|Abstract||In order to distinguish the conscious state itself from its aspects and contents we need an answer to the question "if there is something it is like to be conscious, what is it?" A succinct answer to this question is provided in the form of a common denominator of all conscious states. This characterization of the conscious state has implications for the systematic study of consciousness through its bearing on a number of concrete issues connected with the nature of consciousness and its relation to the biology of brains and their evolution. These are discussed with a view to delineating the characteristics of consciousness, suggesting the primary functional role of consciousness in the total economy of brain functions, and exploring the tractability of the problem of consciousness from the standpoint of ordinary science. 1997|
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