30 Jean-Paul Sartre Quotes For Your Next Existential Crisis


Hated, revered, and sending people into an existential tizzy since 1940-something, Jean-Paul Sartre’s work remains crucial. Today would have been his 109th birthday. Intent on provoking us to “challenge every idea and every person,” Sartre’s assertions demanded we accept responsibility for our choices and our world, while embracing the inconceivable unknown. His devastating philosophies about being and nothingness continue to plunge people and their angst-ridden egos into the depths of an existential crisis. Mull these 30 quotes over the next time you’re contemplating the meaninglessness of it all, your place in this alien universe, and feeling trapped within the deeper recesses of your own psyche. After all, misery loves company.

“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.”

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

“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.”

“Hell is other people.”

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

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

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

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

“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.”

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

“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.”

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

“Man is a useless passion.”

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

“Nothingness haunts being.”

“Life begins on the other side of despair.”

“All human activities are equivalent… and… all are on principle doomed to failure.”

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

“I know. I know that I shall never again meet anything or anybody who will inspire me with passion. You know, it’s quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice: if you think about it you don’t do it. I know I’ll never jump again.”

“Words are loaded pistols.”

“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.”

“One always dies too soon — or too late. And yet, life is there, finished: the line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life.”

“Our responsibility is much greater than we might have supposed, because it involves all mankind.”

“Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.”

“Ah! How I hate the crimes of the new generation: they are dry and sterile as darnel.”

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

“To eat is to appropriate by destruction.”

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

“Don’t you feel the same way? When I cannot see myself, even though I touch myself, I wonder if I really exist.”

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