Audio download of Gary William’s lecture “Consciousness Behind Closed Doors: Julian Jaynes and the Refrigerator Light Problem.”
From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.
Summary: One question we might have about consciousness concerns its pervasiveness during waking life. We can divide views of pervasiveness into two broad camps: thin and thick. Julian Jaynes famously defends a thin view, arguing that consciousness is more fleeting than it is pervasive. On thick views, consciousness seems pervasive because it actually is pervasive throughout our waking life. On thin views, in contrast, humans are often fully awake, alert, and intelligently performing tasks without the presence of consciousness. Most people find the thin view unbelievable given the reasonable thought that if it seems like consciousness is pervasive, then it is pervasive. However, Jaynes argues this sense of pervasiveness is an illusion. In a memorable analogy, he likens our delusional belief in pervasiveness to a flashlight casting its beam about a dark room, and thus concluding light is everywhere. Analogously, we could ask whether the refrigerator light is always on even when the door is closed. A philosophical puzzle known as the “refrigerator light problem” arises when we try to decide between thin and thick views using introspection alone. In other words, if we cannot appeal to introspective evidence to decide between thin or thick views, how should the debate proceed? What evidence would settle the debate? Having set up the refrigerator light problem, I analyze several possible solutions as well as their prospects and implications for Jaynesian theory.
All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.