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Does It Matter?

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,147 ratings  ·  48 reviews
This is a series of essays representing philosopher Alan Watts's most recent thinking on the astonishing problems of man's relations to his material environment. The basic theme is that civilized man confuses symbol with reality, his ways of describing and measuring the world with the world itself, and thus puts himself into the absurd situation of preferring money to weal ...more
Paperback, 140 pages
Published February 12th 1971 by Vintage (first published 1958)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  1,147 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Jun 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: philo-sophia
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
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
"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
Emily Hilliard
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Gavriel Gerstler
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Does it matter?
Alan Watts's "Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality".
In this short collection of essays, Alan Watts explores modern day problems from the outlook of his own philosophy, inspired mainly by Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. Tackling problems of economics, technology, cooking and clothing, Watts offers a fresh perspective which is all too foreign to western society. Published in 1970 just shortly before his death, this book is as relevant now as it was when it was written.
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
You'll have no trouble recognizing these essays, written in the mid to late sixties, as being a product of that period. But while some of Watt's specific points and complaints sound dated, a lot of them are still relevant. ...more
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
really funny and relieving. watt's finally stops speaking abstractly and lays down wit and amazing insight on every topic. ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Jeffrey Bean
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and enlightening. Excellent.
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nice book with several short essays on things as varied as food, religion, cannabis and psychedelics, and clothing.
Fun to read Watts.
Jeffrey Spitz Cohan
This is a loosely connected collection of essays, packaged to appeal to Watts afficionados.

If you're unfamiliar with Watts, I wouldn't start with this book. (I would recommend "Wisdom of Insecurity.")

"Does It Matter" was published just a few years before his death. It's sort of the publishing equivalent of a record company taking a rock star's B sides and creating an album for hardcore fans.

Watts has an uncanny ability to inspire you and infuriate you in the same essay. In "Murder in the Kitchen
Jan 29, 2021 rated it liked it
From what I remember from reading it a year ago, I enjoyed the spirituality that Watts touches on, the ebb and flow that is all of life. It also had me considering how strange life is, like the fact that we place such emphasis on what we wear and how we appear to others. The mandala chapter was very creative and reminded me of the cognitive psychology classes I took. The vibrations chapter reminded me of Buddhist texts I have read, which describe that feeling sad or joyful isn't necessarily good ...more
Jack Castillo
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am into Alan Watts but I can only take so much of him. This is my second book I've read by along with numerous essays and I am aligned with him on many of his ideas, but sometimes he comes across as ranting which can be irritating to me. This collection of short essays were very thought provoking and interesting because they were written in the 60's and it is interesting how prescient Watts was. I really enjoyed the essay titled "Murder in the Kitchen," being from the S.F. Bay Area it is inter ...more
Benjamin Wallace
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
These Essay's by Alan Watts are filled with everything I've enjoyed from the man. Hope, inspiration, well thought out and easy to understand explanations on what he views the complexities of life to really boil down to. There aren't many people who have existed quite as Alan Watt's has existed. His writings, his lectures, his ideas and not so subtle smirk in the face of everything he has to say really exemplify the type of person he was and always will be remembered as: wholly, undefinably human ...more
Alan Watts being Alan Watts, talking about nothing and everything, leaving you feeling wiser and dumber, always giving you a good time while at it.

This is a collection of essays on several mundane topics such as food/cooking, clothes/dressing and so on, and how he reckons you should go about relating to these things in your life. Mostly he recommends you stop being all over the place and enjoy with peace and artfulness the simple and comfortable things of life. Such as these pants:

Mar 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
These essays are 50 years old, written like un-edited blog posts: Many oppinions, unfounded ideas, no context. It's fascinating that the book's topics still have some relevance. What is even more fascinating is how Watt's writes about what is now the boomer generation, describing his hopes that they will be the ones who overcome materialism, consumerism, shallowness... it's a good reminder to recede from simple explanaitions and hopes - like those based in the turn of genereations... ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of essays. As such it is not a good introduction to Alan Watts but should appeal to anyone that is already familiar with Watts.
Zack Brown
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Essays on kitchens and dress came off as dated, though I enjoyed the Seven Short Essays which more closely contained the best of his lectures
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars.

Flowery intellectualization, but dry.
Nikola Nesic
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Not his best book. But maybe most practical
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wryly humorous and deeply contemplative.

Old yet surprisingly relevant. Discourse is marvelously intriguing.

Definitely a 'giver' book.
Lani M
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
"...that the whole point of life is to be fully aware of it as it happens." ...more
Sarah Koz
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This guy is such a fucking genius.
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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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