- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Dutton; 1st Edition edition (October 16, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525954392
- ISBN-13: 978-0525954392
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation Hardcover – October 16, 2014
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Praise for Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation
"A witty, provocative, and profound exploration of reality, meaning, morality, and yes, Santa Claus." -- The Huffington Post
"Kaplan's deadpan style lets you read this as a serious philosophical treatise -- but you can also take it as a well-done farce." - New York Post
"Kaplan's investigation into the ontology of Santa Claus is erudite, readable and exceedingly funny." - Kirkus Reviews
"Eric Kaplan's Does Santa Exist? is the funniest book of philosophy since...well, ever."
--Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama and author of Life in Hell
"If you can put this book down, you should see a doctor. Kaplan's message burrows into the mind, beats up a few beliefs and then leaves with a triumphant bang.”
--Michael Gazzaniga, Professor of Psychology University of California Santa Barbara, Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, and Founder of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society
“Exceptionally interesting, rigorous and I found it not only weirdly funny but deeply moving.”
--Hubert Dreyfus, Professor of Philosophy, University of California Berkeley, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
"This is truly a book that I wish I had written. Eric brings great clarity of thought to some of the deepest questions of the mind and our understanding of the world. And he's really funny."
--Daniel Levitin, New York Times Bestselling author of This is Your Brain on Music, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at McGill University, Dean of Arts and Humanities, Minerva Schools at KGI
“Eric Kaplan is more than a talented comedy writer. He is a deep soul, an intellectual master, and a brilliant communicator of the subtleties of the intersections between faith and logic. He will have you laughing, thinking harder than you've ever thought, and falling in love with the process of intellectual exploration all over again. A masterpiece.”
--Mayim Bialik, PhD (neuroscience, UCLA), actress known for her roles as Blossom Russo in Blossom and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory
"I'm not sure I've ever read a more peculiar book. Fortunately, it's also smart, wise, charming, lucid, entertaining, big-hearted and maybe even profound."
--Kurt Andersen, New York Times Bestselling author of Heyday, host of Studio 360, and former editor of Harvard Lampoon
“Kaplan finds just the right balance between rigor and humor, seriousness and irreverence. You learn something (even about Santa), you laugh out loud, and you can’t help but enjoy the mixture of philosophy and edgy jokes. This book is not just clever and a very engaging read, it’s intelligent. I can’t wait for his next piece, presumably on the Easter Bunny.”
—David Poeppel, Professor of Psychology and Neural Science New York University
"Eric Kaplan's engaging book explores the big questions we need to find more time for, like: what should we believe, what makes us happy, and how should we react to suffering and death. In a clear, non-polemical style, he moves effortlessly between philosophy, neuroscience, ethics, and religion. His contrast between rationality, mysticism, and humor as responses to life's conflicts is especially original and convincing. I plan to work this book into my course "Comedy, Tragedy, and Religion."
- John Morreall, Professor of Religious Studies, College of William & Mary, author of Comedy, Tragedy, and Religion and Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor
"One of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking books I've ever read. Eric Kaplan will comvince you that comedy provides as much insight as logic or mysticism into the fundamental nature of reality."
- Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Caltech and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe
About the Author
ERIC KAPLAN is a co-executive producer of (and writer for) the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Previously he wrote for the Late Show with David Letterman, Futurama (for which he won an Emmy Award), and Flight of the Conchords. Kaplan graduated from Harvard and is currently completing his PhD dissertation in philosophy at UC Berkeley.
Top customer reviews
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On his way to an answer, Kaplan takes the reader on a wild ride through philosophy, science, mysticism, and mortality. He glides effortlessly from the Santa story to important questions in logic, ethics, psychology, and the social function of myth.
His cast of characters includes not only Santa Claus, but ancient Greek philosophers, medieval Jewish mystics, 20th-century Cambridge dons, cranky Harvard academics, and the Buddha. He takes on hedonism, neuroscience, passion, self-fulfilling beliefs, folklore, and how to stay sane even though married.
It's definitely not your grandfather's philosophy book.
In the end, Kaplan's journey is almost Talmudic. It's less about reaching a definite conclusion -- does Santa exist or doesn't he? -- than it is about looking at the issue from every interesting angle and seeing what we find. He does finally take a position about Santa's existence, but I won't spoil it by telling you.
The real conclusion, if any, is this: That thinking about life and simply living it are not contradictory, but complementary. Logic and intuition, contemplating eternity and being in the moment, are different sides of the same thing; and we do ourselves a disservice if we embrace either to the exclusion of the other. Thus, the answer to one of Kaplan's own questions, "Should we engage with reality, or feel, or think about it?", is "Yes."
We are both mortal and immortal; limited and infinite; bound to this instant of time, and free to soar beyond eternity. When you understand that, then you've understood Kaplan's book.
In his own Philosophical Investigations (which oddly make no mention of Santa), Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that "I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking, but if possible, to stimulate them to have thoughts of their own."
Kaplan succeeds spectacularly. I'll be thinking about the ideas in his book for quite a while.
Most recent customer reviews
It is funny at points, but philosophy books bore me senseless.