[This review of Murphey’s first book, Emergent Man, was written by Milton Friedman, later to be named a Nobel Laureate in economics, and appeared in the September 1964 issue of The New Guard, the national magazine of Young Americans for Freedom.]
by Milton Friedman
The increasing number and range of books and articles dealing with the philosophical foundations of a free society are an impressive sign of the vigor of the shift in the intellectual tides away from the ritualistic statism that has tried to arrogate to itself the ancient and honorable label of liberalism. Dwight Murphey’s Emergent Man is one of the most interesting that has come to my attention. It is profound and wide-ranging. A true liberal, Mr. Murphey recognizes, as many of this persuasion do not, that economic liberalism—free enterprise and free trade—while an essential cornerstone of a free society, is largely a means, or an application in a special area of more general principles, and that many of the basic issues—indeed the most important—are not economic at all, but ethical and moral. His book is devoted mostly to these other issues.
Murphey is thoughtful and philosophical. Yet what gives his book its special flavor is that it is also highly emotional, personal, and introspective. He is clearly writing about the things that are vital to him, that are his life-blood. Here is no dry-as-dust brief of a lawyer—which is what Murphey is in “real life.” Here is a passionate human document seeking to appeal to other men’s hearts as well as to their minds. At times, this feature makes for long-windedness, and sometimes the belaboring of the obvious, but it also gives it a rather unique appeal. Written by a young man trying to get his basic values and ideas straight, I suspect it will appeal especially to other young men in a like position, particularly to those of an independent cast of mind who must think things through for themselves, as Murphey so clearly has.