DER PHILOSOPHISCHE OKONOM. By Claus-Dieter Krohn. Marburg: Metropolis Verlag, 1996. Pp. 239.
Claus-Dieter Krohn's impeccably researched, intellectual biography of Adolph Lowe tells of the latter's extraordinary life, linked in all its facets to the course of the twentieth century. Three threads emerge from the account of Lowe's intellectual life: (1) the inseparability of theory and practice, which Lowe not only preached (as do so many) but also practiced (as do so few); (2) his flagrant disrespect for disciplinary boundaries in academia; and (3) his insatiable passion for discussion and dispute with a large circle of colleagues and friends.
Lowe, born in 1893, studied law but began to consider economic issues in 1916 when he co-authored a governmental document on the economic effects of demobilization. The war, he argued, would make its influence felt long after its cessation because political intervention would be required to rejuvenate and regulate the economy. The document met with political approval (from, inter alia, General Ludendorff, who commissioned a more detailed work from Lowe on the same subject) as well as disapproval from industrialists, who rejected interventionist ideas in the hope that the postwar period would bring a return of nineteenth century liberal capitalism. Lowe's work in the political administration of the Weimar Republic continued after the war, during which time he became an adherent of democratic socialism, a conviction which was to be life-long.
Lowe's academic career proper began in 1926 at Kiel. He became the head of the Abteilung fur statistische Weltwirtschaftskunde and internationale Konjunkturforschung, which soon became renowned, being described by the Rockefeller Foundation as the "Mecca" of German economic research. Lowe was interested in the effects of technical progress that produced instability, which the market alone was unable to rectify. He debated this view with Hayek, who was most impressed by Lowe's acumen, at the Verein fur Socialpolitik in 1928. While at Kiel, Lowe also published an article: Das gegenwartige Bildungsproblem der deutschen Universitat, in which he outlined his ideas on university reform and on the contribution universities could make to the Weimar Republic. Lowe welcomed the nascent democratization of university intake after the war but held that universities had to restructure in order to meet the expectations of students, who saw a university education as a chance to...