Consciousness is the strangest thing in the universe.
If you don't have it, then you'll just never know. I feel sorry for you.
If you do have it, you can't possibly question how you know. It's....there. It's simply there. Inexplicably, it's there.
I wish I could share, with those out there who lack consciousness, how strange it is to be anything at all.
Dennetian and Chalmerian Consciousness
We need a different vocabulary so that consciousness can once again be talked about usefully. Consciousness is the ineffable inner experience, and that alone. It is not wakefulness, or alertness, or self-awareness. It is Something Else. It is above and beyond and along with.
I suggest we refer to all but consciousness as our "cognitive faculties". The brain has many cognitive faculties, and, above and beyond each one, there is sometimes consciousness. None of these are consciousness:
- Proprioception, the "body-sense".
The Polite Axiom
We should dare to do away with this polite agreement that all others have consciousness and see what follows from there.
If some have it, and some lack it, but we talk as if all have it, then our discussion is forever doomed. The polite axiom dooms our conclusions.
When we make this assumption we end up finding that we "have to" admit that all range of systems could have consciousness; they can equally be argued to. Well, I admit nothing.
My own consciousness is all I will ever know. I don't know how it got here, when it started, or if it will end. I don't know where it's located, or if that's even a coherent question.
Physicalists challenge me to prove my consciousness. Well, I challenge them to prove theirs. My ineffable experience, that rides along on top of all the biological machinery, is definitely real, and my only reality. I challenge phyiscalists to find it from the outside; not its neural correlates, but the thing itself.
Consciousness is the axiom, not the conclusion.
We don't know how or when consciousness gets there.
If one has consciousness they ought to understand how utterly incoherent it is to ask how you know