JHI Circle of Fellows Spotlight—Marybel Menzies

March 16, 2022 by Sonja Johnston

Marybel Menzies is a 2021-22 JHI Undergraduate Fellow (Zoltan D. Simo Undergraduate Award in the Humanities). She’s completing a specialist in UTSC Philosophy and a major in Psychology. Her project at the JHI is titled “Subjectivity and the Aesthetic Experience”.

JHI: What are your main research interests?

MM: My primary research interests include philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and value theory. In particular, I am interested in the intersection of these three areas. Specifically, I am interested in the value of consciousness as it pertains to ethical decision making in life-or-death scenarios. I am also interested in what consciousness is and when it matters. In addition to my philosophical research interests, I also have a background in psychology. My psychological research interests include social cognition and cognitive neuroscience, especially insofar as they are related to our first-person conscious experiences and engagement within a diverse, social community in creating those unique experiences.

JHI: What research project(s) are you working on now at the JHI and why did you choose it?

MM: My research project this year is on 'Subjectivity and the Aesthetic Experience' which is looking at the relationship between the construction of the subjective self and the distinctive kind of pleasure we experience as a function of aesthetic experiences. The reason I chose to research this subject is it unified my two major areas of interest (mind and value) and allowed me to investigate if our theories of the self and our theories of the aesthetic can be reconciled and more strongly, inform each other, since both areas of philosophy tend to be rather opaque. My hope is to use empirical psychology to shed light on the intersection, as well as consider implications related to ancient ethics. In addition, prior to the JHI, I did not have the have the chance to take courses in aesthetics, so when I saw the topic of 'pleasure', I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about the area!

JHI: What experiences are you hoping for while you’re at the JHI?

MM: My hope in joining the JHI was to engage with a dedicated group of scholars under the umbrella of a single topic, sharing insights and expertise, while simultaneously being exposed to a wide array of unfamiliar areas in the humanities. The community provided the ideal conditions for this through the weekly seminar discussion format.
JHI: Share something you read/watched/listened to recently that you enjoyed/were inspired by.

Recently, I read an interesting article in the philosophy of mind by Lee (2019) titled, 'The Microstructure of Experience' which suggests that the macrophenomenal structure of our experience may have underlying, non-introspectable microphenomenal structure.

JHI: What is a fun fact about you?

MM: A fun fact about me is I grew up as a swimmer. I have been involved in competitive swimming since the age of 2!