Title: Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation
Author: Eric Kaplan
2014 – Nonfiction – Philosophy
The Premise: Using the tenets of philosophical thought, Eric Kaplan seeks to explore the mythology of Santa Claus. To ponder whether or not the old guy in the jolly red suit actually exists. And to ruminate upon our fixation with assuring ourselves that he exists, even as we wrap the gifts to put under the tree.
The Opening Line: The ontology of Santa Claus didn’t impinge on my life until my son, Ari, was in kindergarten.
What I Loved: Kaplan’s a funny guy. I chuckled a fair amount of times as I read through this, wishing I understood even more of the humor. And the book was pretty readable and easy to understand. That helped a lot, as I’m no expert in philosophy.
What I Didn’t Love: You know what I wish this book had more of? That’s right, Santa. I thought each chapter would touch upon something about Santa, then use philosophy as a starting ground to explore that topic. Nope. Instead, I read a lot about eroticism, Buddhism, physics, the Big Bang Theory, and more. Did Santa even make an appearance, you ask? Well, sure. Occasionally. Maybe at the beginning and end of each section. But not nearly enough for a Christmas book. No Yuletide cheer for me, sadly.
Final Thoughts: Meh. The philosophy made my brain hurt, as it tends to do. There wasn’t nearly enough of dear old Saint Nick. So while it was a pretty funny, easy read, I wouldn’t reread. Or even recommend, unless you love philosophy. If that’s the case, have at it! Instead, try the Pop Culture and Philosophy series. With topics ranging from the U2 to baseball to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there is something for everyone. And in each installment, the authors apply the tenets of philosophy to the actual elements of the topic in a systematic way. My favorite? The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: I Link Therefore I Am. Seriously great title, am I right?