As it's the holiday season I've had a definite overdose of holiday mythology. The bit that got me thinking the most was re-encountering the character E. Scrooge, of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", particularly in light of recent political/economic events in the US. How would a thoughtful philosopher characterize him and Dickens in this book? I'd not like to think that Dickens was engaging in mere sentimentality, that Scrooge is a character suitable merely for children, with no complexity to interest adults (though I'm aware "ACC" is mostly taught at the elementary school level). One of the talk-show hosts, I think it was Bill Maher, recently tried to cast Scrooge as simply a Republican, economically conservative. Is this a fair characterization? If we read the situation sentimentally, it's a moral tale against excessive greed. But the extent to which we should have a sentimental reaction to the economic plight of other people is an unanswered philosophical question, to my view. Is Dickens just being a moralist, trying to indoctrinate us with a simple message, or can Scrooge be read as an interesting character whose beliefs (prior to his conversion) have integrity and consistency?

I know exactly what you mean, I have always thought that poor old Scrooge got a rather bum deal from Dickens. The trouble with being uncharitable, though, which Dickens gets right is that it harms far more the potential giver rather than the recipient. Scrooge holds onto his money but is miserable and gets very little benefit from it, while those with little who are generous with it and their time also are much happier. In a sense, then, Scrooge sees the light and becomes generous not because he understands he ought to help others, but primarily because helping others helps him most of all.

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