The Continuing Values and Truths of Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre, the key French Existential philosopher, correctly stated that life is mainly and ultimately an individual matter, even if ‘we make it up as we go’. He’s right that, over time, we largely exist and, in reaction to this fact, we have the responsibility to define the potential meanings and purposes of our life. For Sartre, this is a matter of honest and free personal choice, quite apart from all the typical conventional buck-passing and avoidance of responsibility that plagues modern man even more than ever, especially today.

Seen this way then, life is a serious, weighty process of neverending choices, by which we define ourselves through our choices in media res. (This, in turn, consequentially, sets an example or role model for and influences others.) Life is quite risky and there are no guarantees except for what we can choose, will, and act on. In Sartre’s view, because one’s basic choices are honest and true to oneself, there is a tangible positiveness and optimism engendered, if one is willing to actualize one’s own destiny, so to speak.

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