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October 04, 2021

130 Stories: Michael M. Kazanjian

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Michael M. Kazanjian, C’66, Philosophy

“North Park had just become a four-year college when I applied. I had never heard of philosophy, but I took a class with Dr. Paul Sebestyen. About three days before my final exam, I bumped into Dr. Sebestyen in Wallgren Library, and we started talking. Our conversation lasted almost three hours. We were discussing his class, and I felt pretty confident answering the questions he was throwing at me. When we both had to go, I said, ‘I’ll see you in three days for my final.’ ‘Mr. Kazanjian,’ he said, ‘you have been discussing our course with me for three hours. You just did the final.’ Later on, when I was in grad school, I realized what he had done was what phenomenologists would call ‘reintroducing testing into study,’ meaning that you don’t study for a test; your study and participation are the test.

“When I first took Dr. Sebestyen’s class, I thought he knew everything about everything. In the context of philosophy, he taught us about time, space, curves—he was teaching us the basics of calculus. I had a very hard time with mathematics in high school, but Dr. Sebestyen actually made it kind of fun. We learned that mathematics and philosophy have a lot in common. In many ways Dr. Sebestyen inspired the thinking of my book, Unified Philosophy: Interdisciplinary Metaphysics, Ethics, and Liberal Arts. He was far ahead of his time, and academia can still learn from him.

We’re celebrating 130 years of North Park community. You’re invited to share your own story at www.northpark.edu/share130


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