I grew up in Long Beach in Southern California during the 1950s and 1960s, the expansionist and halcyon days of Governor Pat Brown. My father insisted "I am not a refugee," and he and my mother integrated themselves in a world influenced by Joe McCarthy and post-War consumer culture. They belonged to a broad circle of Hungarian ex-pats but were comfortable keeping the large Los Angeles Hungarian network at arms’ length.

There were some thirteen traffic lights between Long Beach and San Diego until late in the 1960s. I spent a great deal of time surfing(2.5mb) and studied mathematics, psychology and philosophy as an undergraduate, first at the University of California at Irvine and then at the University of Leeds, England. At the latter I was lucky to fall into an excellent department of mathematical logic and prepared for my graduate studies at UC Berkeley.

At Berkeley I joined the Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science . The Logic Group is an interdisciplinary program between the mathematics and philosophy departments started by the great Polish emigre mathematician Alfred Tarski. The Berkeley philosophy department included Paul Feyerabend whose lectures I attended frequently. Though a world-famous philosopher of science Feyerabend was not a member of the Logic Group, really intended for the study of mathematical logic. Generally only very formal philosophical approaches to science were tolerated, and the Berkeley philosophy department was much the same. Thomas Kuhn, author of the hugely influential Structure of Scientific Revolutions was once Feyerabend’s colleague but left Berkeley in 1964 for Princeton.

Feyerabend and the zeitgeist convinced me that good philosophy of science and mathematics required a significant role for the histories of those subjects. Along with several other students, I found the analytic alternatives to be pretentious uses of technical mathematics which substituted for substantive knowledge. Like many other PhD students I managed to pass my qualifying exams (two in math, one in philosophy) and seminars (one in math, one in philosophy), leaving myself but with a thesis to complete.

I decided around 1980 to learn some applied mathematics as a vocational hedge. I spent two years studying statistical theory, probability models, and combinatorial optimization. I was lucky, taking two courses with Richard Karp in the Department of Computer Science on combinatorics and the then new P=NP problem, still one of the great unsolved mathematical problems today. I had the opportunity to complete a PhD in the Department of Operations Research but found the subject more theoretical than applied. I dropped out of graduate school entirely and taught community college mathematics in Berkeley. I kept up my philosophical interests and wrote reviews for the Berkeley literary magazine, The Threepenny Review.

In 1981 I wrote a review for the Threepenny of Lakatos' new Collected Papers, published by Cambridge University Press and edited by two of Lakatos' students at the London School of Economics. The review was titled "Reconstructing Reason." Being curious about Lakatos' Hungarian background and his intriguing texts I began studying the work of the most famous Hungarian philosopher, Georg Lukacs, years before I learned Lakatos had a connection with him. Psychologically my goal was still to complete my PhD and one day I decided I understood just what was going on in Lakatos. Far from having "given up" his Hegelian-Marxist past, he was something of genius bridging East and West. I proposed the idea of a Lakatos thesis to Hans Sluga in the Philosophy Department. Sluga had written an historical book on Frege and was less ideologically inclined toward analytic dogma than others in the Philosophy department. I thought that if my idea was even roughly correct it would show Lakatos to have been a remarkable combination of the English-analytic and continental-historical traditions and therefore worthy of a PhD.

I barely had an idea of what I was doing, though I did have clear goals. I wanted to document the "hidden Hegel" in Lakatos, which is exactly what Lukacs did for Marx in the 1920s. I also wanted to develop Lakatos' ideas further in the history of mathematics and science. I was naturally led to a combination of intellectual history, philosophy, and history of science and mathematics. My self-appointed task was to sort out Lakatos’ many historical claims, identify his implicit philosophical antecedents, and show how it all worked together. This was not standard fare for the Berkeley Philosophy Department nor the Logic Group. I was lucky again, convincing the intellectual historian Marin Jay to be an outside reader. Jay wrote the the classic history of the Frankfurt School, The Dialectical Imagination, and he was supportive of my project.

I spent a couple years writing my thesis and when I decided it was academically defensible and respectable, considering its interdisciplinary scholarship in the history of ideas, mathematics, and science, I announced I was done and pushed it through. The Logic Group still required an oral examination attended by Sluga, Jay, my third reader the mathematician Jack Silver, Bert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. The latter two were then becoming well-known interpreters of Michel Foucault. Philosophical history was alive at Berekely at least that afternoon.

Having finally obtained that precious PhD, my wife and I were living in Houston, Texas, where she was teaching and I took my first consulting job.

The year was 1984 and the company was Arthur Andersen.