The University of Wisconsin Press

Philosophy / Education / Humanities

Reason, Reality, and Speculative Philosophy
Arthur E. Murphy
Edited, with an Introduction by Marcus G. Singer

The recovered work of a major American philosopher of the 20th century

Though one of the best known and most highly regarded philosophers of his day, Arthur E. Murphy left few books behind, least of all the “big book” he alluded to throughout his life but, for reasons unknown, never published. Reason, Reality, and Speculative Philosophy is derived from that book manuscript, so famous and yet so unknown, and offers at last a clear and definitive statement of Murphy’s view of the place and purpose of philosophy.

Most of all, this book introduces readers to a genuine lover of wisdom, a philosopher who used ordinary English to address traditional problems of philosophy. Murphy gives a critical account of speculative philosophy and, at the same time, offers a constructive attempt to outline a philosophy true to both reason and reality. In the process, he examines the speculative philosophies of F. H. Bradley, C. S. Peirce, Bertrand Russell, George Santayana, and A. N. Whitehead, among others, and dissects various forms of realism and idealism. His work thus provides a trenchant critique of the major philosophical tendencies of the period from 1890 to 1940.

This long-lost work, recovered and edited with expert care by Marcus G. Singer, is a contribution to philosophic reason that is penetrating, comprehensive, witty, and wise.

Arthur E. Murphy (1901–1962) taught at many major American universities, including Berkeley, Chicago, Cornell, Brown, Illinois, Washington, and Texas. He was the author of The Theory of Practical Reason, The Uses of Reason, and Reason and the Common Good and the coauthor of Philosophy in American Education. Marcus G. Singer, author of Generalization in Ethics, is professor of philosophy emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)


This book is dark blue, with a lighter blue rectangle on which the title is in white

August 1996
336 pp.    6 x 9
1 b/w photo
Cloth ISBN 978-0-299-15040-2

For rights and permissions inquiries, contact

Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated 9/24/2014

© 2009, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System