Santa Claus exists. And tooth fairies. And mermaids. Oh, and so do you…

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Small children believe in Santa Claus. They are thrilled when the presents arrive and even try to find proof that he exists by placing cookies for the saint to eat along with a glass of milk…

But we are grown ups. We know that he doesn’t exist.

And we all struggle and question ourselves. Should we let them be? Should we perpetuate the lie or should we inform our children that he is just a fantasy, along with fairies and unicorns?

Such a wrong dilemma.

Rational people tied up into the chains that they created.

Could we be more wrong?

I am not going to get into the ‘Saint Nicolas was a real person’ line of thinking. Indeed Saint Nicolas was a real person and he indeed gave gifts to the poor. One could simply argue (and he would not be far away from the truth) that it is the spirit of Saint Nicolas – a very real person that did exist – that still endures and makes all those presents be. Every parent follows his example when dressing up like Santa Claus (a name Saint Nicolas came be known by because of his Dutch nickname, Sintar Klaas – see here).

I could also go into more extreme arguments, like the quantum superposition argument. One can read here an interesting article on how Santa Claus exists and is in fact a macroscopic quantum phenomenon, with its wavefunction collapsing when into ‘dad’ when Santa Claus is observed. It is quite amusing to see how our definition of reality and the limited knowledge we have about it can give birth to multiple ideas that question the most common of our beliefs. Do not take this article as an amusement article only. Our knowledge for reality IS limited. Our senses and NOT reliable. We know NOTHING about being or existence per se. As Oscar Wilde once said, the most serious things are said in jokes…

But there is a more fundamental line of thinking that can explain and justify the existence of Santa Claus. As Harmonia Philosophica has tried to explain for years and years, asking the simple questions is the way of true philosophers. And as many of you know, philosophers have been trying to find out answer to the most fundamental questions of humankind but with no success. Many might believe that this means they have failed. But that would be incorrect. For the purpose of true philosophers is not to lead to the truth, but to make it clear that we can know nothing about it. Because such thing as the ‘truth’ does not exist. (Non-thinking is the way towards the cosmos, try to read more in Harmonia Philosophica about it).

So let us re-examine our question.

“Does Santa Claus exist?”

Aristotle once said that any question contains its answer. So true. “Does Santa Claus exist?”. A phenomenally simple and innocent question that is loaded with so many beliefs and so much dogmatism. A question saying so many things about the people who ask it. It implies that we know about existence. It implies that we know who and what exists and what does not. It implies that non-existence is also… existent. Last but certainly not least, by asking about the existence of Santa Claus we clearly imply that he might not. We wouldn’t be asking for the existence of our self for example, would we?

“Does Santa exist?”

Let me ask another thing though.

What about you?

Do YOU exist?

Foolish question it seems. But not so foolish after careful consideration. How do I know you are there? Perhaps because of some undeniable proof? Should I take your word for it? Why should I believe you are a human and not a perfectly programmed robot? How could I know you are saying because of your own free will and not because your cells are programmed to do so? Could you convince me your are not a zombie? (The Zombie argument is a cool argument by the way for the existence or non-existence of consciousness)

Mermaids exist. They just hide beneath rocks when we look for them…

~ unknown kid

What is more, what IS existence? What does it mean to exist? Philosophers for thousands of years have not solved that problem so how could you even consider saying that you exist? What IS Being? The greatest philosophers of all times failed to give an answer. So how could you be so arrogant to claim that you “are” and others not? What IS reality? Who can claim that he or she has access to that magical thing called ‘reality’ without discarding thousands of years of philosophy trying and failing to find out what that thing is? Even for the phenomena we observe, the surface of the ocean we swim in, our senses and science can only explain a minor fraction of that world we capture with our senses; let alone things that lie beyond them. So what makes you so arrogant as to ask such a dramatic question?

The only argument you have for your existence is your feeling and knowledge that you do. Feelings and knowledge that you cannot transmit to others no matter how hard you try.

Guess what.

Santa Claus exists for children for exactly the same reasons!

This is not a shallow trick-argument to solve the problem. No. As already mentioned above, our total lack of knowledge regarding what existence and being are is totally true. Our total inability to know what ‘reality’ is also is something totally true. What we really KNOW are the things we have immediate experience of. Our existence. Our thoughts. Our consciousness. A peach we eat. A lonely summer night. The love of our parents that are here. Santa Claus bringing gifts which we sleep…

Something magical.

And because of that, truer that anything can ever be.

You see, magic in life is something we forgot. And yet, it still drives our destiny.

Love is magical. Our own life is magical. Santa is magical.

But we got carried away. And again we forgot the simple question we started with. “What about you?” we asked. Tell me my child, do you exist? How do you know? More importantly. How do I know? All my science, all my knowledge, all my philosophy cry out loud that I could never be certain for the existence of anyone else than me. And yet, I am certain for your existence. More than I am certain about my own!

You see…

It is not Santa Claus that is magic.

It was never a question of whether he existed.

It is all about you my child.

It was about you from the beginning.

You are magical!

Believing in good in a place full of evil. Loving and caring without expecting anything in return.

You DO exist!

Now go get your presents.

Santa was here while you were asleep…

Advanced tool. Prehistoric people. Tears and laughter…

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Artefacts such as bows and arrows do not necessarily prove our ancestors had sophisticated reasoning and understanding of how these tools worked, new research suggests.

Instead, such items could have emerged from an “accumulation of improvements made across generations” – with each generation understanding no more than the last.

The new study, by the University of Exeter and the Catholic University of Lille, does not question humanity’s capacity for “enhanced causal reasoning” – but argues this did not necessarily drive the development of technologies such as bows, boats and houses. (1)

Blessed we are.

Through aeons of life.

We manage to die.

Creating nothing.

At the end, all will perish.

Are you afraid to smile?

Calculating. Without calculating.

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Engineers have designed a metamaterial device that can solve integral equations. The device works by encoding parameters into the properties of an incoming electromagnetic wave; once inside, the device’s unique structure manipulates the wave in such a way that it exits encoded with the solution to a pre-set integral equation for that arbitrary input. (1)

Calculating. Based on rules.

Rules imposed by humans.

Humans thinking.

Thinking based on logic.

Logic based on axioms.

Axioms based on nothing.

Calculating.

So irrational.

So wise…

Painting… Praying… Reading…

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During the European Middle Ages, literacy and written texts were largely the province of religious institutions. Richly illustrated manuscripts were created in monasteries for use by members of religious institutions and by the nobility. Some of these illuminated manuscripts were embellished with luxurious paints and pigments, including gold leaf and ultramarine, a rare and expensive blue pigment made from lapis lazuli stone.

In a study published in Science Advances, an international team of researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of York shed light on the role of women in the creation of such manuscripts with a surprising discovery — the identification of lapis lazuli pigment embedded in the calcified dental plaque of a middle-aged woman buried at a small women’s monastery in Germany around 1100 AD. Their analysis suggests that the woman was likely a painter of richly illuminated religious texts. (1)

Reading. Writing. Praying.

We see the evidence.

To prove that something happened.

We analyze the dental plaque.

To know what this woman did.

And yet, all her efforts are cancelled.

By our lust for proof.

By our eagerness for knowledge.

For the books she helped write, called on for a different kind of knowledge. Knowledge not based on books or proof. Knowledge not based on what you see or hear. But wisdom based on the unseen and the unprovable. For it is that which is the only thing worth seeking in this irrational life governed by the unseen and the unprovable.

That woman did write or supported the writing of holy books. And she did so without the need to prove that to anyone. Her belief was strong enough not to ask for such earthly manifests of recognition. For she recognized the true essence of herself in the humility of a God who came to Earth as a Man and who was recognized by only a few fishermen.

So, the next time you open such a book, remember.

It is not a book written to be read.

But a book which is already read and that is why it was written…

Give. So that you can receive…

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The happiness we feel after a particular event or activity diminishes each time we experience that event, a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. But giving to others may be the exception to this rule, according to research forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In two studies, psychology researchers Ed O’Brien (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) and Samantha Kassirer (Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management) found that participants’ happiness did not decline, or declined much slower, if they repeatedly bestowed gifts on others versus repeatedly receiving those same gifts themselves. (1)

We like to receive. And we love to give.

But why do any of those two?

How can giving be meaningful if receiving is not?

How can receiving be meaningless if giving is not?

When you see two obvious paths in front of you…

Try and look out for the third one!

It is the goal of philosophy to question the obvious.

And here we have two very obvious options…

A wise man will never ask for anything. But neither will he give anything back. In a cosmos built of dirt, there is no point to try to reach the stars. In a cosmos full of butterflies, there is nothing you can receive. Look at the calm lake. Feel the deep dark forest inside you.

You cannot give anything to anyone. For there is only you.

There is no point in receiving anything. For it is you who will get it.

Try to clap with one hand.

You can do it.