Sartre: The Road to Freedom

Sartre: The Road to Freedom

1999, Philosophy  -   32 Comments
Ratings: 8.29/10 from 48 users.

Sartre: The Road to FreedomTo be told, you are responsible for the period of history that you are living in. You have not only the right to choose, but the duty to choose and if you are now surrounded by poverty, by war, by oppression, by cruelty - that is what you have chosen. Sartre was the leading advocate of atheistic existentialism in France but he was also interested in the novel, drama, literary criticism and politics.

He is best remembered for his philosophical works and his idea of communistic existentialism which he expressed in novels and plays such as his debut novel Nausea (1939), which depicted man adrift in a godless universe, hostage to his own freedom. He had a long term affair with the feminist philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir, and together they were at the center of French intellectual life from the late 1920s onwards. His great philosophical work is Being and Nothingness (1956). Like Kierkegaard and Heidegger, Sartre emphasized the burden of individual personal freedom: that although we can’t escape the fact of our situation, we are free to change it. He drew a distinction between the unconscious and the conscious.

After the Second World War, during which he fought for the Resistance, he became increasingly interested in Marxism and his involvement with the French Communist party was part of his desire to overcome the economic and social "structures of choice" which he found restricting. His main contribution to Marxism is Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960). Sartre refused the 1964 Nobel Prize in literature on "personal grounds", but is later said to have accepted it. (Excerpt from

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peter M Mullen
6 years ago

I think Sartre was kind of a Dick in a world of "Dicks" Richard will never be the same.

8 years ago

Sartre was great, except for his willingness to apologize for Stalin and his death camps. Camus should have beat him down intellectually even more then he did for that.

8 years ago

as a student mental health nurse, sartre's ideas are particularly challenging regarding free-will. Does a schizophrenic have free will, for example? Did they choose to be "mad"? If so, what are the implications? To reject the prevailing paradigm? But How? The paradigm is pushing down on them, surely, shaping their rejection?. I reject free will because we're never truly free- society shapes us, as much as we shape it. its very confusing...fortunately im just a foot soldier guided by deontological ethics, and shaping treatment is a few pay scales above my current situation, but being aware of sartre's ideas seems enough at the moment

Sam Contos
9 years ago

genetics are relative to your environment...

10 years ago

Darwin - Is not conditioning learning and genetics completely different? Genetics for me is more about features, eye color, hereditary deceases and immunities whereas conditioning learning, especially in Sartre's case is what we pick up on as we grow - live etc.... ?

11 years ago

I love this one!

11 years ago

Sartre assumes we have free will and choice but this is highly questionable. We are the products of our genes and experiences. The programme talks about Sartre trying to attack his own conditioned thought in order to have complete freedom but the part of his mind that he was using to do the attacking/overriding is still subject to the interplay between genes and experience is it not? Therefore we can never be completely free of ourselves or transcend our values as Nietzche would have put it. We are condemned to be limited by our genes and experiences not condemned to be free. Where would this free thinking come from exactly - some supernatural force or deeper intelligence that Krishnamurti talks about? I doubt it.

12 years ago

Wait...he evidently seeks chaos, but rejects children?

12 years ago

Is it my misconception that he was once spoiled and as an adult still thought of himself as "I live just for me- who cares about anyone else". I'm just learning about him and see him as this very selfish man. I need input to prove me wrong on this.

12 years ago

Thanks alot for this one, really gets you thinking.

12 years ago

The monetary system is what causes all the suffering around the world. I seriously educated myself on the horrible things going on and why the world is like this. I am now an advocate for a Resource Based Economy as an alternative to capitalism. Too many children are dying and suffering for me to do anything but demand global change. I am young and was born into this mess, and I WILL NOT leave my children to something worse. It's hard to even imagine it being worse, but that's where we're headed

12 years ago

How could our children live in his freedom?

12 years ago

freedom is a word. define it for yourself and then discuss or argue it with others. i dont think anything eternally definitive will ever come of isn't a formulaic equation that can be balanced for every person. although, i do admit the search is interesting and exciting anyway haha! you always end up chasing your tail.

12 years ago

its my firm belief and the movie really invigorate my staunch belief that sartre still is and in the distant future will remain good wishes to topdocumentryfilms for the excellent job they r doing for the masses.

12 years ago

I don't believe human beings are fundamentally free its an illusion a concept built from observations of human behaviour in modern society. We are not free we exist in our environment and we are all governed ultimately by our environment.

12 years ago

inspirational! thankyou

12 years ago

I love this. Please find your perspectives. thank you

13 years ago


Julio Riquelme
13 years ago

In this period of time where we have chosen to forget liberty and choice, Sartre´s ideas are once again refreshing an important for those who did not know him. Excellent video.
Julio Riquelme C.

L Lusary
13 years ago

Excelent video...Thanks

Usmann Rana
13 years ago

An excellent documentary on the life of one of the most revered and influential philosophers of our times.Must watch!

13 years ago

Being able to see Sartre with Simone de Beauvoir in their epoch is fascinating.

N Budimir
14 years ago

I watched both the film on Heidegger and Sartre and found them really stimulating and fruitful for historical, political and sociological thinking.