Existentialism is a philosophical movement that focuses on individual freedom and choice. It emerged in the 20th century and was popularized by French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

Sartre’s beliefs about existentialism revolve around the idea that existence precedes essence, meaning that individuals create their own meaning in life through their choices and actions. In this article, we will explore Sartre’s key beliefs about existentialism.

Sartre’s Definition of Existentialism

Sartre defines existentialism as “the attempt to draw all of the consequences from a position of consistent atheism.” He believed that without the concept of God, humans are left to create their own meaning and purpose in life. This leaves individuals with a sense of anxiety and responsibility for their own lives.

Existence Precedes Essence

Sartre’s key belief about existentialism is that existence precedes essence. This means that individuals are not born with a predetermined nature or essence, but rather create their own through their choices and actions. In other words, humans are not defined by what they are but rather by what they do.

Freedom and Responsibility

According to Sartre, freedom is the foundation of human existence. However, with freedom comes responsibility for one’s actions. Individuals must take responsibility for their choices because they have created their own essence through those choices.

Anguish and Despair

Sartre believed that with freedom comes anguish and despair. Individuals must confront the reality of their existence without any external guidance or support from religion or tradition. This leads to feelings of isolation and anxiety.


Sartre believed that individuals must strive for authenticity in order to live meaningful lives. Authenticity means being true to oneself and taking responsibility for one’s actions. It requires individuals to confront their own freedom and take ownership of their lives.


Sartre’s beliefs about existentialism have had a profound impact on philosophy and society. His emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility has influenced many areas of thought, from politics to psychology.

Sartre believed that individuals must create their own meaning in life, which can be a daunting task but also liberating. By embracing our freedom and taking responsibility for our choices, we can live authentic lives and find meaning in a world without external guidance or support.