The Art of Life - Zygmunt Bauman - E-Book

The Art of Life E-Book

Zygmunt Bauman

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In our individualized society we are all artists of life -whether we know it or not, will it or not and like it or not, bydecree of society if not by our own choice. In this society we areall expected, rightly or wrongly, to give our lives purpose andform by using our own skills and resources, even if we lack thetools and materials with which artists' studios need to beequipped for the artist's work to be conceived and executed.And we are praised or censured for the results - for what wehave managed or failed to accomplish and for what we have achievedand lost. In our liquid modern society we are also taught to believe that thepurpose of The Art of Life should be and can be happiness -though it's not clear what happiness is, the images of ahappy state keep changing and the state of happiness remains mostof the time something yet-to-be-reached. This new book by Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most originaland influential social thinkers writing today - is not a bookof designs for The Art of Life nor a 'how to' book: theconstruction of a design for life and the way it is pursued is andcannot but be an individual responsibility and individualaccomplishment. It is instead a brilliant account of conditionsunder which our designs-for-life are chosen, of the constraintsthat might be imposed on their choice and of the interplay ofdesign, accident and character that shape their implementation.Last but not least, it is a study of the ways in which our society- the liquid modern, individualized society of consumers- influences (but does not determine) the way we constructand narrate our life trajectories.

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Table of Contents

Cover

Title page

Copyright page

Epigraph

INTRODUCTION: What is Wrong with Happiness?

1 Miseries of Happiness

2 We, the Artists of Life

3 The Choice

AFTERWORD: On Organizing and Being Organized

Index

Copyright © Zygmunt Bauman 2008

The right of Zygmunt Bauman to be identified as Author of this Work has been asserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

First published in 2008 by Polity Press

Polity Press

65 Bridge Street

Cambridge CB2 1UR, UK.

Polity Press

350 Main Street

Malden, MA 02148, USA.

All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purpose of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-4325-0

ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-4326-7 (pb)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-5852-0 (Single-user ebook)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-5851-3 (Multi-user ebook)

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Every effort has been made to trace all copyright holders, but if any have been inadvertently overlooked the publishers will be pleased to include any necessary credits in any subsequent reprint or edition.

For further information on Polity, visit our website: www.polity.co.uk

You are not an isolated entity,

but a unique, irreplaceable part of the cosmos.

Don’t forget this.

You are an essential piece in the puzzle of humanity.

Epictetus, The Art of Living

It is the wish of all men … to live happily,

but when it comes to seeing clearly what it is that makes life happy,

they grope for the light;

indeed, a measure of the difficulty of achieving the happy life

is that the greater the man’s energy in striving for it,

the further he goes away from it

if he has taken a wrong turning on the road …

Seneca, ‘On the happy life’

INTRODUCTIONWhat is Wrong with Happiness?

The question in the title would baffle many a reader. And it is meant to baffle – to prompt one to pause and think. To pause in what? In our pursuit of happiness, which – as most readers would probably agree – is on our minds most of the time, fills the greater part of our lives, cannot and will not slow down, let alone stop … at least no longer than for a (fleeting, always fleeting) moment.

Why is this question likely to baffle? Because to ask ‘what is wrong with happiness?’ is like asking what is hot about ice or malodorous in a rose. Ice being incompatible with heat, and rose with stench, such questions assume the feasibility of an inconceivable coexistence (where there is heat, there can’t be ice). How, indeed, could something be wrong with happiness? Is not ‘happiness’ a synonym of the absence of wrong? Of the very impossibility of its presence? Of the impossibility of all and any wrong?!

And yet this is a question asked by Michael Rustin,1 as it has been by quite a few worried people before and probably will be in the future – and Rustin explains why: societies like ours, moved by millions of men and women pursuing happiness, are getting richer, but it is far from clear whether they are getting happier. It looks as if the human pursuit of happiness may well prove to be self-defeating. All the available empirical data suggest that among the populations of affluent societies there may be no connection at all between rising affluence, believed to be the principal vehicle of a happy life, and greater happiness!

The close correlation between economic growth and enhanced happiness is widely believed to be one of the least questionable truths, perhaps even the most self-evident. Or at least, this is what the best-known and most respected political leaders, their advisers and spokespeople, tell us – and what we, who tend to rely on their opinions, repeat without pause for reflection or second thoughts. They and we act on the assumption that the correlation is genuine. We want them to act on that belief still more resolutely and energetically – and we wish them luck, hoping that their success (that is, adding to our incomes, to our disposable cash, to the volume of our possessions, assets and wealth) will add quality to our lives and make us feel happier than we are.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!