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.”


Part 1 00:00 Now, the title of the seminar is a very strange word, translatable into English as “thusness” or “suchness;” in Sanskrit: tathātā. And this is based on the Sanskrit word tat,...

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Truth and Relativity

Through the example of a city, Alan encourages his listeners to reevaluate the definition of their personal identities. Is a person a fully autonomous agent, or might they be a cell in a vast organism? Perhaps it’s necessary to understand both perspectives and recognize that each scale of magnitude depends on all others to manifest as it does. Originally broadcast on KPFA as episode 14 of the Philosophy East and West series.

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Turning the Head, or Turning On

Talking to an audience at San José State University, Alan Watts recounts the first time he tried consciousness-altering substances after meeting Aldous Huxley. He argues that Western society largely isn’t ready for the mystical experience which can be triggered in these mental states, but nonetheless advocates for them, as they may arouse positive transformation in the human collectivity.

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USA 2000

Beginning with his prophecy that the United States of America will no longer exist in the year 2000, Alan introduces us to a possible utopia which he discerned in his vision of the future. Topics include automation, guaranteed universal incomes, the confusion of money with wealth, changing work ethics, and the grim necessity of our learning how to sensuously enjoy luxury if we want to avoid total destruction.

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Zen Clues

A small group of students traveled with Alan Watts through Japan, and along the way they stopped to visit the temples and gardens of Kyoto, listening to Alan bring ancient kōans to life.

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