I realized it's a universal problem (after reading an explanation for Sartre's "hell is other people"), that nobody is free from (except obsessed people), but all i'm left with is myself. I know it's irrational for a mortal to be occupied with such trivial which will all soon be gone, but i can't find a way to get rid of this guilt.

Even after becoming aware of my true existential condition (which brings me anxiety and depression sometimes), i'm still a victim of this irrational guilt.

It seems to me to become free from this guilt, you have to be obsessed or at-least preoccupied with some life project which is impossible for a nihilistic.

  • Don't worry, this problem goes back a long way. You are going to "pay back" (Anaximander) in one way or another for your existence. As far as I know, Sartre was always anti-Freud so to speak, but to read "Civilization and its Discontents" (Freud) can actually lessen the guilt since we are taught to expect it. We know to expect the madding crowd, how far we let them intrude is ideally negotiated by the adult ego.
    – Gordon
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 0:32
  • That's the best I can do. I hope I understood your use of guilt. Someone who has truly studied Sartre could give you a better answer in line with his philosophy. He wrote and said a lot of things.
    – Gordon
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 0:35
  • 1
    I do not think life advice on getting rid of an obsessive feeling is something this site can address. But even aside from that I can not understand what the feeling is because the sentences are unfinished. "it's irrational for a mortal to be occupied with such trivial which will all soon be gone". Occupied with trivial what? "i can't find a way to get rid of this guilt". What guilt, and what does it have to do with caring about what others think?
    – Conifold
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 2:46
  • I had to make the assumption (perhaps unwarranted) that he was speaking of "existential guilt" as discussed here: evolutioncounseling.com/existential-guilt There was a book collecting some of Sartre's essays that was released in America 3-4years ago which covered Sartre's later thinking on existentialism. I can't remember the title! The "obsession" or project was suggested by Sartre himself; he was an obsessive writer who was fortunate enough to be able to make a living off of it. A "project" would be a more "normal" life interest and commitment.
    – Gordon
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 11:10
  • evolutioncounseling.com/existential-guilt
    – Gordon
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 11:11

4 Answers 4


There is a nice sutta in the Pāli Canon that deals with this kind of thing. Specifically it deals with insults but can just as well apply to other unpleasantness.

Akkosa Sutta: Insult

"What do you think, brahman: Do friends & colleagues, relatives & kinsmen come to you as guests?"

"Yes, Master Gotama, sometimes friends & colleagues, relatives & kinsmen come to me as guests."

"And what do you think: Do you serve them with staple & non-staple foods & delicacies?"

"Yes, sometimes I serve them with staple & non-staple foods & delicacies."

"And if they don't accept them, to whom do those foods belong?"

"If they don't accept them, Master Gotama, those foods are all mine."

"In the same way, brahman, that with which you have insulted me, who is not insulting; that with which you have taunted me, who is not taunting; that with which you have berated me, who is not berating: that I don't accept from you. It's all yours, brahman. It's all yours.


Read Sartre's Existentialism and Humanism, not just an explanation of a quote. 'True existential condition' - what have you presupposed that to be? The attempt to 'get rid of guilt' sounds exactly the worst way to address guilt. Atonement for wrongs done, reconciliation between enemies, and healing from damage, are ways to deal with guilt that have a history of working. Shoving it into a corner and imperiously declaring it irrational - not so much.

I blame a lot of what you seem to assume on Descartes. Rationality as a kind of isolation from causes and conditions. Take up some Wittgenstein, learn how there is no Private Language, no ivory tower to survey reality from. We can only think at all, because we care what other people think.

More broadly, there is this idea that we should first be concerned with ourselves, and relational behaviour is an optional extra. But research shows that is very much not the case - altruism is the instinct, and egoism the learned behaviour: Is Psychological Egoism true? Did C Daniel Batson refute it?

Take a deep breath. Count your blessings. Look for what is good in your life and nourishes you, and cultivate that.


Unbalanced feelings like irrational guild can usually be treated easily using cognitive behavioral therapy. You can both get counsel or follow some self-help book. This is not a philosophical question, but a psychological one.


There is a problem in your question. The logical failure of the question relates to the point of communication. If we desire to have no communication with anyone, or need for interaction, then what they think or do not think about us is irrelevant.

Once we desire communication, we take on the need to be viewed in various ways. Any communication puts forward ideas, concepts, propositions and desires a response. This process demands and desires the ideas etc are viewed in a particular way, and in the normal means, assumes a common understanding of concepts culture and context. So we are always limited to the ability of the listener to see us approximately in the way we desire.

The real question is probably slightly different. If I put forward an idea, will I compromise my principles and standing for the sake of another because of the conflict and problems that will arise. And the answer to this question actually comes with experience and knowledge of likely outcomes.

Jesus faced with Pontius Pilate Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." "What is truth?" Pilate asked. John 18:37-38

Jesus did not answer such questions, because there was no point. The outcome would be the same, and Pilate would still sentence him to death.

Some believers when faced with a nutcase who demands if they are believers, deny their faith to save their lives, rather than just admit the truth, and face the reality these guys are nuts and murderers and will do evil no matter what, standing for the truth and love is more important than letting evil intimidate others.

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