Philosophy and Society is part of the Essential Lectures Collection. This album was one of the original six albums compiled by Alan and his son, Mark, in 1973. It includes some of Alan’s most inspiring public lectures, as well as his powerful Veil of Thoughts seminar recorded aboard the SS Vallejo (Alan’s floating studio) two years prior.  In the Veil seminar, he explores the limitations of thought, explaining that thought makes a good tool but a poor master, before taking a turn to touch upon love and the institution of marriage from both historic and pragmatic perspectives; speaking from “a certain amount of bitter experience.”

Journey to India

00:00 Now then, we have to get on to Buddhism. And in order to introduce Buddhism, it’s necessary to remember the whole background of the world view of India. In other words, what...

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Love of Waters

00:00 Do you mind if I talk for a while about something I love; about water and the ocean? Ever since I can remember anything at all, the light, the smell, the sound and motion of the...

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Man is a Hoax

00:00 Now, I’m particularly interested in what Dr. Weaver said about the attitude of the family to children. Because we have an absolutely extraordinary attitude—in our culture and in...

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Not What Should Be, But What Is

Alan reminds his audience that our mental image of the world is just an internal fairy tale loosely related to the truth of reality. Paying attention to our sensory experiences can therefore help us lift this thought-tainted veil, an action which reveals the magic of being far better than any words ever could.

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On Being God (With Q&A)

After discussing the nature of consciousness, the human mind, and the philosophical viewpoint that every person is God, Alan Watts assumes the role of God himself for the latter half of this lecture, answering each question his audience serves with wit and insight.

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On Commerce

00:00 So since we’re under the auspices of the School of Business, I’m going to talk about commerce. And basically, the word “commerce” is very friendly, because it means “communion...

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On G. K. Chesterton

00:00 I want you to have in mind an enormously fat man wearing a black cloak and a rather large, wide-brimmed hat, with pince-nez secured to his nose, and prevented from destruction...

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On Instinct

00:00 Somebody raised the question at the end of this morning’s session about instinct, and the instinct for survival, the instinct for procreation, so on. This is fascinating, because...

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Power of Space

Part 1 00:00 I suppose you may think it rather nervy of me to devote this whole seminar to talking about nothing. But it’s about space. And in most people’s minds space is just nothing...

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Pursuit of Pleasure

Where does pleasure come from? What are we trying to achieve in our frantic day-to-day activities? Why are we in such a hurry? And why do all of our efforts to pin the universe down and bring it under our control dial up the misery?

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Self and Other

Alan coaxes the listener’s mind to simultaneously zoom in and zoom out in an effort to demonstrate that identity is merely an intellectual hallucination. Instead, personal identity is fluid, ranging from one’s constituent atoms and molecules all the way out to the farthest bounds of cosmic existence. Overcoming this mental myopia leads to greater harmony, contentment, and a desire to playfully dance with this universal energy system.

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Sense of Nonsense

In this public radio broadcast, Alan explores the origin of the desire for meaningfulness. In the search for satisfaction, what is it that is really sought for or yearned after? The talk turns from academic discussion into poetry. What is the meaning of significance?

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Spectrum of Love

00:00 I’m going to talk to you this evening on the subject of the spectrum of love. We know that from time to time there arise among human beings people who seem to exude love as...

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