I really think that to get a good grasp on this kind of issue, one has to "get over ones-self". Step outside for a moment and
consider whether you "feeling conscious" is as amazing or inexplicable as you think. Consciousness may very well just be
an epi-phenomenon of a self-reflection-capable world-modelling representer and reasoner such as our brains.
Minsky's society of mind idea isn't fully adequate as a consciousness explanation, but it makes inroads.
Some of the most exciting work in this area IMHO is being done by the neurologist Antonio Damasio. Here is a
review of his book on the topic of the feeling of consciousness:
What I think you are saying is that the experience of consciousness is just the result of certain physical processes in the brain. This is of course true; how could it possibly be otherwise? It should in theory be possible to map each distinct mental state to a corresponding brain state. Also, if you used this knowledge to reconstruct a particular brain from raw materials, the resulting entity should be conscious in the same way as the original was. The problem, however, is that even though you might know every detail of the brain, you cannot know what it actually experiences unless you can somehow connect it to your own brain. For example, if the owner of the brain you are studying sees a red flash, you might know down to to the level of individual atoms what changes this produces in the brain; you might even be able to "read" the brain, scanning for neuronal activity and deducing correctly that the subject sees a red flash. However, it is impossible to know what it feels like to see a red flash unless you have the actual experience yourself.
So I maintain that there is this extra bit of information -subjective experience or qualia - that you do not automatically have even if you know everything about the brain to an arbitrary level of precision. Moreover, it cannot be derived even in theory from the laws of physics - even though, of course, it is totally dependent on the laws of physics, like everything else in the Universe.
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