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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A satisfying seasonal stroll through an assortment of philosophical conundrums. The varied traditions of Christmas, both secular and religious, are taken as a starting point to uncover a series of surprisingly deep moral questions. These range from how charitable should we be (much more) to whether we should eat turkeys (probably not). Hobbes, Hume, Mill, Kant, Pascal, Wittgenstein and others are drawn into the debate, but the tone is kept light and accessible by Christmas-themed examples and stories. Religious aspects are handled particularly deftly, the author taking a sceptical/humanistic but sympathetic approach to the meanings given to peace, faith, miracles, tradition and God. Will at least liven up your after-dinner family arguments and probably leave you eager to explore the issues more.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2004
I was already a big fan of Law's books (especially The Philosophy Gym)and this didn't disappoint. The Xmas Files is very entertaining. It also gets you thinking about the kind of stuff that usually just passes us by. All fourteen chapters are short, breezy reads. Some are intended as bit of fun, like "The Santa Claus puzzle" in which Law appears to prove that Santa exists. But others, despite the wry humour, are surprisingly illuminating (especially "wrapping the presents" which really made me think). Some are even touching ("Christmas card kitsch"). Law may be cashing in on the Xmas theme, but make no mistake this is a genuinely insightful book written by a real philosopher.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This isn't quite your usual light-hearted stocking-filler. At first I wondered if I'd made a mistake in buying it, but the initial 'heaviness' wears off and you can get quite interested.
For example :
* by considering what to do about an unwanted gift, you get to consider the views of Kant & Mill.
* whether there is a God, and whether God is Good or Evil, takes us through the thoughts of Hume.
* Peace on Earth and whether War is Just brings us to St Thomas Aquinas.
The role of Tradition and Religious Faiths bring us to a close with a very thoughtful discussion on whether we've lost our sense of Community, and whether Christmas should be used by all, non-Christian as well as Christian, as one of the few remaining common Traditions to bring us back together.
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2004
I came to this book wih high expectations, as someone who has a degree in Philosphy and is a keen student of Christmas. The book does raise some serious questions but in the end it was too slight to get me excited.
The book explores issues relating to the moral questions of Christmas - should we give all we have to the poor? Could Jesus really be God and human? In truth he uses Christmas a peg to hang many questions on that have little to do with Christmas. His treatment of the questions is thoughtful but rarely does more than scratch the surface.
As an introduction to moral philosphy the book is fine, and the Christmas hook may draw some people in, but I wanted more from the book than it was able to deliver.
Wayne Clarke, Liverpool
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