Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nature, Man and Woman” as Want to Read:
Nature, Man and Woman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Nature, Man and Woman

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,132 ratings  ·  52 reviews
A provocative and enduring work that reexamines humanity's place in the natural world -- and the spirit's relation to the flesh -- in the light of Chinese Taoism.

That human beings stand separate from a nature that must be controlled, that the mind is somehow superior to the body, and that all sexuality entails a seduction -- a danger and a problem-are all assumptions upon
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 27th 1991 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1958)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nature, Man and Woman, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Nature, Man and Woman

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,132 ratings  ·  52 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Aug 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Can't go wrong with Alan Watts. Can't go right either. Opposites implied and all.

Jan 07, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Arun
Watts says: "We know that the fish swim in constant fear of their lives, that they hang motionless so as not to be seen, and dart into motion because they are just nerves, startled into a jump by the tiniest ghost of an alarm. We know that the 'love of nature' is a sentimental fascination with surface-that the gulls do not float in the sky for delight but in watchful hunger for fish, that the golden bees do not dream in the lilies but call as routinely for honey as collection agents for rent, an ...more
Nancy Bevilaqua
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Damn--over too soon. Watts describes and explains the alternatives to our often utilitarian, puritanical, guilt-ridden (and anything but spiritual) ways of thinking about love-making, and considers that, contrary to popular opinion, sex, the natural world, and spirituality need not be mutually exclusive at all-he doesn't denounce the celibacy of the spiritual seeker, but he doesn't see it as the only way. Taoism and Zen have always appealed to me, but Watts has a way of breathing life into his i ...more
Oct 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Alan Watts is brilliant and at times mind spinning philosopher that often is beyond my intellectual grasp. In this work he questions our divorce, abuse, and distrust of the natural world.
He suggest that in time and technological expansion that we will be increasingly isolated and find ourselves at odds with ourselves and the environment. To state the obvious -- he got it.

Further on He delves into Eastern fertility practices and the Kundalani/serpent yoga experience.
A noteworthy quote:
"for the
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Buddhism isn't for everyone. I recently began working at a temple out west (in chicago) and so my interest in this subject has resurfaced. My family converted (as much as one can convert to a non-religion) to buddhism when I was about twelve. Church on sunday immediately ceased and we were all a lot happier. I didn't really start understanding the precepts of the middle way until, perhaps, high school. I had tried like many others to understand buddhism by trying to read D.T. Suzuki's Understand ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
While parts of this book were a little hard for me to wrap my brain around, not being a philosopher by trade or training, I still left the book riddled with sticky-tabs for later reference and inspiration.

I started to quote my favorite passages, but not wanting to retype large swaths of the book, I erased it all. It's hard to pull tidbits out of long, inter-connected thoughts without compromising the point of the quote. And, on that note, that is exactly the point the author was trying to make,
Erik Graff
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: persons interested in Zen and Taoism
Recommended to Erik by: Anne-Lise Graff
Shelves: philosophy
This, along with The Book, were the two books Mother had by Alan Watts which I read at the end of high school and which got me interested enough to read other volumes by him as I encountered copies at used bookstores. These two volumes and the influence of a friend, Michael Miley, got me into the study of religion through the back door of Eastern mysticism despite strong prejudices against the whole concept of religion.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very easy to read contemplative chapters on Zen Buddhism, nature and sexuality with a non judgmental but definitely a 60’s era heteronormative point of view to things. If you are into this kind of thing.
Sep 05, 2010 is currently reading it
"I am God, you are God, everything is God, and God is a boundless and featureless, sea of dimly conscious tapioca pudding."
Tom Ansell
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Something like these words in this book caress so deeply, so profoundly, that it is difficult to describe how much of a gift it is.. Indeed, describing a perspective on the book may be missing the point of the book itself. Before opening this, I had a familiarity of some ideas about interdependant relationships and coherent, simultaneous expression of life in all its forms. In saying that, in attempting to conceive of Watts' message I felt more and more self-aware as being stuck and isolated in ...more
Spencer Scott
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. I can't wait to read it again.

It's a tough read, but a book you almost underline in entirety.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Watts writing is entertaining and educating. I'd like to say I understood everything in this book. But I didn't. And that's ok, because it is a book I'd happily reread.
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it
"Then you sort out the recycling. That isn't part of the foreplay process but it is still very important"
-The Flight of the Conchords, "Business Time"

In this book, Mr. Watts attempts to define love within the spheres of nature, religion, and sexuality. As per usual, there is a heaping helping of Eastern thought and phrases brought in to alleviate the stifling rigidity of Western thought. Watts speaks of having an open consciousness which does not chop up reality into classifiable bits of info, b
Katja Vartiainen
I can't make a synopsis of this book, because it has so many wonderful revelations. I loved it! The back cover says this: 'That human beings stand separate from nature that must be controlled, that the mind is somehow superior to the body, and that sexuality entails a seduction -a danger or a problem- are assumptions upon which much of Western thought and culture is based.' Though the part of sexuality I think Watts says it that one shouldn't do it with thoughts but let it happen in this bodily ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of the better Alan Watts books I've read so far because it feels more like an objective topical study rather than a defense of a Buddhist view, although it does contain clear preferences. It also has a lot of discussion about the Chrisitan idea of nature and sexual relations, so it's kind of a critique that is always welcome. Watts recognizes the good things too when they are present, so it's not a debunking kind of book - more of a dig into the traditions of east and west. Sometimes ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This turned out to be a 155 page tome for my tiny mind (the edition I have isn’t listed on goodreads, but it was 155 pages of densely printed text).
I think it has taken me almost 6 weeks to get through it. Every paragraph - sometimes every sentence - I had to stop and reflect, and I STILL feel that I’ve only grasped this on a superficial level.
Definitely going to have to revisit this one.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A dense read and a delightful one. Useful for understanding some of the underlying psychology in contemporary Christianity. Also, has made me think differently about my conceptions of self, belief, and the world.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Very poetic and eloquent insight to the intricate and often sensitive relationship between and surrounding sexuality and spirituality. Watts has a great gift for explanation that opens up a new dimension of thought that's provoking and wonderful.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Radical and profound, this is Watts at his very best. Brilliant!
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
It did nothing for me. Felt like a rambling mess.
Ernie Truman
Second only to Watts' "The Wisdom of Insecurity" this title goes more deeply into our disconnect with nature, and in the process with ourselves. The chapter that held my attention more than any other was Science and Nature. In this part of the book Watts goes deeply into the method whereby, through our interpretations, we impose certain laws of nature and thus reduce its spontaneity to small patterns that we mistake for the reality of nature. By our mistaken beliefs that thoughts can express so- ...more
Alan's interesting perspective on Buddhist philosophy and sex. I think the most profound thing that I got from this book is that the typical "wait until marriage" "sex is for procreation only" or "absitinence" view of sex is just another type of sexuality. All humans exhibit some form of sexual habit, and express their own sexuality through their habits. Some choose to have multiple partners, some choose to have open marriages, some choose to only have sex with one other person their entire live ...more
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was just what I needed to read when I read it. I love when that happens. It reminded me of just what part of myself has been neglected thus far in my life.... instinct, feeling (as opposed to logical thinking) and helped me relax around 'knowing' and remind me I have an 'understanding' of a different sort when I can tune it in.

And written in a beautiful style, not at all academic or verbose, but beautiful and evocative and occasionally poetic in the same way as the subject he describe
J Ruth
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Alan Watts demands your mind and soul in this book. And I mean REALLY. Readers cannot be halfway there, almost awake, kinda into it. His brain is complex. His comprehension of the deeper layers of humanity and struggle with everything from religion to sexuality is delusion-shattering and beautiful. This is another book I have read but will always have sitting nearby with a page marked by notes. This is read and currently always reading. He's that gifted.
Steve Woods
The master! This work is pretty dense and it takes some work but it is worth it. Watts develops some ideas that I have seen in his work before but here in great detail. The writings of this man have changed my life. He never ceases to amaze me with hi intellect and his grasp of the human condition! Great stuff
Alexandria Roberts
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a polemic to Christianity it's rather weak. But as a way to expand intellectual and spiritual horizons, it offers invaluable insight and new perspectives. While the initial chapters and arguments were subjective and narrow, the latter sections incorporated many different beliefs and principles to build a well-balanced structure for developments in my personal spiritual life.
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I love Alan Watts; this book, however, feels a bit dated. So far, I'm not really getting much out of it that I don't either already agree with, and what I don't agree with, it's often because it seems to me a bit naïve and uninformed due to the era he was writing in. Time will tell as I work through it.
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Always good to read Watts. This book is a bit more philosophical and goes into comparing christianity with hindu and taoist traditions.
He also poses interesting questions on sexuality and how occidental civilization has come about to it's current belief systems.
Katalin Koda
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite authors, his writing is pure poetry; the abstract of the East captured by the English language, something that remains effortless in his writing, effortless as Zazen, something that is incredibly difficult.
Sep 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book really did it for me...had me going for quite awhile. It still flavors any physics, evolution, or economics that I read.

Follwed it up with Aikido and the Harmony of Nature and I'd say that was good choice.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Gender division in two oppostes is drastic 1 4 Jun 07, 2014 11:51AM  
can i read online 1 15 Apr 06, 2009 12:36AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Studies in Occultism
  • The Spectrum of Consciousness
  • The Chakras (Quest Book)
  • Commentary on Living: Second Series
  • Zen Effects: The Life of Alan Watts
  • Fourteen Lessons in Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism
  • Ah, This!
  • The Visionary Poetics of Allen Ginsberg
  • The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment
  • Interbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism
  • The Practical Encyclopedia of Natural Healing
  • James Baldwin: The Legacy
  • Ponder on This
  • Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D. T. Suzuki
  • The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine
  • The Stormy Search for the Self
  • The Life And Words Of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Psyche and Symbol: A Selection from the Writings of C.G. Jung
See similar books…
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
“The more a person knows of himself, the more he will hesitate to define his nature and to assert what he must necessarily feel, and the more he will be astounded at his capacity to feel in unsuspected and unpredictable ways.” 10 likes
“The answer to the problem of suffering is not away from the problem but in it. The inevitability of pain will not be met by deadening sensitivity but by increasing it, by exploring and feeling out the manner in which the natural organism itself wants to react and which its innate wisdom has provided.” 9 likes
More quotes…