Zygmunt Bauman (November 19, 1925 – January 9, 2017) was a sociologist, Polish philosopher of Jewish origin, and author of numerous books. Possibly his best known work is “Liquid Love”, in which the author spoke of the concept that is the title of his text.
Liquid love refers to the fragile bond that describes the interpersonal relationships that are formed in post-modernity. However, in addition to this, Bauman has dealt with different issues, such as: social classes, the holocaust, consumerism or globalization. His work earned him the 2010 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.
Bauman’s Best Famous Quotes
Throughout his life, Bauman uttered many thought-provoking and insightful phrases. Died in January 2017, Zygmunt Bauman represented one of the standards of modern critical thought.
That’s why in this article we have made a compilation of his best quotes so that you can enjoy them and get closer to his philosophy.
1. Glances meet through a crowded room, the spark of attraction is ignited. They talk, dance, laugh. Neither is looking for a serious relationship but somehow one night can become a week, then a month, a year or longer
Attraction is a feeling that invades us with great force and makes our attention focus on that particular person.
2. All measures taken in the name of “rescuing the economy” become, as if touched by a magic wand, measures that serve to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor
Bauman reflects on the situation of liberal capitalism and its consequences for people.
3. What used to be a project for “all life” has now become an attribute of the moment. Once designed, the future is no longer “forever”, but needs to be continually assembled and disassembled. Each of these two apparently contradictory operations is of equal importance and tends to be equally absorbing.
Another reflection on our society. This time talking about globalization and the irruption of new technologies.
4. To be always at the disposal of colleagues and bosses, as well as family members and friends, becomes not only a possibility but also an obligation, as well as an inner need; the home of the English citizen may still be his castle, but its walls are porous and not insulated from noise
The family will always be a refuge from this highly competitive and demanding society.
5. The art of breaking relationships and coming out of them unscathed goes far beyond the art of composing relationships
It’s easier to run away from your partner when things are bad than to stay and fix them. That requires negotiation and compromise if necessary.
6. Is it the sense of privilege that makes the rich and powerful happy? Is progress towards happiness measured by the diminishing number of fellow travelers?
A quote from Bauman who talks about happiness and what motivates us to achieve it.
7. Love can and often is as frightening as death, but it masks the truth under waves of desire and enthusiasm
Love is certainly motivating. But sometimes it can be scary to take risks for someone.
8. To practice the art of life, to make one’s life a “work of art” is equivalent in our modern liquid world to remaining in a state of permanent transformation, to perpetually redefining oneself by transforming (or at least trying to do so) into someone other than the one who has gone so far
The author talks about how people are continually trying to improve themselves and grow.
9. To be an artist by decree, means that not action also counts as action; besides swimming and sailing, letting oneself be carried away by the waves is considered a priori an act of creative art and in retrospect it is usually registered as such. …] who can tell which ticket will win in the next lottery draw? Only the unbought ticket has no chance of winning.
If we don’t try or prove it, we’ll never make it. He who doesn’t play doesn’t win. It’s that simple.
10. The “network” of human relationships (“net”: the endless game of connecting and disconnecting) is today the site of the most distressing ambivalence, which confronts the artists of life with a tangle of dilemmas that cause more confusion than tracks offer…
Bauman, reflecting on modern interpersonal relationships and how people behave with others.
11. We can say that the world generated by the “modern project” behaves, in practice if not in theory, as if humans had to be compelled to seek happiness (at least the happiness outlined by those who have set themselves up as its advisors and counsellors, as well as by advertising copywriters)
The media and advertising influence our archetype of happiness. Happiness, in fact, is big business.
12. On the other hand, love is the longing to love and to preserve the object loved
For Bauman, love has to do with possession, with wanting to possess and having something.
13. When lovers feel insecure they tend to behave in unconstructive ways trying to please or control
Insecurity negatively affects relationships. Because an insecure person cannot love unconditionally.
14. One of the fundamental effects of equating happiness with the purchase of items that are expected to generate happiness is to eliminate the possibility that this kind of pursuit of happiness will one day come to an end. …] Since the state of stable happiness is not attainable, only the pursuit of this stubbornly elusive goal can keep the runners who pursue it happy
Happiness has become a very profitable business. However, the search for happiness through objects becomes the opposite of happiness.
15. One of the main causes of the impression that the shift from the “economy of management” to the “economy of experience” is clearly unstoppable seems to be the partial invalidation of all categorical opinions, because of the dissipation, attenuation or disappearance of the boundaries that once clearly separated the independent and autonomous spheres and value areas of life: the workplace of the home, the time of contract of free time, work of leisure and, no doubt, the business of family life.
A phrase that invites the reader to reflect on how this society is constituted.
16. There is no alternative but to try, and try and try again
If we want something, we have to fight for it. If it goes wrong, we have to keep trying.
17. While alive, love is always on the verge of defeat
Conflicts in the members of a couple are frequent, so we have to fight to keep love alive.
18. You say that your desire is to relate, but in reality, aren’t you more concerned about preventing your relationships from crystallizing and curdling?
A quote from Bauman on thought-provoking interpersonal relationships.
19. With our “cult of instant gratification,” many of us “have lost the ability to wait”
Patience is one of the virtues of the human being, but it is often not compatible with the society of immediacy in which we live.
20. Pledges of commitment in a relationship once established mean nothing in the long run
Words and promises are carried away by the wind. It’s the deeds that count.
21. The land of opportunity promised more equality. The land of the gutless can only offer more inequality
A thought with a mention of capitalism. Inequality is a characteristic of this socio-economic model.
22. One seeks in a relationship the hope of mitigating the insecurity that harassed him in solitude but therapy only serves to exacerbate the symptoms
Sometimes people, because they are not alone, end up with a partner. In the long run, this is a bad decision.
23. In addition to being an economy of excess and waste, consumerism is also, and precisely for that reason, an economy of deception. It bets on the irrationality of consumers, and not on their well-informed decisions made in the cold; it bets on awakening consumerist emotion, and not on cultivating reason
Bauman, making it clear that he is against capitalism and consumer society.
24. You can never be sure of what you should do and you will never be sure that you have done the right thing
Uncertainty is part of our life and we must accept it. We must not be afraid of the future.
25. Love does not find its meaning in the longing for things done but in the impulse to participate in the construction of those things
Love is an impulse that moves our lives and is a great motivation for people.
26. What kind of commitment, if any, does the joining of the bodies establish?
A question raised by Bauman, about the intimacy between two people.
27. Today culture does not consist of prohibitions but of offers, it does not consist of rules but of proposals. As Bourdieu pointed out earlier, culture today is about offering temptations and establishing attractions, with seduction and lures instead of regulations, with public relations instead of police supervision: producing, sowing and planting new desires and needs instead of imposing duty
This is the culture of consumption. In which you are constantly buying products even if you don’t need them.
28. If you want your relationship to be full, don’t compromise. Keep all your doors open permanently
For the relationship to be healthy, a non-judgmental and undemanding attitude must be adopted.
29. To love means to open the door to that destiny, to the most sublime of human conditions in which fear merges with joy in an indissoluble alloy, whose elements can no longer be separated. To open oneself to this destiny means, ultimately, to give freedom to being: this freedom that is embodied in the Other, the companion in love
One must be brave in love and love without fear. One must give free rein to one’s heart.
30. Ours is a consumer society: in it, culture, like the rest of the world experienced by consumers, manifests itself as a deposit of conceived goods
Again, a reflection on the consumerist society in which we live immersed and in which it is difficult to stop and reflect.
31. You never lose sight of your cell phone. Your sportswear has a special pocket to hold it, and going out for a run with that pocket empty would be like going out barefoot. In fact, you don’t go anywhere without your cell phone (nowhere is really a space without a cell phone, a space outside the cell phone’s coverage area, or a cell phone without…
Mobile phones, like new technologies, have burst into our lives, changing our perception of the world.
32. Attempts to overcome this duality, to tame the unruly and tame the unrestrained, to make the unknowable predictable and to chain the wandering are the death sentence of love
In love you don’t have to be so predictable. Love lives when it manifests itself.
33. We find ourselves in a situation where we are constantly encouraged and predisposed to act in an egocentric and materialistic way
Capitalism brings with it a whole system of values that affects the members of society.
34. If there is no good solution to a dilemma, if none of the sensible and effective attitudes bring us closer to the solution, people tend to behave irrationally, making the problem more complex and making its resolution less plausible
To solve a problem, if it is also complex, staying calm and cool is necessary.
35. Truth can only emerge at the end of a conversation, and in a genuine conversation (i.e. one that is not a disguised soliloquy) none of the interlocutors knows or can know for sure when it will come to an end (if any)
Honest conversations are characterized by promoting honesty and truth.
36. The culture of liquid modernity no longer has a populace to illustrate and ennoble, but clients to seduce
In this society we are very concerned about what others think of us and about giving a good image. That takes away from the authenticity of our relationships.
37. Progress, in short, has ceased to be a discourse that speaks of improving the life of all to become a discourse of personal survival
In today’s society, what triumphs is individualism over the collective.
38. Love is the survival of the self through the otherness of the self
Love can transform people’s perception and behavior.
39. No kind of connection that can fill the gap left by the old absent links is guaranteed to last
The emotional bonds between people, known as attachment, can leave a mark on our lives.
40. Love and power-seeking are Siamese twins: neither could survive the separation
In this sentence, Bauman refers to romantic love. However, there are different kinds of love. If you want to go deeper into this subject, click here.
41. Consumerism acts to maintain the emotional counterpart of work and family. Exposed to a continuous barrage of advertising through the daily average of three hours of television (half their free time), workers are persuaded to “need” more
Consumerism is fed by the constant persuasion of the media and advertising.
42. Modern liquid culture no longer feels that it is a culture of learning and accumulation, like the cultures recorded in the reports of historians and ethnographers. Instead, it appears to us as a culture of detachment, discontinuity and oblivion
The liquid culture of which Bauman speaks is a consequence of the commodification of interpersonal relations.
43. If expected happiness does not materialize, there is always the possibility of blaming it on a wrong choice rather than on our inability to live up to the opportunities offered to us
In this socioeconomic model, it is even marketed with happiness.
44. This is the stuff that dreams, and fairy tales, of a consumer society are made of: becoming a desirable and desired product
In the consumerist society, even people are no longer subjects but objects.
45. Cell phones help stay connected to those at a distance. Cell phones allow those who are connected… to keep their distance
Mobiles have changed the way we humans relate to each other. Even if we are next door, we can be really distant if we don’t interact with real people and instead we do it with chat.
46. Love and death have no history of their own. They are events of human time, each one independent, not connected (and even less causally connected) to other similar events, except in retrospective human compositions, anxious to locate -to invent- those connections and to understand the incomprehensible
A quote that invites the reader to reflect on love and death.
47. The tendency to forget and the vertiginous speed of forgetting are, to our misfortune, apparently indelible marks of modern liquid culture. Because of this adversity, we tend to stumble along, stumbling through one explosion of popular anger after another, reacting nervously and mechanically to each one separately, as they present themselves, instead of trying to seriously address the issues they reveal
We live in a society characterized by individualism and the immediacy of information. This makes us weak.
48. The invariable purpose of education was, is, and always will be, the preparation of these young people for life. A life in accordance with the reality into which they are destined to enter. To be prepared, they need instruction, “practical, concrete and immediately applicable knowledge”, to use Tullio De Mauro’s expression. And to be “practical”, a quality teaching needs to foster and propagate openness of mind, and not closedness
Valid education is that which enables people to develop critical thinking and empowerment in the face of life.
49. It is sterile and dangerous to believe that one dominates the entire world thanks to the Internet when one does not have enough culture to filter good information from bad information for consumption, all of them in competition for the unbearably fleeting and distracted attention of potential customers, striving to capture that attention beyond the blink of an eye
In modern life, where we live with the advances of new technologies and the Internet, infoxication is a present problem. People must know how to discern between useful and non-useful information.
50. In a word, GDP measures everything except what makes life worth living
An ironic phrase that refers to the fact that money does not bring happiness.
51. As regards love, possessiveness, power, deception and absolute fusion are the four horsemen of the apocalypse
One of Bauman’s phrases about love.
52. Why do I like books? Why do I like to think? Why am I passionate? Because things could be otherwise
Certain mental attitudes predispose us to change things.
53. I went left, I am left, and I will die left
Zygmunt Bauman’s work has been greatly influenced by his political ideology, which led him to focus on social rather than individual phenomena.
54. The rationality of commands is always the weapon of the mandataries
An interesting reflection on rationality and its role in power relations.
55. The truth that sets men free is often the truth that men prefer not to hear
An idea reminiscent of the myth of Plato’s cave.
56. Globalization is the last hope that there is a place where one can go and find happiness
Bauman criticizes the idealized view of globalization.
57. Modernity consists in forcing nature to serve human needs obediently
This is another criticism of the idea of progress , in this case of one of the engines of the Enlightenment.
58.Feelings of injustice that could be exploited to achieve greater equality are redirected towards the clearer manifestations of consumerism
Criticism of consumerism as a mechanism to keep the economy afloat.
59. What is the difference between living and explaining life?
Inspiring phrase about the essence of living.
60.Anti-politics guarantees the continuation of the political game between parties, but empties it of social significance
Believing that we are on the sidelines of politics does not make us strangers to it.
61.What is happening now, what we can call the crisis of democracy, is the collapse of confidence. The belief that leaders are not only corrupt or stupid, but are generally incapable
The vision of professional politics has fallen greatly, in part because of this lack of confidence.
62. On the networks it is so easy to add friends or delete them that you do not need social skills
Reflection on the gaps covered by the use of social networks .
63. Individualization consists in transforming the human identity of something ‘given’ into a ‘task’, and in making the actors responsible for carrying out this task and for the consequences (as well as the collateral effects) of their performance
Bauman believed that individualism is the way of thinking that is most nourished by liberalism.
64. One is not harder and more unscrupulous than all the others, they will destroy him, with or without remorse
Morality also works according to social logic.
65.The essence of the dismissive attitude arises from a blurring of the ability to discriminate
Difficulties in discovering new and stimulating situations can lead to boredom and boredom.
66.The promise to learn the art of love is the promise (false, deceptive, but inspiring the deep desire to make it true) to achieve “experience in love” like any other commodity
Love can also be treated as a commodity.
67.Love is a mortgage loan on account of an uncertain and inscrutable future
An aphorism about the emotional life and what guides it.
68.The precept of loving one’s neighbor challenges the instincts determined by nature; but it also challenges the sense of survival established by nature, and that of the love of self that protects it
Interesting reflection on those forces that love opposes.
69. It is the unrestrained speed of circulation, recycling, aging, disposal and replacement that pays off, not the durability or long-lasting reliability of the product
Bauman understands the contemporary productive machinery as a bubble that, when bursting, produces a crisis.
70.The possibility of containing and assimilating the unstoppable mass of innovations is less and less promising, if not unattainable
Another of Bauman’s criticisms of the idea of progress.