This article reconsiders a specific mishnah - Avot 5:16 - which praises a disinterested love, while denouncing expressions of interested love. By referring to the alleged "love"of Amnon and Tamar, Avot 5:16 equates sexuality and interestedness with incest and rape. This exegetical choice is surprising, given the pro-natal and "carnal"trajectory of biblical and talmudic traditions, which can be described as proto-pragmatist in this regard. The paper opens by defining pragmatic interestedness vis-à-vis disinterestedness, while reviewing the prevalence of disinterestedness in modern philosophy. Section 2 examines mishnah Avot 5:16 and its advocacy of disinterested ethic, while suggesting its ideational affiliation with Platonic love and with the Christian Agape. Section 3 argues that within normative-laden Jewish tradition, as well as in classical American pragmatism, we find an embodied and integrative philosophical anthropology (or pragmatic interestedness), which deeply challenges the disinterestedness paradigm of Avot 5:16. Section 4 concludes with some reflections on the relevance of this study for the research of Jewish thought and the Humanities.
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- agape vs. eros
- classical American pragmatism
- Mishnah Avot 5:16
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Religious studies