But as we have seen, Roberto absorbed knowledge to which he was exposed as if he were a sponge, and was not distressed at believing in contradictory truths. Perhaps it was not that he lacked a taste for system; his was a choice.

In Paris the world had appeared to him a stage on which deceptions were depicted, for the spectator wanted to follow and admire a different story every evening, as if the usual things, even if miraculous, no longer enlightened anyone, and only the unusually uncertain or the certainly unusual were able still to stimulate. The ancients had affirmed that for any question a sole answer existed, whereas the great theater of Paris offered him the spectacle of a question to which the most varied replies could be given. Roberto decided to concede only half of his spirit to the things he believed (or believed he believed), keeping the other half open in case the contrary was true.

Umberto Eco--Island of the Day Before, p.272

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