from the nothingness to which I aspire.

It’s the well-behaved children that make the most formidable revolutionaries. They don’t say a word, they don’t hide under the table, they eat only one piece of chocolate at a time. But later on, they make society pay dearly.

Commitment is an act, not a word.

I do not think therefore I am a moustache

In love, one and one are one.

I can always choose, but I ought to know that if I do not choose, I am still choosing.

I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.

Nothing happens while you live. The scenery changes, people come in and go out, that's all. There are no beginnings. Days are tacked on to days without rhyme or reason, an interminable, monotonous addition.

We make our own hell out of the people around us.

Philosophy which does not help to illuminate the process of the liberation of the oppressed should be rejected.

All I can do is make the best of what I am, become accustomed to it, evaluate the possibilities, and take advantage of them the best I can.

Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have.

I suppose it is out of laziness that the world is the same day after day. Today it seemed to want to change. And then anything, anything could happen.

Because we can imagine, we are free.

A kiss without a moustache, they said then, is like an egg without salt; I will add to it: and it is like Good without Evil.

If I became a philosopher, if I have so keenly sought this fame for which I'm still waiting, it's all been to seduce women basically.

Life begins on the other side of despair.

Genius is what a man invents when he is looking for a way out.

Acting is a question of absorbing other people's personalities and adding some of your own experience.

If you seek authenticity for authenticity's sake you are no longer authentic.

Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think.

Words are loaded pistols.

Smooth and smiling faces everywhere, but ruin in their eyes.

I confused things with their names: that is belief.

When rich people fight wars with one another, poor people are the ones to die.

I will not be modest. Humble, as much as you like, but not modest. Modesty is the virtue of the lukewarm.

It disturbs me no more to find men base, unjust, or selfish than to see apes mischievous, wolves savage, or the vulture ravenous.

People who live in society have learnt how to see themselves, in mirrors, as they appear to their friends. I have no friends: is that why my flesh is so naked?

I tell you in truth: all men are Prophets or else God does not exist.

Death is a continuation of my life without me.

Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.

Several hours or several years make no difference once you have lost eternity.

There are two kinds of existentialist; first, those who are Christian...and on the other hand the atheistic existentialists, among whom. I class myself. What they have in common is that they think that existence precedes essence, or, if you prefer, that subjectivity must be the turning point.

Nothingness haunts Being.

Violence is good for those who have nothing to lose.

Naturally, in the course of my life I have made lots of mistakes, large and small, for one reason or another, but at the heart of it all, every time I made a mistake it was because I was not radical enough.

One of the chief motives of artistic creation is certainly the need of feeling that we are essential in relationship to the world.

What is boredom? It is when there is simultaneously too much and not enough.

Once freedom lights its beacon in man's heart, the gods are powerless against him.

In a word, man must create his own essence: it is in throwing himself into the world, suffering there, struggling there, that he gradually defines himself.

I'd come to realize that all our troubles spring from our failure to use plain, clear-cut language.

Every human endeavor, however singular it seems, involves the whole human race.

It is only in our decisions that we are important.

Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself.

I have no need for good souls: an accomplice is what I wanted.

A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost.

Man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, in other respect is free; because, once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. The Existentialist does not believe in the power of passion. He will never agree that a sweeping passion is a ravaging torrent which fatally leads a man to certain acts and is therefore an excuse. He thinks that man is responsible for his passion.

Why do you keep maintaining your ideas are right if you can't prove them?

Ideas come in pairs and they contradict one another; their opposition is the principal engine of reflection.

Consciousness is a being the nature of which is to be conscious of the nothingness of its being.

God is absence. God is the solitude of man.

Once we know and are aware, we are responsible for our action and our inaction. We can do something about it or ignore it. Either way, we are still responsible.

What the painter adds to the canvas are the days of his life. The adventure of living, hurtling toward death.

Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat.

When she is alone in the rooms I hear her humming to keep herself from thinking.

Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.

When we love animals and children too much, we love them at the expense of men.

To know what life is worth you have to risk it once in a while.

We are possessed by the things we possess. When I like an object, I always give it to someone. It isn't generosity-it's only because I want others to be enslaved by objects, not me.

There are two types of poor people, those who are poor together and those who are poor alone. The first are the true poor, the others are rich people out of luck.

The more one is absorbed in fighting evil, the less one is tempted to place the good in question.

I have no religion, but if I were to choose one, it would be that of Shariati's.

As far as men go, it is not what they are that interests me, but what they can become.

Two people can form a community by excluding a third.

Life gave me everything I asked. If all I asked was not a great deal, that's my problem!

We are now in a position to understand the anti-Semite. He is a man who is afraid. Not of the Jews, to be sure, but of himself, of his own consciousness, of his liberty, of his instincts, of his responsibilities, of solitariness, of change, of society, and of the world of everything except the Jews.

I hate victims who respect their executioners.

Introspection is always retrospection

The poor don't know that their function in life is to exercise our generosity.

It is meaningless that we are born, it is meaningless that we die.

Being is. Being is in-itself. Being is what it is.

I am no longer sure of anything. If I satiate my desires, I sin but I deliver myself from them; if I refuse to satisfy them, they infect the whole soul.

You must be afraid, my son. That is how one becomes an honest citizen.

One should commit no stupidity twice, the variety of choice is, in the end, large enough.

It is disgusting -- Why must we have bodies?

There is no reality except in action.

The viable jewels of life remain untouched when man forgets his vocation of searching for the truth of his existence.

Better to have beasts that let themselves be killed than men who run away.

I found the human heart empty and insipid everywhere except in books.

To believe is to know you believe, and to know you believe is not to believe.

How can I, who was not able to retain my own past, hope to save that of another?

Man is condemned to be free.

Everything comes to us from others. To Be is to belong to someone.

― Jean-Paul Sartre Quotes

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Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

 
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