Embracing the web of multi-culturalism that has become a fact of contemporary life from New York to New Delhi, Eco argues that we are more connected to people of other traditions and customs than ever before, making tolerance the ultimate value in today's world. What good, he asks in a talk delivered during the Gulf War, does war do in a world where the flow of goods, services, and information is unstoppable, and the enemy is always behind the lines? What makes news today, who decides how it will be presented and how does the way it is disseminated contribute to the widespread disillusionment with politics in general? In one of the most personal of the essays, Eco recalls experiencing liberation from fascism in Italy as a boy, and examines the various historical forms of fascism, always with an eye toward such ugly manifestations today. And finally, in an intensely personal open letter to an Italian Cardinal, Eco reflects on a question underlying all the reflections in the book - what does it mean to be moral or ethical when one doesn't believe in God?
As thoughtful and subtle as they are pragmatic and relevant, these essays present one of the world's most important thinkers at the height of his critical powers.
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(198mm x 129mm x 7mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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UK Kirkus Review »
This collection of essays and speeches dates from 1991 to 1997, but these political and ethical thinkpieces could not be more relevant than now, with war looming and international governments desperate to avoid another terrorist tragedy at all costs. In this small book, a closely knit group of issues blend together to give an overall comment on how multiculturalism has changed not just the nature of politics and society, but ethics and morals as well. Eco opens with an essay on the nature of war and its current definition. He argues that since the advent of the electronic era, when the globe is connected 24 hours a day via the Internet and television, the concept of 'other' in reference to the enemy cannot be used as it was in the 20th century. He further argues that like incest and cannibalism, war should be ethically removed from society just as sexual relations with family or the consumption of human flesh is now instinctively shuddered at. The remaining four essays derive from this ethical concept of the 'other' in topics regarding religious tolerance, an analysis of the responsibilities of the free press, a thorough definition of Fascism, and immigration and tolerance. Using lists to lay out his theories and personal experience to invoke empathy and emotions, Eco's voice is a calm and rational look at all the major issues facing society today. Where the personal and political combine, Eco is there to explain that 'natural principles have been carved into our hearts' regardless of our race, gender or religion, and that in order to find personal redemption, we cannot cast aside morals as being dated or prescriptive, but current and evolving. Eco's articles, many of which sprang from letters and speeches, have a genial and conversational tone, and although they are unabashedly intellectual in tome, they are written at an accessible level. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco has written works of fiction, literary criticism and philosophy. His first novel, The Name of the Rose, was a major international bestseller. His other works include Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana and The Prague Cemetery, along with many brilliant collections of essays.