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Jean-Paul Sartre Quotes About Existentialism

After the devastation of World War II, Jean-Paul Sartre inspired a movement of existential and intellectual philosophy. This is our collection of some of the best Jean-Paul Sartre quotes.

Jean-Paul Sartre was born in Paris just after the turn of the 20th century, in 1905. Sartre lost his father at an early age and grew up in Paris with his mother. Sartre would grow to become a writer of critical acclaim and a leading voice in the world of existential philosophy.

Sartre did not believe in marriage, but he did hold a life-long open relationship and partnership with fellow writer, philosopher, and feminist Simone de Beauvoir (check out our Simone de Beauvoir quotes here).

Sartre served for the allies in World War II and was captured and imprisoned for a year while serving. Throughout his lifetime, he was offered many awards for his writing and philosophy, but he turned most of them down.

We hope you are inspired by these Jean-Paul Sartre quotes.

Jean-Paul Sartre quotes about life

1. “Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

2. “Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

3. “Existence precedes and rules essence.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

4. “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.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

5. “For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

6. “We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are – that is the fact.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

7. “Life begins on the other side of despair.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

8. “Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

9. “Better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

10. “Being is. Being is in-itself. Being is what it is.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre quotes about humanity

11. “I do not believe in God; his existence has been disproved by Science. But in the concentration camp, I learned to believe in men.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

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12. “Hell is other people.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

13. “Man is fully responsible for his nature and his choices.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

14. “You must be afraid, my son. That is how one becomes an honest citizen.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

15. “All human actions are equivalent and all are on principle doomed to failure.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

16. “Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

17. “Justice is a human issue, and I do not need a god to teach it to me.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

18. “As far as men go, it is not what they are that interests me, but what they can become.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

19. “We do not judge the people we love.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

Wise Jean-Paul Sartre quotes

20. “Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

21. “If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

22. “It is only in our decisions that we are important.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

23. “Words are loaded pistols.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

24. “Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

25. “Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

26. “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

27. “A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

28. “I am no longer sure of anything.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

29. “If literature isn’t everything, it’s not worth a single hour of someone’s trouble.” — Jean-Paul Sartre
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to check out our collection of literature quotes to share with your favorite bookworm.

30. “All that I know about my life, it seems, I have learned in books.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre quotes on freedom, war, and politics

31. “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

32. “When rich people fight wars with one another, poor people are the ones to die.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

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33. “The poor don’t know that their function in life is to exercise our generosity.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

34. “Total war is no longer war waged by all members of one national community against all those of another. It is total… because it may well involve the whole world.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

35. “Fascism is not defined by the number of its victims, but by the way it kills them.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

36. “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

37. “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.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

Thought-provoking Jean-Paul Sartre quotes

38. “Fear? If I have gained anything by damning myself, it is that I no longer have anything to fear.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

39. “Acting is happy agony.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

40. “Acting is a question of absorbing other people’s personalities and adding some of your own experience.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

41. “Ah! yes, I know: those who see me rarely trust my word: I must look too intelligent to keep it.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

42. “If I satiate my desires, I sin but I deliver myself from them; if I refuse to satisfy them, they infect the whole soul.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

43. “If a victory is told in detail, one can no longer distinguish it from a defeat.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

44. “I tell you in truth: all men are Prophets or else God does not exist.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

45. “I say a murder is abstract. You pull the trigger and after that, you do not understand anything that happens.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

46. “I have no need for good souls: an accomplice is what I wanted.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

47. “God is absence. God is the solitude of man.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

48. “That God does not exist, I cannot deny, That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

49. “We must act out passion before we can feel it.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

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50. “Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

More Jean-Paul Sartre quotes

51. “Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

52. “What is life but an unpleasant interruption to a peaceful nonexistence?” – Jean-Paul Sartre

53. “In love, one and one are one.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

54. “The best work is not what is most difficult for you; it is what you do best.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

55. “Consciousness is a being the nature of which is to be conscious of the nothingness of its being.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

56. “I can always choose, but I ought to know that if I do not choose, I am still choosing.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

57. “The worst part about being lied to is knowing you weren’t worth the truth.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

58. “There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

59. “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.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

60. “To know what life is worth you have to risk it once in a while.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

Do you ever get lost in existential thought?

Existentialism is the philosophical theory that humans are entirely free and determine their own fate through acts of free-will.

Existentialism is often associated with the existential crisis. When one has an existential crisis, they are filled with dread at the thought that nothing matters and their lives have no purpose.

In following the theory of existentialism, it can be easy to fall into an existential crisis, but the philosophy is not as bleak as it seems.

Existentialism theorizes that there is no external purpose or meaning given to humans upon existence, but rather, that the purpose you create for your life is what gives it meaning.

So the next time you are feeling lost on an existential train of thought, think of these Jean-Paul Sartre quotes and learn to find your own purpose in your life.

Did you enjoy these Jean-Paul Sartre quotes and sayings? Which quote was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Sckylar Gibby-Brown
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  1. Brian Fenelon

    June 23, 2021 at 1:44 PM

    Dear Sckylar,
    I love all Sartre quotes, but particularly this one: “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” (#36)
    It starts with the declaration of the inevitability of our freedom, however, whether we like it or not, our freedom is tempered by political, social, religious and cultural mores. In the second phase he takes up the ‘thrownness’ into world at our birth – an idea spoken of extensively by Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). If you talk freedom (as Sartre does), it follows one must be responsible for one’s actions. He argues that your actions should be authentic.

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