Alan Wilson Watts (January 6, 1915 – November 16, 1973) was a philosopher, writer, speaker, and expert in comparative religion. He wrote over twenty-five books and numerous articles on subjects such as personal identity, the true nature of reality, consciousness and the pursuit of happiness, relating his experience to scientific knowledge and to the teachings of Eastern and Western religions or philosophies (Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism). Beyond this, he was sensitive to certain new leanings in the West, and was in a position to be a proponent for certain shifts in attitudes regarding society, the natural world, lifestyles, and aesthetics.
His writing reflects his personal desire to move beyond the bounds of the culture and psychology he had inherited in Britain. Despite the intellectual opportunities he knew had been afforded by the schools he had attended in childhood, he felt the general cultural influence (particularly the religious ideas) had been restrictive and repressive. He wrote that he believed Judeo-Christian culture had developed through the centuries in a way that had not fully accepted human nature, and therefore often stifled people and set them at odds with nature, rather than effectively teaching them to discipline themselves.