¶ … philosophical implications contained in Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. His views about God were formed when Eco attended the University of Turin to take up studies in medieval philosophy and literature. There, he wrote his thesis on Thomas Aquinas, although Eco stopped believing in God and left the Roman Catholic Church. The struggles he had in his own life echo those of William of Baskerville and his novice Adso of Melk have large issues with God and the Church. William of Baskerville is especially in this category since he has been arrest, tortured and imprisoned by the Inquisition in the past. Now, he is confronted with this same reality again and his faith is severely tried. He now again is faced with the choice between faith and knowledge, a choice he does not believe is right to make. For him, there is no contradiction between reason and faith.
Church vs. Papacy
The book reflects a conflict between the Church and the papacy where the pope guards the Church as a husband, father or mother would guard a woman's virtue. The monk Umbertino reflects upon this in Name of the Rose. He especially thinks that this is the case with the Pope Clement V who he describes as an angelic and sainted pope who preached the crusade against heretics against Dolcino . He described the Church as a whore and that obedience is due only to the Apostles of Christ represented by the spiritual successors of the first Pope Peter (Eco 228).
Greed vs. Power
The Name of the Rose touches upon such universal themes as power and greed. The monastery and the Church as a whole is based upon the suppression of human sexuality and the deviant outbursts of this sexuality and other sins such as heresy. This is especially shown in the Inquisition and the extents to which the Catholic church went to in order to secure its place as the dominant religion. In the book, "heretics" were tortured and then burned at the stake, many with viewpoints that only slightly disagreed with the official position of the church. A supporter of the church one day might find that they were a heretic the next. In the book, the Inquisition comes to abbey to burn hidden heretics who had survived the last crusade against their doctrines (ibid 234). Heretics used symbols to avoid detection and communicate with their fellow mendicants (Capozzi 11). Many of these were Millenarian and believed the second coming of Christ was at hand as born out by the symbols of his return (Murphy 48) .
Religiosity vs. Piety
The Franciscans are certainly pious. They have taken an oath of poverty and have individually given their wealth to the poor. Certainly, this true piety is contrasted with the outward religiosity of the Church officials of the inquisition who question whether Christ was poor. Only those who are rich and living in luxury would be troubled by true piety that would show their hypocrisy and lack of real religious conviction. Even now, Franciscans follow St. Francis' doctrine on this from his rule where they "zealously follow the poverty and humility of Our Lord Jesus Christ ("Franciscans")."
If Christ and the Apostles were utterly poor and owned nothing, then to see Popes and Church officials have great wealth in this world must have been a great contradiction in the eye of the general public. Certainly, the bishops assembled in the book for the inquisition's assembly would have been nervous when quietly confronted by the pious Franciscans whose only crime was their poverty. This very poverty made them a threat in the eyes of opulent leaders of the Church who would fear the day that such priests might lead the poor to take wealth...
In the Name of the Rose, the Church is primary, even over kings who rule at the pleasure of God and must have fealty to the Pope, God's representative on the face of the earth. This was represented in the belief that the Pope who was the representative of Christ on earth should have ultimate authority over both the state and the crown that was its symbol. In such a case popes could depose kings or compel a king's subjects to rebel against them when their policies contradicted the decrees of the Pope and the Church. The Petrine doctrine saw earthly kings as subservient to and ruling by the hand of God as dispensed through his servant on the throne of St. Peter ("Reading Guide: Medieval Church and State") .
Faith vs. Science
The novel must be understood in the context of scholasticism, was a method of learning taught by the academics of medieval universities between 1100 -- 1500 C.E. It originally began as an attempt at the reconciliation of the philosophy of ancient philosophers with medieval Christian theology. It was not theology or philosophy, but rather a tool and methodology for learning that highlighted reasoning. Its primary purpose of scholasticism was to find an answer questions or contradictions. It well-known in medieval theology and was eventually applied to classical philosophy and fields of secular study ("New World Encyclopedia").
William demonstrates his power of deductive reasoning. Despite his faith, his analytical mind refuses to accept the diagnosis of demonic possession. Brother William manages to show that the murders are committed by a more earthly instrument. William keeps an open mind while collecting facts and observations, following pure intuition he makes analytical decisions as to what his investigations should surround just as any scholastic would do.
The crisis of faith is expressed much more by his young novice Adso who loses his virginity (and possibly his faith) because of the young girl. Like the seductiveness of secular knowledge, the feminine wiles of the beautiful girl are irresistible to the young man whose repressed sexuality and intellect are boiling over (Eco 252). A young man such as Adso is being asked to shut down his brains and hormones in order to fulfill the dictates of the Church.
Simply put, the Church was asking humanity to throw its most active emotions of sex and curiosity into the closet as the price of salvation in the next world. Only repression of the most basic human emotions without complaint or protest could in the end please the Church and the Pope totally. Just as sex and its mysteries were locked behind the bedroom doors, forbidden knowledge is locked behind the closed and bolted doors of the abbey where brother Umberto keeps them safe from the prying eyes of the simple who would be led astray by their doctrines.
Laughter as Sinful
One of the key themes Eco's book is about laughter and whether or not it is sinful. He asks the question of whether or not laughter is ultimately justified in the sight of God or whether or it is a signal of the dominance of Satan. The monk Jorge argues that a person's laughter is the principle source of all evil. Jorge reflects that "The spirit is only serene only when it contemplates the truth and takes delight in good achieved, and truth and good are not to laughed at. This is why Christ did not laugh. Laughter foments doubt (Eco 132)."
Mans Evil vs. Good
For those who hold to the Church's concept of original sin, man is evil at the core and only God's intervention through the agency of the Church provides hope of his redemption. It looks upon man as totally depraved due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As a consequence of the Fall of Man brought about by this sin, every human born into the world is enslaved…
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