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Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry

Volume 6, Issue 14, Winter 2011

John Decarlo
Pages 51-60

Mother and Son
The Dynamics of Hamlet’s Cartesian Madness

Contrary to Eliot’s charge that Hamlet is lacking in literary form, the philosophical form of the Cartesian Cogito, which Hamlet embodies in terms of the instability of the Cogito’s determined reason and determined madness, and complicates in terms of not having the theological backing that is offered to the Cogito’s philosophical “blind spot,” provides insight into Hamlet’s response to his mother’s sexual behavior. Correspondingly, Erikson’s insight that doubt is the brother of shame explains how Hamlet, burdened by his unguarded philosophical doubts about the ontological and moral nature of the Ghost and its command of revenge, negatively projects his sense of shame into his perception of his mother’s behavior; thus filling the gap of Eliot’s objective correlative.