Existentialism, a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence and freedom, is often associated with one name – Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre was a French philosopher, playwright, and novelist who lived from 1905 to 1980. He is considered the father of existentialism for his contributions to the development and popularization of this philosophy.

The Beginnings of Existentialism

Existentialism emerged in the 20th century as a reaction against traditional philosophical systems that emphasized reason, logic, and objective truth. Instead, existentialists focused on the subjective experience of individuals and the search for meaning in a chaotic and absurd world. They rejected the idea that there is an inherent purpose or meaning to life and instead argued that humans must create their own meaning through their actions.

Sartre’s Contributions

Sartre was instrumental in shaping the existentialist movement through his philosophical works, plays, and novels. His most famous work is “Being and Nothingness,” published in 1943. In this book, Sartre explores the concept of existence and its relationship to freedom, consciousness, and responsibility.

Sartre’s ideas were also reflected in his plays, such as “No Exit” and “The Flies,” which depict characters struggling with existential themes such as freedom, choice, and responsibility. These works helped bring existentialism to a wider audience beyond academic circles.


Sartre’s influence on philosophy extends beyond just existentialism. He was also involved in Marxist politics and wrote extensively on social issues such as colonialism and anti-Semitism. His work has been translated into numerous languages and continues to be studied today by philosophers, literary scholars, and social theorists.


Jean-Paul Sartre’s contributions to philosophy have had a lasting impact on our understanding of existence, freedom, and responsibility. His work helped shape the existentialist movement and its emphasis on the subjective experience of individuals. Sartre’s legacy continues to inspire new generations of thinkers and writers who seek to grapple with the complexities of human existence.