More About the Author
I was born in Belgium in 1942, an inauspicious location in space-time to begin a life. I made it through the war, only to be moved in 1950 to Brooklyn, where gentrification was decades away. Going by the name of Andr' perceptibly diminished my chances for survival on the gladiatoral field of the schoolyard---I might as well have been called Romeo. So I did everything I could to change my name to Andy. Now 'Andy Kukla' is a fine name for a standup comedian or a rodeo clown, but it isn't suitable for the august, professorial persona that I was destined to adopt. Yet the new name became so entrenched'on driver's licenses, social security cards, etc.'that I was well into my thirties before the return to Andr' could be engineered.
I was moved Los Angeles when I was 13, and lived there until the age of 28. For better and for worse, LA feels like my home town. The LA period of my life was broken up in 1965-66 by a seminal year in Berkeley during which I became an anarchist, a Buddhist, a druggie, an anti-Vietnam-war protester, and an advocate for the rights of schizophrenics to their own version of reality. I also stopped getting haircuts. In other words, I was a stereotypical member of my generation.
Both before and after the year in Berkeley, I attended UCLA. I was unable to settle on a major, and ended up getting a BA in mathematics, an MA in philosophy, and a PhD in psychology. If there were a fourth degree to obtain, I'm sure I would have gotten it in yet another field. I've been on the facultty of the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto simce 1970. I'm also cross-appointed to the Philosophy Department. I don't attach much importance to the distinction between philosophy and psychology: most of the questions that grab my attention belong to the fuzzy boundary between them. Looking back over several decades of work, it seems that the issues that I've worked on the most have to do with the scope and limits of rationality.
Freud said that the only things that really matter in life are 'Liebe und Arbeit'love and work. I've said a few words about my Arbeit; what about my Liebe? My Liebe is Kaila, who is, in ascending order of importance, a writer,a yoga teacher, a healer, and a devotee of the goddess Tara. It's a mystery to me why this strong, beautiful, and talented woman has consented to be my partner on life's journey. But if she hadn't done so, I would probably be dead.
I have two precocious and adorable daughters. Rebecca, the older one, is also a philosopher. She's married to Richard Manning, who is yet another philosopher. They have a son'Eli Kukla-Manning, my grandson, constructed entirely out of philosophers. The grandson, Eli K-M, is not to be confused with Eli Kukla tout court, who is my younger daughter. This Eli has just been ordained as a rabbi. Going by the Library of Congress classification system, the whole family gets shelved together under category B'Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion'.
Freud notwithstanding, there is a third dimension of life that's almost as important as love and work. I'm talking about location. Three places loom large in my affections. One is Toronto, a bastion of culture, intelligence, and liberality, and home to a multitude of delicious, cheap ethnic restaurants (if only the winters weren't so long!) Another special spot is the Big Island of Hawaii, where it was our fortunate fate to manifest a hand-built house in the Tolkienesque village of Volcano'we've spent many magical summers and sabbaticals there, immersed in a lush rain forest and surrrounded by old friends. Finally there's India, Kaila's spiritual home and everybody's ultimate travel adventure. A major unsolved problem of our life is how to spend 6 months a year in each of our three special places.