Jean-Paul Sartre: Man is Condemned to Be Free

“What is important is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us.”

By Balthazar Malevolent

Jean-Paul Sartre: Man is Condemned to Be Free

The 1964 Nobel Prize winner and intellectual idol of the forties and fifties, Sartre managed to turn the material of his own life into philosophy.

Whether writer or thinker or probably both at the same time, Sartre expressed his ideas in various forms and registers: novels, plays, essays, short stories, notes and oral pleadings.

Sartre's legacy is vast, but there is a single problem at the centre of his philosophy, the problem of freedom and existence of man in the world, his responsibility for his own life.

Briefly and succinctly he expressed this problem in words:

“What is important is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

“Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions

“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.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

“There is no human nature, since there is no god to conceive it.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions

“Still, somewhere in the depths of ourselves we all harbor an ashamed, unsatisfied melancholy that quietly awaits a funeral.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, The Reprieve

“Perhaps it is impossible to understand one's own face. Or perhaps it is because I am a single man? People who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. I have no friends. Is that why my flesh is so naked?”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

“Existentialism's first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions

“You have to talk to make sure you're alive.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit and Three Other Plays

“There is no human nature, since there is no god to conceive it.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions

“Every man ought to say to himself, "Am I really the kind of man who has the right to act in such a way that humanity might guide itself by my actions?”

― Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions

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