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Does It Matter? Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality
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Does It Matter? Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  611 ratings  ·  26 reviews
This classic series of essays represents Alan Watts's thinking on the astonishing problems caused by our dysfunctional relationship with the material environment. Here, with characteristic wit, a philosopher best known for his writings and teachings about mysticism and Eastern philosophy gets down to the nitty-gritty problems of economics, technology, clothing, cooking, an ...more
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Published February 1st 2010 by New World Library (first published 1958)
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Heather
I found this book on our shared library shelf at work. Someone had sloppily written "No" in black marker just beneath the question mark on the cover. And perhaps that is the right answer to the question of the book's title. But then I'm not sure there truly is one.

I had not previously heard of Alan Watts, except perhaps in idle passing. Now, I want to read everything he's ever said or written. I enjoyed it that much.

In this series of essays, Alan Watts gives a snarky, matter-of-fact, spiritual
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Catie
"All Buddhism is really summed up in Right View, because Right View is having no special view, no fixed view."

"For when the individual is defined and felt as the separate personality or ego, he remains unaware that his actual body is a dancing pattern of energy that simply does not happen by itself."

"As Saint Augustine of Hippo put it when asked about the nature of time: 'I know what it is, but when you ask me I don't.'"

"'Evil' read backwards is 'live.'"

"All too easily, we confuse the world as w
...more
Benny
This collection of essays have some great insight on the futility of materialism. I particularly love the essays on money and food. I don't particularly agree with his theories on clothing, but I admire his willingness to wear suits when dealing with academia on the "when in Rome" clause. Of the seven short essays, most of them were a little too hippie-dippy for me, but the analysis of Huxley and Buddhism was interesting. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those toying with E ...more
Emily
Alan Watts, what a hippie.

This book is pretty dated, largely evidenced by the numerous analogies to "bringing pleasure to a beautiful woman," but his thesis is still pertinent--that we ignore materials in favor of symbols of reality..."we'd rather eat the menu than the meal". He supports this thesis by sounding off (with more than a dash of pretense) on everything from the design of a kitchen, men's business attire, and psychedelics. my favorite is when he compares a high heel to "a stag beetle
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Monica
Passionate, energetic, grand,occasionally verbose, romantic, idealistic, sentimental...and sometimes pop-style pretentious. This was the sense I get of Alan Watts from this collection of essays. Quite different from what I experienced in reading "Tao - The Watercourse Way" (which was the last book written by him, and was finished by his friend posthumously).

Still, Watts was entertaining and refreshing. I liked most of the first chapter on "Wealth vs Money" although it was a bit Utopian. His cal
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Travis Hosgood
This is definitely the most negative piece of work I've read from watts. Some pessimistic/ apocalyptic assumptions that didn't come true. However, it's still jam packed with goodies from one of the more interesting thinkers of the 20th century. Essays on wealth vs money, murder in the kitchen, clothes, and much more Buddhist philosophy. Ive yet to find any work of his that does not thoroughly apply to this day about the nature of the human condition. Only giving it three stars because I've liste ...more
Tracy
It was a wonderful reading ! It helped me keep my ego at a distance for it is only a symbol, something created by society. We must say the same about money. We seldom focus on the present, this is our biggest mistake. Don't take things seriously, we all die in the end. Life itself is a masquerade. What you think important is not. You think things are important because they are only related to symbols, what your parents taught you, or just the consequences of your hormones and bad thinking. Don't ...more
Steve Woods
This is a brilliant set of essays by one of the most brilliant philosophical minds of the 20th Century. While stripping bare many of the sacred cows of western culture by simply pointing up their absurdity he combines wit, humour and critical judgement into a pot pouri that had me rolling about the aisles- but also questioning. There is much to decry about the way our culture has evolved over the last 50 years and in these essays Watts does a magnificent job of pointing them up, he does however ...more
Abdulla Al Muhairi
هذا أول كتاب أقرأه لألن واتس، فيلسوف ومفكر بريطاني، عرفته من يوتيوب وأعجبني كلامه في مقطع هناك ولذلك اشتريت هذا الكتاب، المقالة الأولى في الكتاب هي أفضل مقالات الكتاب بعدها ينحدر مستوى الكتاب أو على الأقل يبدأ الكتاب في الحديث عن أمور تخص عقدي الستينات والسبعينات أكثر مما تناقش قضايا فكرية عامة.

خيبة أمل حقيقة خصوصاً انني كنت أتطلع لقراءة هذا الكتاب منذ وقت طويل، الكاتب لديه مؤلفات كثيرة، لذلك لا يمكن الحكم عليه من كتاب واحد.
Kenny
I'm a big fan of Alan Watts. He a very entertaining person to listen to and has an amazing perspective of reality and Western culture. I've found that when reading a book written by him I have to imagine the words as if they are spoken. His writing style isn't exactly written to be read, it's almost as if he has transcribed his speeches. It takes nothing from the book, but it tripped me up until I caught on.

Even if you have an extensive background in Eastern philosophy I definitely recommend rea
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Amit
Given that it was written so long ago it was a very succinct read. His insights were very fascinating. Want to read more of his work.
Texasmochi
Mar 09, 2010 Texasmochi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thos interested in Philosopy and Spirituality
Recommended to Texasmochi by: Karen
This book was given to me by Karen as I dipped my toes into the world of spirituality. At the time it was given to me (2000 or 2001) it was dog-eared and worn. I still have it in my favorite "I'd really like to read it again" basket.

At the same time I acquired a copy of The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. I read Taboo first - and this later. I must say I feel like I "got" Taboo more, but this book was clever - and I enjoyed it very much.
Jeffrey Bean
Entertaining and enlightening. Excellent.
Martin Röll
Did not enjoy this as much as I thought I would and did not read it completely. I found the writing style hard to bear. Maybe it was because most of the ideas are familiar to me and I just not had the patience to listen to them in a new presentation again. Maybe I will come back to Watts and/or this book later.

The end of the book has an essay on Daisetz Susuki which is brilliant and worth getting the book for alone.
Kathryn
I wanted this book to be so much better than it was... Not that it was bad, but it felt more like an historical document of the 60s-70s and less like pertinent (soft) philosophy for today.

His best article here is the first one: Wealth Versus Money. I also liked his short piece of Dr. Suzuki. After a plug like Watts's, I may have to go check out Dr. S. next.
Jessy Hamilton
Cynical. Watts drones on about any and everything after predicting the demise of the US by the year 2000. Not worth reading unless you're a Debbie downer looking for a philosophical framework from which to project your misery onto the world. Decent critique of the culture of academia in the introduction, but all down hill from there.
Alana
Grounded in the late sixties/early seventies view of anti-materialism, Alan Watts' short book of essays is little bit of hippie-dippy philosophy that is both naive and wise. Like a lot of idealists, his solutions to what ails the world are often simplistic, but his observations about our relationship with our goods is spot on.
Bob
The one thing that has really stuck with me from reading this book is that it won't be a materialist who destroys the world in nuclear holocaust, because a materialist loves the material too much for that. It will be a spiritual fanatic who will press the button that ends the world.
Mike
When I read an Alan Watts essay I feel as if he is grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking me silly, and telling to wake up and pay attention. There is energy and passion in his Buddhist and Hindu inspired philosophy, not to mention a lot of blunt force honesty.
Darkwalker
If I could live as Watts lived, perhaps I'd Be at peace. This book is inspiring even if the state of mind is nigh impossible to one living in a capitalist society.
Scott
really funny and relieving. watt's finally stops speaking abstractly and lays down wit and amazing insight on every topic.
Reid
Well, does it? Does it really?
David Schilling
More interesting thinking from Watts.
Courtney
i did not want to finish this.
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Alan Wilson Watts was a British philosopher, writer and speaker, who held both a Master's in Theology and a Doctorate of Divinity. Famous for his research on comparative religion, he was best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote over 25 books and numerous articles on subjects such as personal identity, the true nature of reality, higher con ...more
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“As Aristotle put it, the beginning of philosophy is wonder. I am simply amazed to find myself living on a ball of rock that swings around an immense spherical fire. I am more amazed that I am a maze—a complex wiggliness, an arabesque of tubes, filaments, cells, fibers, and films that are various kinds of palpitation in this stream of liquid energy.” 2 likes
“Money is a way of measuring wealth but is not wealth in itself. A chest of gold coins or a fat wallet of bills is of no use whatsoever to a wrecked sailor alone on a raft. He needs real wealth, in the form of a fishing rod, a compass, an outboard motor with gas, and a female companion. But this ingrained and archaic confusion of money with wealth is now the main reason we are not going ahead full tilt with the development of our technological genius for the production of more than adequate food, clothing, housing, and utilities for every person on earth.” 2 likes
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