Existentialism Is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre [Actionable Summary]

This is a comprehensive book summary of the book Existentialism Is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre. Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski. Supporting Members get full access and a downloadable/printable version of the summary.

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

A lecture turned into a short. Precise. Powerful. Thought-provoking book where one of the most dominant European intellectuals simplifies his own theories. In particular, in this work, Jean-Paul Sartre clearly defines the key concept of existentialism. Plainly, we are free to choose who we want to become. We are responsible for creating our own purpose and meaning in life. This title is highly recommended for philosophical nerds and people who accepted the idea of optimistic nihilism.

The Core Idea:

Often criticized by other philosophers. The core concept of existentialism and the main subject discussed in this book is that “existence precedes essence”. You are what you make of yourself. You are not “created” to accomplish a particular deed. There is no prior plan developed before your birth to guide you. You are free to invent your purpose and, from there, set goals and act based on your own values.

Reason To Read:

Reading Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism can be both discouraging and stimulating. Stimulating because you’re told that you have the freedom to realize yourself. Create a meaningful life based on what you want. At the same time though, discouraging because if you fail. If you screw up. Well, this means that it’s your own damn fault and no one else’s.


  • There is nothing external to dictate your character or your goal in life. It’s you who decide.
  • Choosing not to choose is still a choice.
  • Your actions define who you are and send a message to the rest of humanity.

5 Key Lessons from Existentialism Is a Humanism:

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