The Most Magnificent Quotes by Jean-Paul Sartre

Last updated on Jan 8th, 2019

The Most Magnificent Quotes by Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (born June 21, 1905, Paris, France – died April 15, 1980, Paris), known as Jean-Paul Sartre, was a French philosopher, writer, and literary critic.

He was one of the key figures and proponent of existentialism and phenomenology, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy.

During his life, Sartre published several great works. Most significant are Being and Nothingness (L’Être et le Néant, 1943) and Existentialism and Humanism (L’existentialisme est un humanisme, 1946).

His work has influenced many disciplines, such as sociology and critical theory. He had a lifelong relationship with Simone de Beauvoir.

In 1964, Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but he declined it, saying that “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution”.


Hell is other people!No Exit (1944)


When the rich fight the rich, it is the poor who die.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


Man is condemned to be free: condemned, because he did not create himself, yet nonetheless free, because once cast into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.Existentialism is a Humanism (1946)


Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.Nausea (1938)


Politics is a science. You can demonstrate that you are right and that others are wrong.Dirty Hands (1948)


Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.Jean-Paul Sartre: Hated Conscience of His Century by John Gerassi (1989)


Human life begins on the far side of despair.The Flies (1943)


A man is what he wills himself to be.No Exit (1944)


There are two kinds of poor – those who are poor in company and those who are poor alone. The first are the real poor, the others are the rich who’ve been unlucky.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


The best work is not the work that takes the most sacrifices. It’s the work in which you can best succeed.Dirty Hands (1948)


Commitment is an act, not a word.Declaring to John Gerassi, in interview, New York Times Magazine (1971)


The worthy poor do not realize that their function is to exercise our generosity.The Words (1964)


Genius is what a man invents when he is looking for a way out.Nausea (1938)


Words are loaded pistols.What Is Literature? (1947)


Man is fully responsible for his nature and his choices.Existentialism (1947)


Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.Nausea (1938)


To know what life is worth you have to risk it once in a while.Dirty Hands (1948)


A victory described in detail is indistinguishable from a defeat.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


You must be afraid, my son. That is how one becomes an honest citizen.The Flies (1943)


Like all dreamers, I confused disenchantment with truth.The Words (1964)


Fascism is not defined by the number of its victims, but by the way it kills them.'On the Execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg', Libération (June 22, 1953)


I hate victims who respect their executioners.Loser Wins (Les Séquestrés d'Altona: A Play in Five Acts) (1960)


As for men, it’s not what they are that interests me, but what they can become.Dirty Hands (1948)


I recognize but one Church: the community of men.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


People who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends.Nausea (1938)


Man is not the sum of what he has, but the totality of what he does not yet have, of what he might have.'On The Sound and th e fury: Time in the Work of Faulkner,' Literary and Philosophical Essays (1955)


One is still what one is going to cease to be and already what one is going to become. One lives one’s death, one dies one’s life.Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr (1952)


A man can’t become a saint when he has to work sixteen hours a day.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


The revolution you dream of is not ours. You don’t want to change the world, you want to blow it up.Dirty Hands (1948)


This is what fools people: a man is always a teller of tales, he lives surrounded by his stories and the stories of others, he sees everything that happens to him through them; and he tries to live his own life as if he were telling a story.Nausea (1938)


Perception is naturally surpassed toward action; better yet, it can be revealed only in and through projects of action. The world is revealed as an “always future hollow,” for we are always future to ourselves.Being and Nothingness (1943)


I tell you truly: all men on earth are prophets, or God does not exist.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


Men equally honest, equally devoted to their fatherland, are momentarily separated by different conceptions of their duty.Dirty Hands (1948)


She believed in nothing. Her scepticism alone kept her from being an atheist.The Words (1964)


What do we mean here by “existence precedes essence”? We mean that man first exists: he materializes in the world, encounters himself, and only afterward defines himself.Existentialism is a Humanism (1946)


Better have beasts that stand and let themselves be killed than men who run like rabbits.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


I confused things with their names: that amounts to believing.The Words (1964)


I will not be modest. As humble as you please, but not  modest. Modesty is the  virtue of the half-hearted.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


Consciousness is a being, the nature of which is to be conscious of the nothingness of its being.Being and Nothingness (1943)


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 more at all.Nausea (1938)


I am not virtuous; but our sons will be if we shed enough blood to give them the right to become so.The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)


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; giving is a keen, brief enjoyment, almost sexual. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives.Being and Nothingness (1943)


My thought is me: that’s why I can’t stop. I exist because I think… I can’t stop myself from thinking.Nausea (1938)