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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Watts Not to Like?

APA Almost 40 years after his death, the legacy of Alan Watts remains controversial. In reviewing Peter Columbus and Donadrian Rice's new book Alan Watts—Here and Now: Contributions to Psychology, Philosophy, and Religion, I noted that:

On the one hand, Watts is lauded as a charismatic wordsmith, brilliant exponent of Eastern philosophy, and foundational figure in the San Francisco renaissance and human potential movement. On the other, he's critiqued for his immoderate lifestyle, accused of having misunderstood the mystical traditions, or even dismissed as the shallow "Norman Vincent Peale of Zen."
Does Watts's lifestyle affect your appreciation of his work? Does his popularization of Eastern philosophy render his insights moot? Or have we underestimated the importance of his early facilitation of dialogue between Eastern and Western religion?

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Jim Korn

In the early 70s Alan Watts was an invited speaker in one of my courses at Carnegie Mellon. He went to lunch with a group of faculty. He had two martinis and did not seem to take himself too seriously. We thought he was cool. So did the students -- that is they thought he was cool, and most did not take him seriously. He taught me what little I know about Zen, including the use of gin as an aid to meditation.

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