Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What major philosophical points dominate Hamlet's soliloquy in scene 1 act 3 of Hamlet?

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Hamlet questions the relationship between thinking and being.  He presages the modern existentialism of Heidegger, who wrote Being and Time, and Sartre, who wrote Being and Nothingness.  In his own time, Shakespeare draws on Descartes's "Cogito, Ergo Sum" ("I think, therefore I am"), and on philosophy of universal doubt.  Descartes says:

“thinking ensures the fact of his existence, and, further, the existence of God, who will, in turn, ensure the existence of the Universe”

According to Kállay, Géza in “‘To be or not to be’ and ‘Cogito, ergo sum’: Thinking and Being in Shakespeare’s Hamlet Against a Cartesian Background.” AnaChronist [no vol. #] (1996): 98-123:

Hamlet uses thinking not so much to settle the question of ‘what exists and what does not,’ but to give its extent, to mark out its ‘bourn,’ the frontier dividing being and non-being, only to see one always in terms of the...

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