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190 Jean-Paul Sartre Quotes That’ll Enlighten You

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1. “We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are—that is the fact. ”

2. “Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”

3. “When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.”

4. “You are your life, and nothing else.”

5. “We are our choices.”

6. “If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”

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

8. “Man is condemned to be free because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give life a meaning.”

9. “Do you think that I count the days? There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.”

10. “Words are loaded pistols.”

11. “Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.”

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

13. “Hell is other people!”

14. “Existence precedes and rules essence.” 

15. “For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it.”

16. “Being is. Being is in itself. Being is what it is.”

17. “The best work is not what is most difficult for you—it is what you do best.”

18. “It is only in our decisions that we are important.”

19. “A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost.”

20. “You must be afraid, my . That is how one becomes an honest citizen.”

21. “We do not judge the people we love.”

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

23. “The poor don’t know that their function in life is to exercise our generosity.”

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

25. “Commitment is an act, not a word.”

26. “Man is fully responsible for his nature and his choices.”

27. “All human actions are equivalent and all are on principle doomed to failure.”

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

29. “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.”

30. “Existence is an imperfection.”

31. “My thoughts are 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.”

32. “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.”

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

34. “Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.”

35. “Man is what he wills himself to be.”

36. “Nothingness haunts being.”

37. “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.”

38. “Your judgement judges you and defines you.”

39. “Existence is not something which lets itself be thought of from a distance. It must invade you suddenly, master you, weigh heavily on your heart like a great motionless beast or else there is nothing at all.”

40. “Perhaps it’s inevitable, perhaps one has to choose between being nothing at all and impersonating what one is.”

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

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

43. “You continually force the truth because you’re always looking for something.”

44. “Life has no meaning, the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”

45. “Now I know things are entirely what they appear to be—and behind them, there is nothing.”

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

47. “Life is a useless passion.”

48. “Something is beginning in order to end—adventure does not let itself be drawn out. It only makes sense when dead.”

49. “Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.”

50. “Life begins on the other side of despair.”

51. “But everything changes when you tell about life. It’s a change no one notices—the proof is that people talk about true stories. As if there could possibly be true stories—things happen one way and we tell about them in the opposite sense.”

52. “The worst part about being lied to is knowing you weren’t worth the truth.”

53. “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.”

54. “One could only damage oneself through the harm one did to others. One could never get directly at oneself.”

55. “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.”

56. “That’s what existence means—draining one’s own self dry without the sense of thirst.”

57. “Emotion is first of all and in principle an accident.”

58. “We must act out our passion before we can feel it.”

59. “Better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.”

60. “It is certain that we cannot escape anguish, for we are anguish.”

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

62. “Better a good journalist than a poor assassin.”

63. “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”

64. “Get this into your head. If violence were only a thing of the future, if exploitation and oppression never existed on earth, perhaps displays of nonviolence might relieve the conflict. But if the entire regime, even your nonviolent thoughts, is governed by a thousand-year old oppression, your passiveness serves no other purpose but to put you on the side of the oppressors.”

65. “Once freedom lights its beacon in man’s heart, the gods are powerless against him.”

66. “A human being who wakened in the morning with a queasy stomach, with fifteen hours to kill before next bedtime, had not much use for freedom.”

67. “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.”

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

69. “It isn’t freedom from. It’s freedom to.”

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

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

72. “I hate victims who respect their executioners.”

73. “That God does not exist, I cannot deny. That my whole being cries out for God, I cannot forget.”

74. “One cannot become a saint when one works 16 hours a day.”

75. “All men are prophets or else God does not exist.”

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

77. “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself. He discovers forthwith, that he is without excuse.”

78. “I have no need for good souls. An accomplice is what I wanted.”

79. “We are in hell, my dear, there is never a mistake and people are not damned for nothing.”

80. “I do not believe in God. His existence has been disproved by Science. But in the concentration camp, I learned to believe in men.”

81. “What do I care about Jupiter? Justice is a human issue, and I do not need a god to teach it to me.”

82. “She believed in nothing. Only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist.”

83. “God is absence. God is the solitude of man.”

84. “One always dies too soon—or too late. And yet one’s whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up.”

85. “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.”

86. “I was on the way for eternity.”

87. “I said to myself, ‘I want to die decently.’”

88. “Death is a continuation of my life without me.”

89. “He is always becoming, and if it were not for the contingency of death, he would never end.”

90. “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.”

91. “I am alone in this white, garden-rimmed street, alone and free. But this freedom is rather like death.”

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

93. “The recruit who reports for active duty at the beginning of the war can in some instances be afraid of death, but more often he is ‘afraid of being afraid’—that is, he is filled with anguish before himself.”

94. “It’s quite an undertaking to start loving somebody. You have to have energy, , and 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.”

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

96. “In love, one and one are one.”

97. “It answers the question that was tormenting you. My love, you are not ‘one thing in my life’—not even the most important because my life no longer belongs to me because you are always me.”

98. “She suffers as a miser. She must be miserly with her pleasures, as well. I wonder if sometimes she doesn’t wish she were free of this monotonous sorrow, of these mutterings which start as soon as she stops singing, if she doesn’t wish to suffer once and for all, to drown herself in despair. In any case, it would be impossible for her. She is bound.”

99. “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.”

100. “It’s strange. I felt less lonely when I didn’t know you.”

101. “Tonight, I love you in a way that you have not known in me. I am neither worn down by travels nor wrapped up in the desire for your presence. I am mastering my love for you and turning it inwards as a constituent element of myself. “

102. “I am a mere breath of air—a formless thought that thinks of you.”

103. “Love or hatred calls for self-surrender. He cuts a fine figure, the warm-blooded, prosperous man, solidly entrenched in his well-being, who one fine day surrenders all to love—or to hatred himself, his house, his land, his memories.”

104. “Neither sex, without some fertilization of the complimentary characters of the other, is capable of the highest reaches of human endeavor.”

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

106. “But I must finally realize that I am subject to these sudden transformations. The thing is that I rarely think—a crowd of small metamorphoses accumulate in me without my noticing it, and then, one fine day, a veritable revolution takes place.”

107. “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.”

108. “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. ”

109. “I wanted my own words. But the ones I use have been dragged through I don’t know how many consciences.”

110. “It is therefore senseless to think of complaining since nothing foreign has decided what we feel, what we live, or what we are.”

111. “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.”

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

113. “I am myself and I am here.”

114. “A pale reflection of myself wavers in my consciousness and suddenly the ‘I’ pales, pales, and fades out.”

115. “There were days when you peered into yourself, into the secret places of your heart, and what you saw there made you faint with horror. And then, the next day, you didn’t know what to make of it, you couldn’t interpret the horror you had glimpsed the day before. Yes, you know what evil costs.”

116. “I am not asking for sensational revelations, but I would like to sense the meaning of that minute, to feel it’s urgency.”

117. “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.”

118. “I am beginning to believe that nothing can ever be proved. These are honest hypotheses which take the facts into account, but I sense so definitely that they come from me, and that they are simply a way of unifying my own knowledge. “

119. “People are like dice. We throw ourselves in the direction of our own choosing.”

120. “Man is 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.”

121. “A man rarely feels like laughing alone.”

122. “This is what I thought for the most banal event to become an adventure, you must begin to recount it. This is what fools people—a man is always a teller of tales, he sees everything that happens to him through them, and he tries to live his own life as if he were telling a story. But you have to choose—live or tell.”

123. “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?”

124. “You and me are real people, operating in a real world. We are not figments of each other’s imagination. I am the architect of my own self, my own character and destiny. It is no use whingeing about what I might have been, I am the things I have done and nothing more. We are all free, completely free. We can each do any damn thing we want. Which is more than most of us dare to imagine.”

125. “In football, everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.”

126. “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.”

127. “A madman’s ravings are absurd in relation to the situation in which he finds himself, but not in relation to his madness.”

128. “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.”

129. “I marvel at these young people—drinking their coffee, they tell clear, plausible stories. If they are asked what they did yesterday, they aren’t embarrassed. They bring you up to date in a few words. If I were in their place, I’d fall all over myself.”

130. “It’s just what people do when they’re getting old, when they’re sick of themselves and their life—they think of money and take care of themselves.”

131. “Generosity is nothing else than a craze to possess. All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives.”

132. “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.”

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

134. “Like all dreamers I confuse disenchantment with truth.”

135. “The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”

136. “To think new thoughts you have to break the bones in your head.”

137. “I confused things with their names—that is belief.”

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

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

140. “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.”

141. “I distrust the incommunicable. It is the source of all violence.”

142. “Objects should not touch because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them. They are useful, nothing more. But they touch me, it is unbearable. I am afraid of being in contact with them as though they were living beasts.”

143. “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.”

144. “Time is too large, it can’t be filled up. Everything you plunge into it is stretched and disintegrates.”

145. “Thus it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone or is a leader of nations.”

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

147. “I know very well that I don’t want to do anything. To do something is to create existence—and there’s quite enough existence as it is.”

148. “Nothingness lies coiled in the heart of being like a worm.”

149. “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.”

150. “Through the lack of attaching myself to words, my thoughts remain nebulous most of the time. They sketch vague, pleasant shapes and then are swallowed up. I forget them almost immediately.”

151. “You must be like me. You must suffer in rhythm.”

152. “As for me, I am mean. That means that I need the suffering of others to exist, a flame—a flame in their hearts. When I am all alone, I am extinguished.”

153. “Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.”

154. “There is a universe behind and before him. And the day is approaching when closing the last book on the last shelf on the far left. He will say to himself, ‘Now what?’”

155. “I must be without remorse or regrets as I am without excuse from the instant of my upsurge into being.  I carry the weight of the world by myself alone without help, engaged in a world for which I bear the whole responsibility without being able, whatever I do, to tear myself away from this responsibility for an instant.”

156. “I’ve dropped out of their hearts like a little sparrow fallen from its nest. So gather me up, dear, fold me to your heart, and you’ll see how nice I can be.”

157. “The consciousness that says ‘I am’ is not the consciousness that thinks.”

158. “It is disgusting. Why must we have bodies?”

159. “Acting is a question of absorbing other people’s personalities and adding some of your own experience.”

160. “I can receive nothing more from these tragic solitudes than a little empty purity.”

161. “My passion was dead. For years, it had rolled over and submerged me, now I felt empty. But that wasn’t the worst—before me, posed with a sort of indolence, was a voluminous, insipid idea. I did not see clearly what it was, but it sickened me so much I couldn’t look at it.”

162. “It was odd, he thought, that a man could hate himself as though he were someone else.”

163. “All that I know about my life, it seems, I have learned in books.”

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

165. “Thoughts are the dullest things, duller than flesh. They stretch out and there’s no end to them and they leave a funny taste in the mouth.”

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

167. “I think that is the big danger in keeping a diary—you exaggerate everything.”

168. “He walked on in silence, the solitary sound of his footsteps echoing in his head, as in a deserted street, at dawn. His solitude was so complete, beneath a lovely sky as mellow and serene as a good conscience, amid that busy throng, that he was amazed at his own existence. He must be somebody else’s nightmare, and whoever it was would certainly awaken soon.”

169. “Why distort a past that can no longer stand up for itself?”

170.  “If literature isn’t everything, it’s not worth a single hour of someone’s trouble.”

171. “Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think.”

172. “Every age has its own poetry. In every age the circumstances of history choose a nation, a race, a class to take up the torch by creating situations that can be expressed or transcended only through poetry.”

173. “I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.”

174. “I can’t describe it, it’s like the Nausea and yet it’s just the opposite. At last an adventure happens to me and when I question myself I see that it happens that I am myself and that I am here. I am the one who splits in the night, I am as happy as the hero of a novel.”

175. “Fear? If I have gained anything by damning myself, it is that I no longer have anything to fear.”

176. “People. You must love people. Men are admirable. I want to vomit and suddenly, there it is—the Nausea.”

177. “The Nausea has not left me and I don’t believe it will leave me so soon, but I no longer have to bear it, it is no longer an illness or a passing fit—it is I.”

178. “The Nausea is not inside me. I feel it out there in the wall, in the suspenders, everywhere around me. It makes itself one with the café, I am the one who is within it.”

179. “We have so much difficulty imagining nothingness.” 

180.  “Acting is happy agony.”

181. “What is life but an unpleasant interruption to a peaceful nonexistence?”

182. “You’re lucky. I’m always conscious of myself—in my mind, painfully conscious.”

183. “The appearance of the other in the world corresponds therefore to a congealed sliding of the whole universe.”

184. “Remember you’re not alone. You’ve no right to inflict the sight of your fear on me.”

185. “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.”

186. “Ah! Yes, I know. Those who see me rarely trust my word. I must look too intelligent to keep it.”

187. “Then time started flowing again and the emptiness grew larger.” 

188. “No finite point has meaning without an infinite reference point.”

189. “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.”

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