I think Stephenson's Anathem is a better example of the second category. It's almost purely world-building escapist fiction. There's not any obvious message apart from perhaps a satirical introspective of our own society.
Basically Anathem introduced me to the historical progression of ideas and the constant forgetfulness of that process as its practiced by at least Western society. You can make the argument that academics know that this isn't the case, but I'm not sure that they're not caught up in the same progressive forgetfulness as the "common person".