May I just make some comments on one particular claim in Russell's Theory of Nothing:
"Self-awareness is a necessary feature of consciousness"
This would be extremely important if true; but there are problems....

1. Each night we go psychotic in our dreams. Rare lucid dreams aside, the reason we don't realise we are only dreaming is precisely because of our absence of self-awareness or critical self-insight. The relevant module of the brain has effectively shut down. Yet it would be misleading to call dreams "non-conscious"? Some dreams e.g. nightmares, can be intense and frightening while they last.

2. More seriously, the idea that self-awareness is a necessary feature of consciousness has profound implications for the moral status of babies, the severely mentally handicapped - and most non-human animals. Clearly, they don't have a sophisticated sense of self. Arguably they lack all self-awareness. But surely, if they have nociceptors and a central nervous system, then they do feel pain - sometimes intensely?

Tellingly, perhaps, our most intense experiences - e.g. extreme agony, orgasm, blind panic, etc -  are marked by an absence of self-consciousness. Conversely, some of our most sophisticated forms of self-awareness have a very subtle phenomenology indeed [e.g examples so called "higher-order intentionality" -  I think that she hopes that he believes that I want...etc etc]
Generalizing to other creatures with central nervous systems, one may be sceptical that whales, say, are very intelligent. They may or may not possess rudimentary self-awareness. But it's at least possible that they experience pain more intensely than we do - their "pain centers" are larger for a start.
Self-awareness may be intimately linked to intelligence; but it's not clear (to me at least) that consciousness per se is linked to intelligence at all.

3. Also, I think it may be premature (re Russell's comment in ToN on Susan Greenfield) to say that the notion of levels of consciousness is devoid of meaning.
Yes, there is an absolute "binary" distinction between consciousness and non-consciousness.
But this absolute distinction doesn't entail that the idea of degrees of consciousness itself is meaningless. Thus pain can be mild, moderate or intense. One can be dimly self-aware or acutely self-aware. And  there are even cases of awareness even while under surgical general anesthesia - though fortunately they are quite rare.
[etc]

Apologies if I've misunderstood the argument here.
Dave

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