Alan Watts - In the Academy

Essays and Lectures

By Alan Watts
Edited by Peter J. Columbus, Donadrian L. Rice
Introduction by Peter J. Columbus, and Donadrian L. Rice

Subjects: Comparative Religion, Zen Buddhism, Transpersonal Psychology, Humanistic Psychology, Religion
Series: SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
Paperback : 9781438465548, 390 pages, July 2018
Hardcover : 9781438465555, 390 pages, July 2017

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Editors’ Preface

Introduction: Alan Watts and the Academic Enterprise
Peter J. Columbus and Donadrian L. Rice
Part I: Language and Mysticism

1. On the Meaning and Relation of Absolute and Relative (1950)

2. The Negative Way (1951)

3. The Language of Metaphysical Experience: The Sense of Non-Sense (1953)

4. On Philosophical Synthesis (1953)

5. Philosophy beyond Words (1975)
Part II: Buddhism and Zen

6. The Problem of Faith and Works in Buddhism (1941).

7. Zen (1948)

8. The Way of Liberation in Zen Buddhism (1955)

9. Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen (1958)

10. Zen and Politics (1962)

11. Prefatory Essay to Suzuki’s Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism (1963)
Part III: Christianity

12. Theologia Mystica (1944)

13. The Case for God (1946)

14. The Meaning of Priesthood (1946)

15. The Christian Doctrine of Marriage (1946)
Part IV: Comparative Religion

16. Worship in Sacrament and Silence (1964/1971)

17. Western Mythology: Its Dissolution and Transformation (1970)

18. The Future of Religion (1970)

19. Unity in Contemplation (1974)
Part V: Psychedelics

20. The Individual as Man/World (1963)

21. A Psychedelic Experience: Fact or Fantasy? (1964) 

22. Psychedelics and Religious Experience (1968) 

23. Ordinary Mind is the Way (1971) 
Part VI: Psychology and Psychotherapy

24. Asian Psychology and Modern Psychiatry (1953)

25. Convention, Conflict, and Liberation: Further Observations on Asian Psychology and Modern Psychiatry (1956)

26. Eternity as the Unrepressed Body (1959)

27. Oriental and Occidental Approaches to the Nature of Man (1962)

28. The Woman in Man (1963) 

29. An Interview with Alan Watts (with Philip D. Ungerer) (1969)

30. Psychotherapy and Eastern Religion: Metaphysical Bases of Psychiatry (1974)          

Appendix A
List of Contributors

Explores language and mysticism, Buddhism and Zen, Christianity, comparative religion, psychedelics, and psychology and psychotherapy.


Gold Winner, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in the Philosophy category

To commemorate the 2015 centenary of the birth of Alan Watts (1915–1973), Peter J. Columbus and Donadrian L. Rice have assembled a much-needed collection of Watts's scholarly essays and lectures. Compiled from professional journals, monographs, scholarly books, conferences, and symposia proceedings, the volume sheds valuable light on the developmental arc of Watts's thinking about language and mysticism, Buddhism and Zen, Christianity, comparative religion, psychedelics, and psychology and psychotherapy. This definitive collection challenges Watts's reputation as a "popularizer" or "philosophical entertainer," revealing his concerns to be much more expansive and transdisciplinary than is suggested by the parochial "Zen Buddhist" label commonly affixed to his writings. The editors' authoritative introduction elucidates contemporary perspectives on Watts's life and work, and supports a bold rethinking of his contributions to psychology, philosophy, and religion.

Peter J. Columbus is Administrator of the Shantigar Foundation in Rowe, Massachusetts. Donadrian L. Rice is Professor of Psychology at the University of West Georgia. Together they are the coeditors of Alan Watts—Here and Now: Contributions to Psychology, Philosophy, and Religion, also published by SUNY Press.


"The editors of this book have clearly devoted a great deal of energy to selecting more than thirty relatively academic talks and essays out of Watts' enormous body of work. Many of the selections are fairly obscure, but all are worthy of consideration. " — Nova Religio

"…both academically and historically rich. " — PsycCRITIQUES

"This collection, testament to an astonishingly productive writing and speaking career, serves as a window into an extraordinarily significant era, when Asian traditions and non-theological forays into religion were largely unknown in the academy. Watts's outsider status is firmly established, but his contributions to academic life and thought deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated. " — Reading Religion

"This excellent volume is important in establishing Watts as perhaps the most important Western thinker and writer on Eastern religions and philosophy, as well as comparative religions, of the twentieth century. " — John W. Traphagan, author of Rethinking Autonomy: A Critique of Principlism in Biomedical Ethics