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July 22 , 2007

Does It Matter?

Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality


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, and housing. Watts argues that we confuse symbol with reality, our ways of describing and measuring the world with the world itself, and thus put ourselves into the absurd situation of preferring money to wealth and eating the menu instead of the dinner. With our attention locked on numbers and concepts, we are increasingly unconscious of nature and of our total dependence on air, water, plants, animals, insects, and bacteria. We have hallucinated the notion that the so-called external world is a cluster of objects separate from ourselves, that we encounter it, that we come into it instead of out of it. Originally published in 1972, Does It Matter? foretells the environmental problems that arise from this mistaken mind-set. Not all of Watts's predictions have come to pass, but his unique insights will change the way you look at the world.
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