Saturday, February 20, 2016

Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco has passed away. The world is just a bit duller today.

Addendum: A website dedicated to Umberto Eco (retrieved from the Internet Wayback Machine). Over at Bldg Blog, some thoughts on Eco. An interview at The Paris Review.

INTERVIEWER: You are one of the world’s most famous public intellectuals. How would you define the term intellectual? Does it still have a particular meaning? 

ECO: If by intellectual you mean somebody who works only with his head and not with his hands, then the bank clerk is an intellectual and Michelangelo is not. And today, with a computer, everybody is an intellectual. So I don’t think it has anything to do with someone’s profession or with someone’s social class. According to me, an intellectual is anyone who is creatively producing new knowledge. A peasant who understands that a new kind of graft can produce a new species of apples has at that moment produced an intellectual activity. Whereas the professor of philosophy who all his life repeats the same lecture on Heidegger doesn’t amount to an intellectual. Critical creativity—criticizing what we are doing or inventing better ways of doing it—is the only mark of the intellectual function.

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