14

Consider the following reasons why the answer could be "yes":

Plato-ish: The Santa Clauses in the children's minds, as well as the Santa Clauses you meet in the malls are the projections of the Santa Claus Form. We witness a wide variety of what seems to be projections of Santa Claus Form. That establishes the existence of the Santa Claus Form.

Aristotle-ish: The forms are but the abstractions of particular objects. Consider the Santa Clauses we meet at the malls. Take the traits that are in common among that and that are usually different from other objects; the totality of such traits is Santa Claus the Entertainer. Now consider the Santa Clauses of the children's imaginations, and derive the totality of the traits common and specific to imagined Santa Clauses. The totality of such traits is Santa Claus the Dream. Now perform the next classification step be intersecting the traits of the above Santa Clauses and arrive to the virtual object Santa Claus, whose virtual existence we just established.

Are the above arguments sufficient to establish the objective existence of Santa Claus, to the joy of the kids worldwide?

  • 2
    What a nice X-mas question. Remember that Saint Nicholas had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus. – draks ... Dec 20 '13 at 12:46
  • 1
    The many worlds interpretation suggests he probably exists. – obelia Dec 20 '13 at 21:36
  • The idea of Santa Claus, or the idea that we have of him today, originally came from the pickers of amanita muscaria mushroom, who picked these mushrooms in a red and white outfit - like Santa Claus's iconic costume. The idea of Santa Claus coming down the chimney was brought about because these pickers came down the chimney as the front door was blocked due to the snow. I guess people treated these mushrooms as gifts, and it grew to what we think of Santa Claus today. – hd. Dec 23 '13 at 17:29
  • 1
    As Linus used to say, define "exists". – Mitch Dec 24 '13 at 15:45
  • 1
    The story is absolute it is rendered through the seven needles of wisdom. It is not subject to facts. Enjoy its benevolence it liberates one from the land of dread at christmas time. – Analogue girl Dec 25 '13 at 21:53

10 Answers 10

3

It depends on what you mean by "objective" and "existence." Personally, I'd be very well-disposed to acknowledge that Santa has at the least a functional existence --after all, some entity delivers gifts to all those children, even it it isn't a physical human being dressed in red to who lives at the North Pole. So, you might say that Santa exists, we're just significantly wrong about the nature and the details of his existence.

With that said, you might want to keep in mind that I'm also inclined to grant "existence", under my definition, to any number of conceptual and collective entities who other people might be inclined to argue against.

8

Santa Exists (axiomatic)

Thesis - Santa does not exist; anti-thesis - Santa does exist; Synthesis - Santa does exist in some possible world, and hopefully ours. (Hegel & Lewis)

Santa exists in the best of all possible worlds. This is the best of all possible worlds. Hence Santa exists in this world (Liebniz in an Aristotelian syllogism).

Santa does not exist physically; but he supervenes on the world (physicalism)

I am Santa (Ayn Rands ethical egoism)

Ana-al-Santa (Al-Hallaj - the sufi)

I see Santa in the sky hunting bison (Black Elk)

Zarathrustra comes down from the mountain. Have they not heard? Do they not know? I must hurry. Men in the market - they come and go talking of the loss and profit; men asleep yet walking; men asleep yet talking; the world darkly asleep. That draught of cool mountain air has awoken me - I shall awake them. This news keep s me most feverish awake; as a fever it runs through me; as a fever I shall speak out. The market-place beckons, and around all manner of men and all manner of manners - they dress fine these men: "Listen! And be alarmed, raise up thy voices and weep, and rend thus thy clothes and rub ash in thine hair as your fathers have done and their fathers before them! I have news and it hangs heavy in my heart, but also a fierce and subtle joy I know not how or where runs through me and makes me speak - a fever of subtle and unsubtle joy. Oh men, wish that I could be silent like the wise we have known and revered; Oh, men of the market place, Listen! SANTA IS DEAD! Oh tearful Men of the Market-Place, Santa is gone! [he outstretches both arms] Santa never here, never there & never everywhere - never seen; Santa missed! the Being of Santa escapes like void; the Being of Santa escapes all totalising logic. Thus: Santa is not an absolute free spirit; thus: Santa is a becoming-free-spirit; The world wills into existence free spirits - this is its purpose; Oh crowd of men, your faces up-turned to me and eager, Listen! Rejoice! Take good heed! Gladden hearts! Santa will exist and is the worlds purpose" (Nietszchian teleological Santa).

Santa is the World (Spinozian immanence)

The world is a mode of Santa (again Spinoza)

Santa does not exist as a whole, but atomically (Democritus)

In my world there is a Santa (solipsism)

Everything is Santa (Santa monism)

Santa Exists and is watching you (Big Brotherism/NSA'ism/Panoptic Santa)

Take you inner Santa for a walk: Being both Santa and neither Santa - Schizoid Santa, being the meridian of being and the flight of thought via an Immanent plane through speeds accelarated and intensified; Elves his correlative in tempo; micro-santastic in a clamour of being; Santa-Sainta, Sainta-Santa,Santa-Sainta - our chant of Santa; Santa/Elf and Elf/Santa - two virtuistic modes through difference enact and enunciate the World-without-Santa and the World-With-Santa. A thousand Santas on a thousand plateaus is the image of our Santa; endlessly multiplying Santa our logic of Santa; Santa divided and saintly healed; Santa thus unending; endless Santa; Santa after Saint; Saint Santa materialises and territorialises the dematerialised ethic of Santa. Saint Santa sanctified but never sanctimonius.

Santa REX.

(Santa Deleuze & Sainta Guattari)

  • Okay, the D+G-esque babble made me grin. (Even if somewhat unfair.) – Joseph Weissman Dec 23 '13 at 16:20
  • Its a significant fraction of the fun of D+G! – Mozibur Ullah Dec 23 '13 at 16:25
7

Empirically, no.

In our imaginations, yes. That is essentially what you have referred to in the conception by children from images and symbols which seem to refer to their existence. You cannot prove an ideal conception conceived purely from objects situated in reality. For one could almost conceive of any imaginary object if we put them together.

Consider what David Hume says, that there is a difference between 'matters of fact' and 'relations of ideas', in Chapter 4 in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

To simplify, matters of fact are things that, no matter what word we assign to it, are true in this world because they exist. They are established by evidence, which in turn are presaged upon 'cause and effect'.

Relations of ideas are when, based on certain ideas we hold in our mind, establish them to be true by the mere thought of it. This includes mathematical and geometrical ideas, but also ideas we put together from different 'matters of fact'. That is, things that we hold true from evidence.

So Santa Claus is a combination of many ideas from evidence put together as an imaginary whole. The idea of a man in a red costume, with his moose and a some 'human' looking elves, are taken from real life. We distort this picture by making this man and his moose fly, jumping into the chimneys of houses, carrying a host of goods into them (even apartments without chimneys), and give him a sense of humor.

This is the imaginary picture we transmit to children, through word-of-mouth and images we draw and enact, therefore to them, there is a possibility that this imaginary figure is real, given that the empirical evidence was not told to them truthfully, but turned into a festive season made real.

4

Some peoples views on Santa Clause. I hope my attempt at some seasonal apprioriate humor would be enjoyed! (And Up voted!)

  • The Einsteinian view would be that whether Mr. Claus exist or not depends on your point of view.
  • David Russel would tell you if you ask him if he believes that Santa Clause exist? Where is the evidence?
  • If you ask Rihcard Dawkins if he believes if Santa Clause exist then he would tell you that we do not have the right to conjor up a terminator to a merry regress.
  • Plato would tell you that belief in Santa is a serious mental disease.
  • Socrates would have the view that true wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and all the Santas around us.
  • Carroll Bryant would tell you that the only thing standing between you and a merry Christmas is Santa.
  • Friedrich Nietzshce would tell you that those who fight with Santas should look at himself as to not become a Santa himself.
  • Sidney B. Hubbard would say all things being Santas, only Santa things matter.
  • William of Ockham would tell you that Santas should not be multiplied unnecessarily.
  • Voltaire said about Santa that if he did not exist that it would be neccessary to invent him
  • Martin Heidegger would say he who gives great gifts often makes great Santas.
  • Sir Francis Bacon said that A little Christmas inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in Christmas bringeth men’s minds about to religion.
  • Socrate said my advice to you is to celebrate Christmas: If you find a good Santa you'll be happy; If not, you'll become a philosopher.

I hope the quotes where not too obscure.

2

According to a (hopefully not too well-known) logic puzzle by Smullyan, slightly changed:

Philosopher A: Santa Claus does exist, if I don't err.

Philosopher B (sarcastically): Well, indeed, if you don't err.

Philosopher A: So you accept my sentence as true, which means Santa Claus must indeed exists. For, when I do not err, he exists. But If I do err, and my sentence was nevertheless true, then the conclusion must be true.

(In the original, it is the unicorn, whose existence is established.)

2

As far as I know, Santa Claus does not exist. I.e. nothing satisfies the description 'kindly old man dressed in red and white, who brings presents to all the children of the world on Christmas Eve'.

As to the two arguments, the first confuses the noun phrase 'the idea [or form] of Santa Claus', which refers to the really existing idea of Santa Claus, with the noun phrase 'Santa Claus', which refers to nothing at all. The second makes a similar confusion between "The totality of traits attributed to Santa Claus" and "Santa Claus".

  • Following your reasoning, the number 3 does not exist either. Indeed, although in the world you can find three chairs or three houses, or even the symbol "3", nothing satisfies the description of 3 as given by mathematicians. – Bob Dec 30 '18 at 19:45
1

I think they suffice, but as an auxiliary argument you could use that of Jean Paul Sartre, that existence precedes essence: if a jolly fat man in red gives presents to children, that person necessarily is Santa Claus. But the kids might be too busy playing with their new toys to listen.

  • 5
    I appreciate this spirit of the answer, but I think it badly misrepresents Sartre. You seem to be giving an essential description of Santa (jolly fat man in red) and then stating that anyone who meets those characteristics is Santa --that's precisely the mode of thought Sartre is opposing. – Chris Sunami Dec 20 '13 at 2:42
0

I don't think he exists :) The mall Santa Claus is as much of a Santa Claus as a cat wearing a duck costume is a duck.

Does a jolly fat man giving children gifts? Yes. That person is partial Santa Claus Does that same jelly fat man live in North Pole? Yes. That person is very likely to be Santa Claus. Does he have punch of reindeer and has a slay that flies? No. --> That person is not Santa Claus.

When someone satisfies these and many many other criteria then the answer will be yes. Who comes up with the criteria? well that is another question... and that is why Santa Claus will never exist.

  • Well, the requirement that Santa Claus fits all the Santa Claus criteria in your mind may be too stringent. I have a childhood recollection of my preschool - with the giant fence around it, high ceiling, omniscient teachers… Decades later I visited it again and saw a fence waste high, 8' ceilings, and mediocre at best educators. And somehow that didn't raise a suspicion that the preschool of my childhood doesn't exist and never existed. – Michael Dec 22 '13 at 20:14
  • say for example you wanted to prove someone is a teacher? or a race car driver? (or Santa Claus). Wouldn't you be able to prove that those people are what they claim to be by answering questions like i mentioned above. I mean, if you ask some one do you drive a race car and they say "no" you would know they are not a race car driver, right? same if you ask someone if they live on North Pole and they say no you can conclude they are not Santa Claus because that is one the the characteristic of the fellow. – user5064 Dec 22 '13 at 21:30
0

I assume that you make a joke to remind us of the difference between an idea and the object to which the idea refers. The idea of "Santa Claus" exists. But a person to which the idea refers has not been detected. Hence we should adherere to the hypothesis that a person "Santa Claus" does not exist - until reality refutes our hypothesis.

By the way: I appreciate many of the parodies above.

-3

Santa is not real, yet us humans need to believe in things that are not real as it is the only way they can become.

With his 20th Discworld novel Hogfather, genius storyteller Terry Pratchett explains how the belief in Santa (the Hogfather is the Discworld's equivalent of Santa) could be regarded as practice for the belief in other fantasies.

The following is the transcript of a discussion between Death and his daughter from the TV-movie adaptation:

 S : What would've happened
     if you hadn't saved him?
 D : Yes.
     The sun would not have risen.
 S : Then what would've happened?
 D : A mere ball of flaming gas
     would have illuminated the world.
 S : Alright, I'm not stupid.
     You're saying that humans need
     fantasies to make life bearable.
 D : No.
     Humans need fantasy to be human.
     To be the place where the
     falling angel meets the rising ape.
 S : With tooth fairies, Hogfathers...
     Yes.
 D : As practice, you have to start out
     learning to believe the little lies.
 S : So we can believe the big ones?
 D : Yes.
     Justice, mercy, duty,
     that sort of thing.
 S : But they're not the same at all.
 D : You think so?
     Then, take the universe and
     grind it down to the finest powder
     and sieve it
     through the finest sieve,
     and then show me one atom of justice,
     one molecule of mercy.
     And yet, you try to act as if there
     is some ideal order in the world,
     as if there is some...
     some rightness in the universe
     by which it may be judged.
 S : But people have got to believe that,
     or what's the point?
 D : You need to believe in things
     that aren't true.
     How else can they become?
  • 2
    Stack Exchange is not a network for exchanging opinions, but rather factual information. This answer essentially isn't more than stating your opinion. Please improve this question by providing references to philosophers supporting your theory (or delete your answer). For more information, see this meta post. – Keelan May 11 '15 at 20:27
  • @Keelan : This website is about exchanging information on philosophy. Who qualifies as a philosopher may be controversial, I guess, but IMO Terry Pratchett is a greater philosopher than eg. Descartes or CS Lewis and I believe his position on Santa Claus (as expressed in the excerpt from Hogfather) most definitely qualifies as an adequate response to the question asked. – John Slegers May 12 '15 at 10:15
  • The problem is that you say "this is true" instead of "Pratchett says this". – Keelan May 12 '15 at 10:37
  • @Keelan : That's because I don't distinguish between both. I consider his argument to be so self-evident and blatantly obvious that it totally boggles my mind how anyone can disagree with that position, really... – John Slegers May 12 '15 at 10:41
  • You may not distinguish, but clearly others do - hence the downvotes and low quality flags on this post. Please review the help center, tour and the various posts on Philosophy Meta regarding subjectivity here for how to write good answers. Or don't, and we'll have to continue downvoting and flagging your posts. – Keelan May 12 '15 at 10:46

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