Jean-Paul Sartre’s 90 best quotes
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a French philosopher and writer famous for his ideas on existentialism and humanist Marxism.
Sartre’s particular way of seeing life and his ideas on humanist Marxism make this writer a very controversial person of the first half of the 20th century. He was married to the also philosopher, author and feminist Simone de Beauvoir.
Great sentences by Jean-Paul Sartre
We should all (if not already) know a little more about this fantastic figure, what were Jean-Paul Sartre’s best phrases? Here they are
1. If you feel lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.
How we relate to ourselves is a very important thing in life.
2. Today we know how to do everything except live.
Finding out what life we want to lead and how to get it is something we all pursue in life.
3. It is up to you alone to give meaning to your life.
Finding a purpose for living is something that only concerns us.
4. In order to know what our life is worth, it is not superfluous to risk it from time to time.
When we are aware of how easy it is to lose your life, we place much more value on it.
5. We are only our own decisions.
The decisions we make are what moves us forward or backward on the path of life.
6. Life begins on the other side of despair.
It is in the most difficult situations that we find ourselves.
7. There is no reality except in action.
Actions are what is totally real in life, words can be true or not.
8. Man is condemned to be free, since once in the world, he is responsible for all his actions.
What we each do with our own life depends only on us, freedom is given by our acts and thoughts.
9. Life is nothing but a useless passion.
Knowing how to approach life in a positive way depends only on ourselves. Do we really want to be happy?
10. The words are loaded guns.
With our words we can do a lot of harm to the people we live with, we can demolish their morals or enhance them with them.
11. In love, one and one equals one.
When we form a couple we become one individual within society, we act and live in a kind of symbiosis seeking to realize the same common purpose.
12. Apparently, everything I know about my life I’ve learned from books.
Books are a very powerful source of knowledge that we all should and can take advantage of.
13. My love, you are not “one thing in my life,” not even the most important thing, for my life no longer belongs to me, for my life is you.
A very romantic phrase to convey to our loved one the importance he has for us.
14. It’s more dangerous to be a good journalist than a bad killer.
Some professions put their lives much more at risk than others, Sartre had this peculiar way of seeing journalism.
15. Commitment is an act, not a word.
To demonstrate our commitment to someone we must do it with our actions, not with our words.
16. It may be unavoidable. We may actually have to choose between being nothing and pretending to be what we are.
We must know ourselves and what we are looking for in life, so that we can begin the journey towards our personal goals.
17. Do you think I count the days? There’s only one day left, one that always repeats itself. It is given to us at dawn and taken away at dusk.
We will never know what will happen tomorrow, we must not anticipate events everything can happen.
18. Once freedom has illuminated the heart of man, the gods have no power over him.
For Jean-Paul Sartre, religion was something he actively disagreed with.
19. It is the duty of every individual to do what he wants to do, to think what he wants to think, to answer to no one but himself, and to question every idea and every individual.
We must have our own ideas and be free to think what we choose to think for ourselves.
20. Existence is prior to essence, and governs over it.
A quote that leads us to think about our own existence and our own personal essence, first I think, then I exist.
21. When you understand the details of victory, it is difficult to distinguish it from defeat.
In many occasions to reach the desired victory we will suffer losses from which we will never recover.
22. Your judgment, it judges and defines you.
Our personal judgment communicates to others what our principles and loyalties are.
23. Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you.
We usually use our free time to enjoy what is most familiar to us.
24. Like all dreamers, I confused disappointment with truth.
Even if we are disappointed, that does not mean it is the only truth, the truth can be seen in many different ways, even in a way that is not true.
25. I will smile, and my smile will penetrate your pupils. And God knows what it will become.
We must seek our personal happiness in everything we do in life.
26. When the rich embark on a war, it is the poor who die.
Social classes make a crucial difference in how people live their own lives, in an equitable world, this should not happen.
27. Why is it so important that we all agree?
We can all think in a totally different way and we should not enter into any kind of conflict, we should respect each other.
28. Three o’clock is always too late or too early for what you want to do.
We must take advantage of every minute of our lives, it is always a good time to do what we really want to do.
29. Life has no meaning a priori. The meaning of your life depends on you, and the value of your life is nothing but the meaning you choose.
It is up to each of us to give our life the meaning we choose for it.
30. Soft, smiling faces everywhere, but doom in their eyes.
People don’t usually show their true intentions in public.
31. I guess it’s laziness that makes the world the same day after day.
We should all set out what goals we want to achieve in life, and then try to achieve them.
32. Only the one who is not moving forward has time to bother.
On many occasions, the biggest criticisms we receive are covered by a veil of anonymity.
33. I exist, that’s all. And I find it extremely unpleasant.
It is up to us as our own life, we must face it with a positive attitude.
34. Existence is an imperfection.
The mere fact that it already exists is a miracle, the probability of life in the universe is very remote.
35. People who live in society have learned to see themselves in mirrors as they are seen by their friends. I have no friends, is that why I look so naked?
The people around us can, with their comments, change the opinion we have of ourselves.
36. Nothing happens while we live. The scenario changes, people come and go. That’s it.
Time can sometimes seem a little tedious, life moves inexorably towards our own decline.
37. At the moment of death, our life is always complete.
Everything that we have not done before our own death we can never do now.
38. The consciousness that says “I exist” is not the consciousness that thinks.
To exist in a true way we must first think, we must not get carried away by the bustle of society.
39. Generosity is nothing more than the desire to possess. Everything that is abandoned, everything that is given, is enjoyed much more by giving it away. To give is to enjoy possessively that which is given.
No doubt Jean-Paul Sartre had a very particular view on generosity, whether we share it or not will depend on us.
40. No finite term has meaning without an infinite point of reference.
In fact, just as the term finite exists, for it to exist we must also contemplate the idea of infinity.
41. You are getting closer to becoming the corpse you will be and yet I still love you.
Over the years, our love for the person we truly love will never cease to exist.
42. Starting to love someone is like creating a great company. You have to have energy, generosity and blindness. There may even be a moment at the beginning when you have to jump across an abyss and if you think about it too much, you don’t.
Personal relationships can be very complicated and when starting one, many times we must make concessions to our partner.
43. Man can do nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself. Man is alone, abandoned on earth, in the midst of his infinite responsibilities and without help.
In this quotation, Sartre reveals his non-belief in religions and his authentic faith in the tangible.
44. It is only the acts that decide what has been wanted.
Our actions will guide us through life, with them we will decide our future.
45. Consciousness can always transcend the existing one, not towards its being, but towards the meaning of this being.
With consciousness, we people make contact with our own existence; by reasoning we can realize that we really exist.
46. Therefore, there is no point in thinking about complaining, because there is nothing strange that has taken charge of deciding what we feel, what we live or what we are.
How we face our lives is up to us and complaining won’t solve anything.
47. So this is the closest thing to hell. I never would have guessed. Remember all they told us about the torture chambers, the fire and the brimstone? They’re just old stories! No need to be a fan of red hot, hell is other people!
With our actions we can turn the world into a real hell, people are capable of the best and the worst.
48. I will answer the question that so mortified you: my love, you are not only “one thing in my life,” for my life no longer belongs to me. Now you, you are always me.
With love we people consecrate our lives to other people, our happiness will be the happiness of both and our sorrow will be the sorrow of both.
49. With the passage of time, we are transformed into a freedom that chooses, but only chooses to be free. For that reason, we are condemned to freedom.
Freedom is an inalienable right of all people and we must fight to ensure that this is always the case.
50. I felt so terribly lonely that I considered suicide. What stopped me from doing it was the idea that absolutely no one would regret my death, and that in the end, I would be even more alone in death than in life itself.
With suicide many people try to harm others, but if no one cares about your life, that harm will never be done and in that case the suicide no longer makes sense.
51. In the end, I am the architect of my own being, my own character and destiny. It is no use pretending what might have been, for I am what I have made, and nothing more.
The life we live depends on us, our actions and our non-actions will dictate who we are.
52. It helps others to understand that reality does count and that dreams, expectations and hopes only serve to define a man as a broken dream.
We must all try to fulfill our dreams, for the purpose of these is their fulfillment.
53. A flame is able to flame in your heart. That is why I feel that when I am alone, I go out.
Loneliness is something that can do us a lot of emotional damage, people are made to live in society.
54. For me there are no Mondays or Sundays: there are only days that pass in disorder and then we observe a sudden flash like this.
No matter what day of the week we are, we can really live our life as we wish to live it.
55. There is a universe behind and in front of a book. You know that the end is near when you close the last book and ask yourself: What’s next?
Books are like windows to a parallel universe that when we finish it we wish to continue to know about it.
56. The main purpose of language is to communicate in order to share with others the results that have been achieved.
Language is a gift that human beings have and that allows them to carry out extremely complicated tasks.
57. I am always ready for sudden transformations because only after a wonderful day can a true revolution take place.
Those things that we experience change and shape us in such a way that we constantly evolve.
58. Man exists, he appears, and only later is he able to define himself, because in the beginning, man is nothing, only later will he succeed in being something, and he is the one who will take care of having done what he will do.
Our acts and thoughts are what define us as people, before them our vital canvas is blank.
59. Anything else would be better than this anguish that I carry in my mind, this pain that bites and never hurts enough.
We all go through very hard or difficult emotional times and how we deal with them is up to us.
60. When an adventure happens to me, I ask myself what is wrong with myself and why I am there, many times I end up as happy as the hero of a novel.
Sometimes we experience very exciting moments in our lives that we will probably always remember.
61. I want you to know it’s a great job to start loving someone. You have to have character, kindness and also blindness. There is even a time when you have to jump over a cliff and if you think about it too much, you end up not doing it.
62. The world could very well exist without literature, it is even better without man.
People are not necessary for the functioning of the world, the planet could even benefit from our disappearance.
63. Violence is not a means to an end, but a voluntary choice to reach the end, by any means.
There are times when men decide to use violence to achieve their goals at all costs.
64. The body is not united to the consciousness; it is merely a psychological perception.
A very controversial quote from Jean Paul Sartre, could the body live without consciousness?
65. You can never go backwards more than a disc can go backwards. What is the reason for all this? Well, after much analysis, I realize that it has led me to this moment.
We can’t turn back time, it only flows in one direction. Everything we do in life will take us back to the moment we are.
66. At that moment, she smiled and said to me with great emotion: “Shine like a tiny diamond” and try to become an eternal being.
The support we receive from those close to us helps us to continue on our personal path.
67. Many times, this is the reason that deceives people: The man who is able to tell stories can see everything that happens to him through them and tries to live his own life as if he were telling a story. But what you really have to do is to choose: either you live or you tell.
To make the most of our lives one hundred percent we must fight to achieve our goals, not fantasize about them being realized one day as if by magic.
68. You can shut your mouth, cut out your tongue, but can you avoid existing? The truth is that you can never stop your thoughts.
Silencing our thoughts is very complicated, meditation bases its main idea on that moment of peace of mind.
69. Many men know, in fact, that the aim of their search is in fact “being,” and to the extent that they possess this knowledge, they avoid appropriating things for themselves and try to realize the symbolic appropriation of the “being-in-itself” of things.
A very interesting quote about our own perception of who we are or who we want to be.
70. It’s a deep bore, very deep. The truth is that the deep heart of existence is the same thing I’m made of.
A very poetic quote in which Jean-Paul Sartre meditates on his own existence.
71. What people who dedicate their lives to the university and to research should learn is to put all their effort into learning all the universal techniques for the service of the mass society.
We should all strive for the greatest common good, our happiness depends largely on the happiness of others.
72. I am the only person through my thoughts who departs from the nothingness to which I aspire.
As if it were a reflex action, our thoughts will not stop flowing no matter how hard we try to stop them.
73. I find myself alone in the midst of happy and reasonable voices. All those people waste their time explaining and reaffirming that they agree with each other. I ask myself: Why is it so important to think the same things all together?
Unconsciously we all seek the approval of others, and so we modify our thoughts to be more akin to those around us.
74. Politics is a science. With it you can prove that you are right and others are wrong.
No one has absolute reason, we all have different points of view provided by our personal experiences and ways of being.
75. There are two kinds of poor: those who are poor together and those who are poor alone. The former are the truly poor, while the latter are rich people who have had no luck.
No matter how much money we have, we can feel very poor, because poverty is not only material, it can also be spiritual.
76. We don’t judge the people we love.
When we love someone this one seems perfect as it is.
77. Man is not so much the sum of what he has, but rather the sum of what he does not have; of what he might have.
To really know a man we must know his personal shortcomings and motivations.
78. There is no principle of anything. The days pile up behind each other without order or concert. An endless and monotonous addition of days.
The days go by one after another and giving them a meaning is up to us, otherwise they will all seem the same as before.
79. Man is condemned to be free because he did not create himself, but was placed in this world.
Living beings are free by nature, the concept of freedom is a totally human concept. We humans are the only beings who deprive another living being of its freedom.
80. Not being tied to my own words makes my thoughts blurry most of the time. That’s why I forget them almost immediately.
When we have very long conversations or write for a long time, we can forget much of what we have talked about or written.
81. We do not know what we want, and yet we are responsible for what we are. That is the truth.
It’s up to us to find out what we want in life and how we want to get there.
82. I can’t deny that God doesn’t exist. But neither can I forget that my whole existence cries out for a god.
No one can correctly verify whether God exists or not, both options are on the table.
83. The most unpleasant thing about evil is that it gets you used to it.
People can eventually become immune to the emotions of others, which is why the greatest atrocities in history have been carried out with the approval of many people.
84. In wanting freedom, we discover that it depends entirely on the freedom of others.
In order to be entirely free, those around us must be free as well.
85. Forget you? How immature! I feel you in my bones. Your silence deafens me.
There are certain people in our lives that we can never forget, because they have marked us with their actions and emotions.
86. A man cannot do anything of value until he understands that he cannot count on anyone but himself.
Our greatest support or detractor will always be ourselves, we must know ourselves and use all our qualities.
87. When someone has expected something from me, I have always wanted to do just the opposite.
We should expect the same from others as we would do in their situation, so we will be honest with ourselves.
88. Man is alone, abandoned on earth, in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, without any other objective than that which he sets for himself.
How we live our lives depends only on us, we can be something positive for others or not, everything depends on what we want to do.
89. I have been able to ascertain that the human heart is empty and tasteless everywhere except in books.
Reading is a very positive habit that we should practice and encourage, with it we can grow a lot on a personal and intellectual level.
90. I hate victims who respect their executioners.
When we respect our executioners we give them to understand that we are above their ideas and acts, that our spiritual freedom can never be taken away from us.