In this prescient essay collection, the acclaimed author of Foucault’s Pendulum examines the cultural trends and perils at the dawn of the 21st century. In the last decade of the 20th century, Umberto Eco saw an urgent need to embrace tolerance and multiculturalism in the face of our world’s ever-increasing interconnectivity. At a talk delivered during the first Gulf War, he points out the absurdity of armed conflict in a globalized economy where the flow of information is unstoppable and the enemy is always behind the lines. Elsewhere, he questions the influence of the news media and identifies its contribution to our collective disillusionment with politics.
In a deeply personal essay, Eco recalls his boyhood experience of Italy’s liberation from fascism. He then analyzes the universal elements of fascism, including the “cult of tradition” and a “suspicion of intellectual life.” And finally, in an 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? “At just 111 pages, Five Moral Pieces packs a philosophical wallop surprising in such a slender book. Or maybe not so surprising. Eco's prose here is beautiful.”—January Magazine