The Columns

Retired Professor S. Todd Lowry Delivers Paper at International Conference in Japan

— by on November 24th, 2009

Dr. S. Todd Lowry, professor emeritus of economics at Washington and Lee University, delivered a paper at the international Workshop on Mathematical Economics at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, on Nov. 15.

Lowry’s paper, “Pythagorean Mathematical Idealism and the Framing of Economic and Political Theory,” will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Advances in Mathematical Economics (Springer, Tokyo) and will also be translated into Japanese to be included in an edited collection of academic essays.

Lowry, who had to decline an invitation from Keio University to attend an October conference on economics, was then invited to the Workshop on Mathematical Economics in November at which time he delivered his paper.

At the international workshop, Lowry spoke about Pythagoreans whose thought emphasized rationality as a natural phenomenon. Lowry said, “Pythagoreans and Plato believed you could investigate mathematics and not have to worry about the subtle inadequacies of rationality in observed processes.

“This approach was disturbed by the discovery of irrational numbers. Later Aristotle presented the idea that mathematics was introduced by human beings in order to analyze patterns in observed reality.”

After delivering his paper, he and his daughter, Lynn Leech, toured Japan for a few days seeing
a Kabuki play at the National Theatre in Toyko, touring Tokyo, visiting Nikko National Park and taking the bullet train to Kyoto, among other things. Lowry commented on the politeness and courteousness of the Japanese people and their bowing tradition and its meaning.

Lowry was a member of the W&L faculty from 1959 until his retirement in 1995. He received his B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Texas and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.