Re: Thinking Makes It So?

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Mon May 08 2000 - 21:39:07 MDT

>sollipsism or ethnocentricism. (Rorty is a popular writer who adopts this
>strategy.) Sollipsism


>I orginally began by saying that I'd limit the scope of Shakespeare's
>quote that "... there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it
>so." Thus far, I've only been extending its scope to include good/bad
>beliefs, suggesting that *everything*, *all* discourse falls prey to this.

Hamlet wasn't talking about truth vs falsity, but about evaluative statements:

Ham. Denmark's a prison.
  Ros. Then is the world one.
  Ham. A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and
    dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.
  Ros. We think not so, my lord.
  Ham. Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good
    or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
  Ros. Why, then your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your

Plainly, the world is *not*, as a matter of fact, a `prison'. But it feels
like one to Hamlet. His feelings, he points out, are not open to disproof,
as a claim of fact might be. Wily Rosencrantz remarks astutely that the
proximate *cause* of Hamlet's `thinking' that `makes it so' is his ambition
(which he might abandon if he chose) - thus at once confirming and
undermining Hamlet's solipsistic assessment.


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