Jean-Paul Sartre, a French philosopher, is perhaps the best known advocate of existentialism. In this view, no external authority gives life meaning: mankind is radically free and responsible. In every moment we choose ourselves, with no assurance that we have a continuing identity or power. We set up determinisms to ease our minds, but in the face of the finality of death, only through our present consciousness do we establish our own authentic existence.
Sartre's existentialism faces the evil in human existence and sees that humans are responsible for it. He doubts mankind can make moral progress, yet he embraces the possibilities for human life and believes we can attain dignity by our own efforts. Sartre’s ideas had a profound influence on ordinary people after World War II and continue to contribute to the development of thought in Europe and America today.