I read Name of the Rose
when it came out twenty five years ago or so, and liked it a lot. Will have to dig out my copy. Also liked the movie. And Eco's follow up book Foucault's Pendulum
I really like Eco's semiotic references to scholastic philosophy. The debate on realism (now known as idealism) and nominalism (now known as empiricism) between Duns Scotus and William of Ockham is at the foundation of the rise of modern science, with roots going back to Plato's Sophist
. Just for fun, here are my views on Plato:
Plato compares the effort to make sense of the world to a battle between giants and Gods, in which the difficulties of philosophy are discussed in terms of the quarrel between materialism and idealism. The giants "define reality as the same thing as body, and as soon as one of the opposite party asserts that anything without a body is real, they are utterly contemptuous and will not listen to another word", while on the other side the Gods "are very wary in defending their position somewhere in the heights of the unseen, maintaining with all their force that true reality consists in certain intelligible and bodiless Ideas" (246b). What the giants "allege to be true reality, the Gods do not call real being, but a sort of moving process of becoming" (246c). Plato believed that both these ways of thought had something important to offer, but he attacked the materialists for being violent and uncivilised (246d) and for thinking that "whatever they cannot squeeze between their hands is just nothing at all" (247c). He says, "it is quite enough for our purposes if they consent to admit that even a small part of reality is bodiless", arguing that this must be admitted in the case of qualities of the soul like "justice and wisdom or any other sort of goodness or badness" (247b).
Mary's post above reminds me of Shakespeare's line from Romeo and Juliet
'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet'
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.