The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts


How does man find purpose in the day of science, a godless age? The book, published in the early ’50s, is written for a new age, a time after World War 2, a time with the bomb.


“I”: The sentient I. (🇩🇰 “jeg”: det bevidste jeg.)

“me”: A part of nature, the animal. (🇩🇰 “mig”: En del af naturen, dyret.)

Human beings appear to be happy just so long as they have a future to which they can look forward—whether it be a “good time” tomorrow or an everlasting life beyond the grave. For various reasons, more and more people find it hard to believe in the latter. On the other hand, the former has the disadvantage that when this “good time” arrives, it is difficult to enjoy it to the full without some promise of more to come. If happiness always depends on something expected in the future, we are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp that ever eludes our grasp, until the future, and ourselves, vanish into the abyss of death.

The Wisdom of Insecurity, p. 15

However much they may try to bury it in the depths of their minds, they are well aware that these joys are both uncertain and brief. This has two results. On the one hand, there is the anxiety that one may be missing something, so that the mind flits nervously and greedily from one place to another, without finding rest and satisfaction in any. On the other, the frustration of having always to pursue a future good in a tomorrow which never comes, and in a world where everything must disintegrate, gives men an attitude of “What’s the use anyhow?”

The Wisdom of Insecurity, p. 21