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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



"Real" (Crazy) Love

Gabrielle Ponce-Hegenauer • Wesleyan University 

April 8th @ 6pm • Daniel Family Commons 

Plato says that love is a special kind of madness, but what does it mean to encounter the “real” incommensurability of anOther? This paper develops a close engagement with exiled Sephardic philosopher and court physician Judah Abravanel’s (Leone Ebreo) Dialogues of Love (Rome, 1535). A syncretic text, Abravanel's work put Italian Renaissance Neoplatonism into conversation with Medieval Iberian Kabbalah, Jewish and Islamic neo-Aristotelianism, and Classical Greek and Roman philosophy, to offer a novel and influential theorization of erotic ethics. Widely reprinted, translated, and cited, his erotic metaphysics became the foundation for sixteenth and early seventeenth-century erotic poetics, before disappearing from the pages of modernity. Abravanel's novel bricolage of Genesis, Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, and Plato's Symposium as a dialogue between Philone and Sophia offers unexpected insights into contemporary theorizations of love (including Lacan’s infamous dictum, “il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel”), an intervention into erotic ethics today.

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