A fantastically accomplished writer and philosopher, Umberto Eco tends to write pieces that are layered and accessible. The common thread is epistemological in nature; he has written everything from treatises on the theory of semiotics to an exploration of the patterns of thought of a game show host. Unflinchingly- perhaps even harshly- realistic, Umberto’s works nonetheless retains a poetic beauty that is often evidenced by those whose passion is the truth.
In his book The Name of the Rose Eco explores in a novel format the use of semiotics – the device of using signals to represent underlying realities. His focus in the novel is on the misuse of power by one set of people. His protagonist, a benevolent Franciscan monk, seeks to promote education and knowledge by fighting the system of oppression that is held in place by neglect and corruption.
The character, William of Baskerville, is not your ordinary protagonist. Without breaking historical context, he uses modern methods to seek out and expose the shady dealings of abuse that riddle the structure of which he himself is a part. He is not the narrator of the tale, but acts as a bridge between the reader and the underlying study of signals and how we use them to understand reality. The character is also quite taken with Aristotle and provides tangential philosophical learning.
The work is a fascinating exploration in the layered meta-reality that we have created as motile, reasoning, social creatures and is conducive to a lively debate for all levels of philosopher. I’d like to invite you to head over to Not School and chime in to let us know that you’ll be reading along with the Introductory Readings in Philosophy group this month.
[Be sure to virtually meet Hillary by listening to Mark’s interview with her about this long-standing group on the recent Not School Digest episode.]