Christmas - Philosophy for Everyone: Better Than a Lump of Coal


From Santa, elves and Ebenezer Scrooge, to the culture wars and virgin birth, Christmas - Philosophy for Everyone explores a host of philosophical issues raised by the practices and beliefs surrounding Christmas.

  • Offers thoughtful and humorous philosophical insights into the most widely celebrated holiday in the Western world
  • Contributions come from a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy,...
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From Santa, elves and Ebenezer Scrooge, to the culture wars and virgin birth, Christmas - Philosophy for Everyone explores a host of philosophical issues raised by the practices and beliefs surrounding Christmas.

  • Offers thoughtful and humorous philosophical insights into the most widely celebrated holiday in the Western world
  • Contributions come from a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, theology, religious studies, English literature, cognitive science and moral psychology
  • The essays cover a wide range of Christmas themes, from a defence of the miracle of the virgin birth to the relevance of Christmas to atheists and pagans
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"'Philosophy' here means not the serious study of logic, metaphysics, and so on, but something closer to ‘a collection of interesting ideas and arguments', an eclectic amalgam of popular psychology, sociology and morality ... Be irenic by all means, but to allow your opponent to win before you have even begun is to eviscerate the arguments and discussion that are the very reason for this book." (New Directions, 1 December 2011)

"For those more philosophically trained or inclined, the utilization of these philosophical works within the context of the great Christmas debate provide an alternative dimension into classic philosophical arguments of ethics and sociological structures, not typically revealed in academic literature." (Metapsychology, 30 September 2011)

"Wickedly humorous and innovative philosophical insights in a range of essays on Christmas themes make you think more than twice about the most widely celebrated holiday in the Western world." (, December 2010)"Still, it contains several thoughtful and bruising entries, the perfect mix for this time of year". (CBC News, 21 December 2010) 

"This great new book, in fine Socratic fashion, probes the meaning of Christmas, asking challenging questions that help us reflect on how we celebrate the birth of Jesus." (The Englewood Review of Books, January 2011)

"It seems that this time of year most of us are consumed with, well, consuming, whether it's indulgent holiday fare or gift giving. But if you've ever found yourself contemplating some of the deeper aspects of the season, Christmas Philosophy for Everyone offers insight into the season of giving with thought and humor". (Urban Baby, 17 December 2010)

From Santa Claus, elves and Ebenezer Scrooge to rampant consumerism and controversial questions of multiculturalism and the virgin birth, this immensely entertaining and thought-provoking volume, in the oft-audacious Philosophy for Everyone series, explores a plethora of philosophical issues raised by the practices and beliefs surrounding Christmas." (, 16 December 2010)

"It all goes to show that philosophy can engage comfortably with popular themes after all - in this case, by offering an antidote to festive semiotic overload, and bringing a little reason to the season". (Time Out, 16 December 2010)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781444330908
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Series: Philosophy for Everyone Series, #5
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott C. Lowe is professor of Philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. His current interest is in the political philosophy of Richard Rorty. He is the editor, along with Steven Hales, of Delight in Thinking: An Introduction to Philosophy Reader (2006).

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Joining the Manger to the Sleigh?

Introduction Stephen Nissenbaum Nissenbaum, Stephen 1

Part I Christmas: In the Beginning Scott C. Lowe Lowe, Scott C. 9

1 Jesus, Mary, and Hume: On the Possibility of the Virgin Birth Scott C. Lowe Lowe, Scott C. 11

2 The Virgin Birth: Authentic Christmas Magic Jason Southworth Southworth, Jason 24

3 Putting the "Yule" Back in "Yuletide" Victor Lyons Lyons, Victor 36

Part II Is Celebrating Christmas Really A Good Idea? Todd Preston Preston, Todd 47

4 Armed for the War on Christmas Todd Preston Preston, Todd 49

5 Christmas Mythologies: Sacred and Secular Scott F. Aiken Aiken, Scott F. 59

6 The Significance of Christmas for Liberal Multiculturalism Guy Bennett-Hunter Bennett-Hunter, Guy 70

7 Crummy Commercials and BB Guns: Son-of-a-Bitch Consumerism in a Christmas Classic Mark Mercer Mercer, Mark 80

Part III Santa: A Deeper Look Dustin Nelson Nelson, Dustin 91

8 The Mind of Santa Claus and the Metaphors He Lives By Dustin Nelson Nelson, Dustin 93

9 Making a List, Checking It Twice: The Santa Claus Surveillance System S. Waller Waller, S. 104

10 You'd Better Watch Out Noreen O'Connor O'Connor, Noreen 114

11 Santa's Sweatshop: Elf Exploitation for Christmas Will Williams Williams, Will 125

Part IV The Morality Of Christmas Matthew Brophy Brophy, Matthew 137

12 Against the Santa Claus Lie: The Truth We Should Tell Our Children Matthew Brophy Brophy, Matthew 139

13 Lying to Children about Santa:. Why It's Just Not Wrong David Kyle Johnson Johnson, David Kyle 151

14 Putting Claus Back into Christmas Era Gavrielides Gavrielides, Era 161

15 Scrooge Learns it All in One Night: Happiness and the Virtues of Christmas Steven D. Hales Hales, Steven D. 172

Part V Christmas Through Others' Eyes Dane Scott Scott, Dane 183

16 Holly Jolly Atheists: A Naturalistic Justification for Christmas Dane Scott Scott, Dane 185

17 Heaven, Hecate, and Hallmark: Christmas in Hindsight Ruth Tallman Tallman, Ruth 197

18 Festivus and the Need for Seasonal Absurdity Marion G. Mason Mason, Marion G. 208

19 Common Claus: Santa as Cross-Cultural Connection Caleb Holt Holt, Caleb 219

Afterword: Santa Claus Cindy Scheopner Scheopner, Cindy 231

Notes on Contributors: Santa's Elves Cindy Scheopner Scheopner, Cindy 234

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