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The Nature of LoveCourtly and Romantic$
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Irving Singer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262512732

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262512732.001.0001

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William Shakespeare Philosopher of Love

William Shakespeare Philosopher of Love

(p.209) 7 William Shakespeare Philosopher of Love
The Nature of Love

Irving Singer

The MIT Press

This chapter explores the works of Shakespeare and how they relate to the reality of Renaissance love theory. Like Lorenzo de’ Medici, Shakespeare had no faith in religious concepts promising a superior consummation of love in the “hereafter.” As can be gathered from his works, Shakespeare believed that extensive enjoyment, here, now, and however long nature allows, is what everyone really desires to be the outcome of sexual love. This assumption is problematic, and he deliberately does not subject it to scrutiny. Because of this stance, critics have panned Shakespeare’s philosophic scope as inadequate. The lack of theological insight in Shakespeare’s works has also been pointed out by Santayana, and this might stem from the fact that Shakespeare was never doctrinal in the sense that Dante or Lucretius were.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Renaissance love theory, Lorenzo de’ Medici, sexual love, theological insight, Santayana, Dante, Lucretius

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