Modernity and Ambivalence

It is because of the anxiety that accompanies it and the indecision which follows that we experience ambivalence as a disorder – and either blame language for lack of precision or ourselves for linguistic misuse. And yet ambivalence is not the product of the pathology of language or speech. It is, rather, a normal aspect of linguistic practice. It arises from one of the main functions of language: that of naming and classifying. Its volume grows depending on the effectivity with which that function is performed. Ambivalence is therefore the alter ego of language, and its permanent companion – indeed, its normal condition.

Introduction in Modernity and Ambivalence  by ZYGMUNT BAUMAN

The Resilience of Ambivalence

Ambivalence is a side-product of the labour of classification; and it calls for yet more classifying effort. Though born of the naming/classifying urge, ambivalence may be fought only with a naming that is yet more exact, and classes that are yet more precisely defined: that is, with such operations as will set still tougher (counter-factual) demands on the discreteness and transparency of the world and thus give yet more occasion for ambiguity. The struggle against ambivalence is, therefore, both self-destructive and self-propelling. It goes on with unabating strength because it creates its own problems in the course of resolving them. Its intensity, however, varies over time, depending on the availability of force adequate to the task of controlling the extant volume of ambivalence, and also on the presence or absence of awareness that the reduction of ambivalence is a problem of the discovery and application of proper technology: a managerial problem. Both factors combined to make modern times an era of particularly bitter and relentless war against ambivalence.

Modernity and Ambivalence  by ZYGMUNT BAUMAN